Chart of Assigned-Female-At-Birth Queer Hegemony. Large circle: The marvelous and transgressive queer community: all sorts of wonderful lesbians, gentle trans men, AFAB bois, AFAB genderqueers, nice gay men, female 2 femme radicals, hot bi hipsters, etc. Small outlier circle: Freaks: Those freaky trans women

Enough with “I date women and trans men”

I’m traveling on the east coast right now, which has thrown me back into the kind of queer, mostly female assigned community that exists in the “I date women and trans men” frame (I’m not saying this doesn’t happen on the west coast – but I’ve found alternatives way more easily). This is a big part of what my Girl Talk piece was about, but I want to address this particular issue really directly.

“I date women and trans men” is the definition of cissexism. It’s basing your frame for sexuality on the gender coercively assigned to a person by their doctor at birth, not on that person’s actual identity. In this case, we’re talking about folks who were assigned female. Of course, “women” means cis women – trans women totally drop off the map.

Chart of Assigned-Female-At-Birth Queer Hegemony. Large circle: The marvelous and transgressive queer community: all sorts of wonderful lesbians, gentle trans men, AFAB bois, AFAB genderqueers, nice gay men, female 2 femme radicals, hot bi hipsters, etc. Small outlier circle: Freaks: Those freaky trans women

Chart via TransFusion

My critique of this frame isn’t about everyone on the trans masculine spectrum, where there’s a ton of complex gender and sexuality diversity (though there is an important conversation to have about the privileging of masculinity here as well). I’m talking about how this approach to sexuality addresses people who were assigned female at birth but are men.

It’s incredibly undermining to frame sexuality in a way that lumps these men in with all female assigned folks instead of with cis men. It’s a failure, in the realm of sexuality, to recognize that trans men’s male identities are just as legitimate as cis men’s. If you’re going to base sexuality on gender, better base it on people’s actual genders.

I get why a lot of female assigned folks exist in this frame for reasons that aren’t overtly about undermining trans identities. There’s a ton of gender based trauma out there, and I understand that folks associate this with cis men, and not with trans men. But that’s not a reality-based approach to gender. A lot of that trauma gets easily linked to genitals, but this isn’t about bodies, it’s about patriarchy. I think this sexuality frame is a big part of why so many trans men get away with (and are sometimes even encouraged to practice) unchecked misogyny and male privilege (remember, power is complicated. You can experience both male privilege and cissexist oppression). Real talk: being trans doesn’t prevent you from perpetrating hurt and violence in the realm of sexuality.

My trans brothers deserve better than sex in a frame that undermines their identities. This doesn’t mean queer cis women and gender non-conforming female assigned folks can’t fuck trans men, but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining – to recognize that they sleep with men, and to question why they’re OK with sleeping with trans men and not cis men. I just don’t think it’s OK to process your sexual trauma in a delegitimizing way through the bodies of folks who’ve often faced tons of trauma at the intersection of gender and sexuality.

The problem isn’t one sided: trans guys owe it to themselves to not accept a misgendering sexuality frame just because it makes it easier to get laid, but that shit’s complicated in a cissexist world. It’s unfair to place all the responsibility for fixing this problem at the feet of the people who’s identities are being undermined. I want to encourage trans guys to stand up for what they deserve, but a lot of the responsibility for fixing this shit belongs to the people doing the undermining.

I do put a little more responsibility on trans men for letting this frame push their trans sisters out. This approach to sexuality totally erases trans women by excluding us from the group of sexually existing queer women. Yes, it’s also incredibly undermining of trans women’s identities by moving us out of the category “women” when it comes to sexuality. Ultimately, this frame goes back to the gender coercively assigned at birth for trans women as well. It’s a way for transmisogyny to advance unchecked, because trans women totally drop out of the conversation. It’s part of the broader problem of privileging masculinity over femininity, and specifically  of privileging masculinity in female assigned folks and hating on and marginalizing femininity in male assigned folks. The problem goes beyond gender theory about masculinity and femininity – this is about really specific, really real transmisogyny. Even when some femininity is accepted, it’s in female assigned folks. Trans women (even the butch ones) get left out in the cold. (I think it’s time for everybody to re-read Julia Serano’s groundbreaking book Whipping Girl with their sex brains on.)

There’s a lot of resistance to thinking about the politics of sexuality in this way, which I totally get. Our sexualities are our own, they’re personal, and in such a puritanical world any critique of sexuality can seem messed up. But our desires are absolutely influenced by our cultural context. When you really look at the way patterns of desire map onto what bodies are privileged and what bodies are marginalized, it becomes obvious that our desires are political. I am absolutely not about critiquing the way one person falls for another. The problem is with a community trend. When we leave sexuality trends unexamined, sex becomes a space where privilege and oppression run amuck.

It’s well past time to say enough. If queer community wants to be about a gender and sexuality revolution it’s got to take these questions seriously. Its got to address the ways cissexism overdetermines community approaches to sexuality. This is an ongoing process involving lots of thought, critique, and, well, processing. We’ve got to be able to move from the broad and systemic to seeing how cissexism plays out in our personal lives, including in relation to who and how we fuck.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/feministwizard/ Maxwell

    If you’re attracted to women and transmen it means you’re attracted to the female sex, rather than the female gender. It isn’t cissexist to be attracted to a specific sex, just as it isn’t racist to be attracted to a specific race. People don’t choose their sexuality.

  • http://feministing.com/members/albee1/ Alexandra Beecher

    Very interesting piece that made me stop and think. Thanks for writing it!

    • http://feministing.com/members/ljcitino/ Laura

      That’s exactly what I love about this site. It complete embraces how “feminism” as a movement/cultural concept is constantly evolving, adding aspects, subtracting/multiplying/dividing aspects, parsing things out, figuring things out, and taking on all obstacles as they come to us.

      In short: I love how much I learn when I come to this site.

      Great post!

  • http://feministing.com/members/beamaria/ Maria

    seriously?

    maybe I haven’t been clear enough. perhaps my words somehow seemed ambiguous or misleading.

    I’ll spell it right out …. I date only people who have the cunts they were born with.

    Call it a preference, a fetish, call it what you will. Whatever, that’s my “thing”.

  • unequivocal

    There’s a ton of gender based trauma out there, and I understand that folks associate this with cis men, and not with trans men. But that’s not a reality-based approach to gender.

    Wait. Who is it that gets to make this decision? Later in this piece you pay lip service to the idea of absolutely not being “about critiquing the way one person falls for another,” but it really seems like you are trying to negate the individual choice by sublimating it in the context of “community trends.”

    Is it acceptable (for example) for me to say that I am only interested in women and trans men because I only want a romantic relationship with someone with whom I have a shared or partially shared experience of oppression? What if an important element of my sexual attraction is transgression of socially accepted boundaries? Queer women and trans men fit both of those contexts, but cis men (generally) do not.

    You seem to be making some very generalized assumptions about the nature of this sort of attraction (“people can only be attracted to trans men but not cis men because they view trans men as not being real *men*”) that may not be accurate in a majority of (let alone all) cases.

    • http://feministing.com/members/nikkiv/ Nikki VonHollen

      unequivocal: Do you include transwomen in “women and trans men”? If so, it sounds like the author is talking about people who exclude transwomen in that group, not people who include them. Excluding transwomen from the group ignores their “shared experience of oppression” and makes many transmen feel like they are only attractive because they were born with female bodies. I think that is different than saying, “I don’t date cis-men,” which is very reasonable IMHO.

      JOS: Nice article. It’s easy for transpeople to get lumped in with the queer communities around their birth sex, and that really drives me nuts. As a transwoman, if I met a guy who said he only dates cismen and transwomen, I’d be a bit upset.

      • http://feministing.com/members/mappings/ Tim Chevalier

        ” It’s easy for transpeople to get lumped in with the queer communities around their birth sex,” — I wish. My birth sex is male, although I was coercively assigned female at birth. Saying that my vagina is more important than my brain is both sexist and cissexist. (And actually, it’s not easy aside from that, either… gay male communities don’t accept trans women. *All* cis-dominated queer communities ostracize trans women.)

    • http://feministing.com/members/mappings/ Tim Chevalier

      I think you’re making some very generalized assumptions too, like assuming that trans women don’t experience oppression? And assuming that a trans man who has been recognized by everyone in the world as a boy or man since the age of 6 or 7 (as is true for many trans men) has experienced the same oppression that cis women experience? What does that mean, anyway, since cis white middle-class able-bodied women experience gendered oppression in a very different way than women who aren’t affluent, who are disabled, who are women of color, or several of the above? And finally, why would you assume that a trans woman who has been perceived by everyone in the world as a girl or woman since the age of 6 or 7 (again, as is true for more and more trans people as it gets easier for kids to have their genders affirmed) doesn’t know what it’s like to be oppressed as a woman?

      My experience is that trans women experience *more* gendered violence and more gendered oppression, not less… I don’t think I know any trans women who *aren’t* survivors of sexual assault. But hey, keep promoting the myth that trans women are really just cis men who want to deceive queer women or hetero men?

      • http://feministing.com/members/dancingyeti/ JT

        Agreed!

        I was going to make a similar comment regarding making assumptions about the experiences of trans men. For example, the assumption seems to be made that “trans men” is a monolithic category and that all trans men are, by virtue of being trans, necessarily “gender transgressive.” There are a lot of trans men out there, and a lot of them have experiences that they don’t consider radical or transgressive. In fact, there are a lot of conservative, heteronormative trans men out there, who I doubt would be of interest to the queer-identified cis women who “date women and trans guys.”

    • http://feministing.com/members/dangerdarling/ Daniel Nelson

      All she’s saying is that it’s lame to sleep with bio women and trans men and call yourself a lesbian. Color me wrong, but I don’t think her concern is who you get down with. Somewhere in there she wrote something to the likes of whatever turns your crank, turns it. Be out and proud about who you love. You dig trans men, great, trans ladies don’t rock your boat, fine, but calling yourself a lesbian denies the people you love to a proper place in you heart and your community.

  • http://feministing.com/members/bidyke/ bidyke

    Interesting article. It articulated a lot of things that were running around in my head for a long while (albeit in a tone that was a tad more critical than I felt comfortable with).

    In addition to what’s been said in the article, I think in many ways this also has a lot to do with biphobia and monosexism. What separates between “I date women and men” or “I date people of all genders” and “I date women and trans men” is the insinuation that one might be bisexual and therefore comply with people’s biphobic perceptions (for example in this context, “sleeping with the enemy”). Queer women might be fearful of naming and viewing themselves as bisexuals, and of being seen as bisexual by the community. I think this is one of those instances that reveal how much bisexual identities are invalidated in queer cultures.

  • http://feministing.com/members/bexvankoot/ Bex

    An interesting piece for sure, definitely got me thinking…. but I had to stop and wonder at the “this isn’t about bodies” bit. Sex is, and will be for the foreseeable future, about bodies. We have them and they are a big part of what we use to make sex happen. We act as if we have only two types of gender – “men” and “women” – but we have innumerable variations of this that play out in the real world. To tell people that because they might be attracted to one variation, they must be at least potentially attracted to everyone who falls under one of two incredible broad categories, seems unrealistic. I often call myself “pansexual” because I truly believe that who you are is more than the sum of your body parts, and that attraction should be based on personality as much as chemistry. That said, I have never had the experience of feeling physical or sexual attraction towards a transwoman. Does this make my identification as pan/bisexual somehow “incorrect”? Does it speak to some kind of secret bias buried in me? Have I just not met the right person? I don’t know that… but I think it can be incredibly difficult to strike the balance between encouraging people to be self-aware while exploring their own desires and preferences from a psychological standpoint, and telling people that there is something “wrong” with those desires.

    • http://feministing.com/members/ginasf/ Gina Morvay

      Bex, I really think you’ve answered your own question. At the very least, before anyone IDs themselves as panssexual, I would hope they would do a deep self-examination as to whether their claim that “I don’t date genitals or genders” is really accurate. And that, surprise, it’s no accident we are attracted to the people we are (and I’m not saying anyone need apologize for that). The issue isn’t who floats your boat, the issue is claiming you’re pan when you likely have no intention or likelihood of dating certain bodies. It’s about honesty, not attraction.

    • http://feministing.com/members/mappings/ Tim Chevalier

      You’re not pansexual if you exclude certain groups based on stigma management.

      • http://feministing.com/members/bexvankoot/ Bex

        Could you expand on the concept of “stigma management” for me? All I know right now is that I have never been physically attracted to someone who I *knew* to be a trans woman. I readily admit that not everyone in the world is gender-identifiable in the few seconds during which I might casually think “I like how that person looks” before their ship passes mine in the night.

        My social circles are limited. I live in a rural area and my interactions with cis people are limited at best. I have a small circle of friends. The number of trans people who I know well enough to consider them friends is limited to an incredibly small group, with a few more people who consider themselves genderqueer or genderfluid.

        If I had only ever met and become friends with two or three cis men and women in my life, and instead had dozens of trans friends, I imagine the situation would be different…. not because of stigma, but because of access. I can’t possibly be attracted to every person I meet. I’m certainly not attracted to every cis person I meet.

        My point, I suppose, is that I am (usually) confident that I could be very attracted to a transwoman, as likely as I am to be attracted to anyone else. But I often feel that my use of the word “pansexual” is seen as less-than-authentic because I don’t actively seek out trans people to date. That seems strange to me…. as if I would be fetishizing the trans identity, rather than just looking to make great new friends and lovers.

  • http://feministing.com/members/frequentlyfemme/ Jo

    This piece is so necessary. Thanks for writing it. I can’t really pull the threads I’m thinking about together in a coherent way, yet, but I’m really really glad you wrote this.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ppplease/ ppplease

    maybe people are speaking from experience, as in, ‘i’ve dated women and trans men’, and are not necessarily saying, i will ONLY date women and trans men.

    transmen are not the same as men because they grow up knowing what being different, in a very specific way, is about. it IS different than being with a man. maybe people who sleep with trans men can appreciate where they’ve been, and that’s the difference between being with one and not the other. maybe the energy from a transwoman is different than the energy coming from a transman. maybe that energy isn’t what turns on certain people. certain people don’t like -me-/would never want to be with -me-. fine.

    i don’t know if i agree that our desires are influenced by our cultural context. if this were true, wouldn’t i, a ciswoman, be desiring a cisman? if i could have ‘fit in’, trust me i would have.

    but i agree that transmen should be careful with male power.

    i’d like to think i’m open minded etc. but when it comes down it, i have preferences for certain things over others. i can’t think anyone i know of that’s any different in that regard.

    • http://feministing.com/members/mikikiandguest/ Mikiki

      ok PP, so here’s why i’m really frustrated by your comment:
      yeah, i hear you – sometimes we want our sexual choices to be comfortable. And sometimes it’s just more comfortable to call transmen not men. the problem is: you’re wrong. What I’m seeing in your comment is a hella-tonne of cisnormativity informing your ‘point’ and your being totally unawares of it.
      also: maybe you were trying to say ‘…transmen are not the same as cis-men…’ and that would be not incorrect. what you did say was incorrect because the term men? it applies to trans-men as well. Both logical AND considerate.
      And i think that it sounds like you’re using ‘different energies’ to rationalize not having to deal with the discomfort we feel when we recognize that our own desires have been coopted and reprogrammed by a transmysogynistic, racist, fat-phobic media-machine and that being queer (alone) doesn’t mean we are exempt from critique of our desires and how we play them out.
      As someone who presents as a ‘dude’ a lot of the time in queer radical spaces I have seen a hellatonne of slut-shaming by queer women of gay and queer men in relation to STI/HIV risk so while I appreciate you wanting to keep ANYONE’s male privilege in check? I also want you to keep your transphobia in check too.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kayaker97/ Aiden

    I value your opinion in this article and I think you pose some valid questions within the contexts of trans* studies and sexuality studies. However, I think posing this question in an overly simplistic “us vs them” or “trans vs cis” manner is problematic because it reduces cis-sexuality to either “gay” or “straight” and ignores the wide varieties of sexual practices and identities that exist within both the trans* communities and the cis communities. I think it also ignores the overlap that exists between both communities, especially when examining cross-dressing communities. I also found in this article that there is a rather narrow definition of trans. I know plenty of trans people who opt to live their lives between the binary genders. This article seems to limit “trans” to people who pass as one gender or another, though I may be reading it in an unintended way. Lastly, why is being attracted to trans* people or to trans* men or trans* women AND someone who is cis-identified not a valid sexuality? Where do those who identify as bisexual or pansexual fall in the framework you have constructed in this article?

  • http://feministing.com/members/aliverono/ Alicia

    I love this! On point. However, I would add… I think queer communities need to check ourselves also, and not be quick- as some of us still are- to dub someone as “straight” or “not queer enough” when they engage in a heterosexual-appearing relationships or dynamics.

    For example,
    If a woman (trans or cis, or non-conforming female/feminine identified person) is dating a man (trans or cis, or non-conforming male/masculine identified person), it can still be very very QUEER. I’ve seen some queer women undermine a transman’s male identity by saying, “oh, but he’s trans” in efforts to “explain” why she’s dating a man, instead of a woman (which arguably would “appear” more queer). . . We have to think about whether or not, as a queer community, we are adding to the problematic terminology and labeling of people’s identities, by passing judgment and not allowing each other to be queer in whatever ways that may manifest in our worlds.

    In other words- YES, queer woman. You are still queer, even if you are dating a man. You do not need to disclose whether that man is trans or cis, etc. to “prove” your queerness. B/c stating those facts does not actually “prove” anything. Instead, try having a conversation that breaks down constructs of gender and sexuality to help “explain” your queer love life to a judgmental close-minded person. :)

    We don’t get to define another person’s “queerness”. . . we just have to respect it.

    (Not to mention, with that community respect and acceptance, comes growth and perhaps healing from some of the aforementioned traumas in this piece.) Thank you!

    • http://feministing.com/members/dancingyeti/ JT

      I loved this comment, and I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for articulating it far better than I could have!

    • http://feministing.com/members/mikikiandguest/ Mikiki

      DoubleYES!
      and you are also way more articulate and less grumpy than i am in trying to voice anything around this awesome post.
      Thanks!

  • http://feministing.com/members/intersexroadshow/ Cary Gabriel Costello

    Hear hear. I’m the blogger at TransFusion who drew up the graphic you use–glad you found it useful (and I do want to point out that it’s meant to be tongue in cheek–I’ve had some trans women feel upset by it because they read it as unironic).

    As a trans man, I want to really question my peers who get involved with cis women who voice this line. I agree with you that it’s the cis women who say “I date women and trans men” who are the core of the problem, spewing transphobic blather from a position of privilege that allows them not to see how the real traumas they’ve faced are not the only ones out there, and that having suffered oneself does not excuse bigotry towards others. But I have encountered my share of (as you note, often east-coast) trans guys who actively seek out cons and clubs and social circles that admit “women and trans men,” and I find that appalling.

    I get that I come from a different position from these guys, as I didn’t come up through the cis-lesbian-identified community. I do agree that it’s good to keep your friends through your transition. I understand a man only feeling comfortable dating women if they’re queer. But guys, if you get involved with a woman who says “I date women and trans me,”, you are perpetuating transphobia in ways that hurt both yourself and others. Dating a woman who doesn’t think you’re a “real man” will undermine your gender identity and self-respect, and you deserve better. I know, it’s not my right to tell you you can’t date someone because I think she’s bad for you–you’re a big boy, and you get to make your own decisions about what you can deal with. But what I can’t accept is trans men tolerating transmisogyny. You can consent to accept crap aimed at your own head, but you can’t consent on behalf of your sisters to have it thrown at them. Cis women who only date “women and trans men” produce social circles that explicitly or tacitly exclude trans women.

    In a misogynist and transmisogynist world, trans women have a harder path to walk than trans men, and if *we* don’t stand with our trans sisters, who will? So trans guys, please, there are plenty of other queer-identified, female-identified people out there who aren’t transphobic. Go seek them out. Find someone who dates men (whatever sex they were assigned at birth) or people (of all flavors) and who doesn’t treat you like a particularly butch lesbian. Then you won’t have to collect bad karma to get some good sex.

  • http://feministing.com/members/geeksdoitbetter/ cicely

    “but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality”

    this bit gave me pause

    i’ve spent the last 10 years resisting the notion that my sexuality could be defined by others, using who i fuck as the only criteria

    reading that i might “owe it” to anyone else, to frame my sexuality in a particular way … ~sigh~

    so very complicated

  • http://feministing.com/members/cruisethevistas/ cruisethevistas

    Jos, thank you for this article.

    As you say, “My trans brothers deserve better than sex in a frame that undermines their identities. This doesn’t mean queer cis women and gender non-conforming female assigned folks can’t fuck trans men, but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining.”

    I find it interesting that lesbians who sleep with trans men are being told to re-evaluate their identities as lesbians. It seems to me that lesbians are in charge of their own identities, and do not need to be told how to identify– just as queer and trans folk don’t need their identities policed either.

    Thanks for this space to discuss this important issue.

    • http://feministing.com/members/dancingyeti/ JT

      Agreed!

      I think a better way of framing this would be to encourage lesbians/queer- or gay-identified women who date trans men to refrain from explaining the seeming incongruity of their partner’s gender with their own orientation by framing those partners as somehow “not male” or “man lite” and, instead, frame the relationship as they would if they had fallen for a cis man. If one is firmly lesbian-identified, then dating a man, any kind of man, could be seen as an “exception” to that identity. I know quite a few lesbian-identified folks who have ended up in relationships with cis men and still ID as lesbian.

  • http://feministing.com/members/checkel/ ck

    I have a lot of things I would like to say to this, but I think this piece autostraddle ran a year ago explains everything better than I can: http://www.autostraddle.com/trans-men-and-queer-women-whos-a-boy-to-date-103432/

    “I’m starting to realize that although a woman who typically likes women being attracted to me does usually mean that she is differentiating between me and non-trans men, it doesn’t mean that that differentiation has anything to do with my gender. Her being attracted to my sensitivity or the inner growth I gained through transition or her being more comfortable with me because I’ve been a guy’s girlfriend before and know what privilege and power feel like or because I’m more aware of queerdom than most straight non-trans men…. these things do not mean she is not affirming me as a man.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/borogove/ Russell Borogove

    Personally, I feel that the argument “it’s basing your frame for sexuality on the gender coercively assigned” reduces people to a gender binary without regard for the culture they came up in. Trans men are much more likely than cis men to have moved in lesbian social circles, often identifying as lesbian before identifying as trans. They’re more likely to understand and to be concerned with women’s issues and queer issues than cis men. Being bisexual myself, someone’s cultural orientation is way more important to me than their gender identification. I’m not trying to dismiss a trans man’s maleness by saying this, I’m trying to avoid dismissing an individual’s complex individual identity.

    • http://feministing.com/members/dancingyeti/ JT

      I think it’s a common misconception that trans men are more likely than cis men “to understand and to be concerned woith women’s issues and queer issues.” Female socialization does not a feminist make.

  • http://feministing.com/members/meddling/ Vivian

    Brings to mind a thread from the past.
    http://community.dev.feministing.com/2010/07/18/i-wouldnt-fuck-a-trans-person/
    In the comments there are plenty of examples of feminists not getting it…
    In my experience queer women love to have me in the community as a trans woman but it is very few who would actually consider a serious relationship with a trans woman. Not an issue for me anymore as I have a partner (who is male by the way) and do not hang around the queer women’s community anymore but I am concerned for younger trans women as they try to find their place.

  • http://feministing.com/members/justinadkins/ justin adkins

    Jos, as someone that, to my knowledge, does not identify as a trans* male, please do not speak for trans* men or tell us what we should do, especially when it comes to our sex lives.

    I TOTALLY agree that there is an issue in the trans* masculine community with unchecked misogyny, this is something I often speak about privately and publically. However, please do not tell me what undermines my identity.

    I agree that in cis-female space there is often a “born female” trend in discussion. And that in all of US Amerikan society there is a rather disconcerting way of privileging masculinity over femininity. Gay male profiles on grinder and manhunt are prime examples.

    However, that does not give anyone room to tell trans* guys that we accept what you term a “misgendering sexuality frame” just because it makes it easier to get laid.

    Finding cis women who like our manly parts is difficult. Our manly parts are different than cis-women parts. To assume that they are the same is totally off base.

    I do not think that the framework you purpose is so simple. There are people who like cis-women parts and trans guy parts. Just as there are people who have a preference toward cis-male parts and trans women parts, or just cis-male parts, etc.

    This said, I think that many cis people say these things are saying them on a mis-guided assumption of “socialization”. Let’s point our fingers at this, socialization, instead of what trans* men “accept” in their hookups.

    Let people self-identify.

    If you are going to critique a framework, rock on, but do so without appearing to tell a group of people, especially whom you do not personally identify with, what to do and accept. To me, that seems patriarchal.

    • http://feministing.com/members/treib/ treib

      Yes I was also thrown by the blanket assertion that trans men “undermine” themselves by sleeping with non-cismale-desiring women. Shouldn’t we have feminist red flags going up about the whole matter of telling people they “disrespect” themselves through their sexual choices?

      Also, as a trans dude I do not understand this specific line of reasoning: how on earth is the legitimacy of a someone’s desire for *my* male body contingent upon their desire for some *other* male body?? Because if they were REALLY into men, they’d be into cis men? That seems like an alarming argument, which (among other things) reifies cis manhood as the universal standard of manhood writ large.

    • http://feministing.com/members/intersexroadshow/ Cary Gabriel Costello

      Justin, I really take issue with your stance that a trans woman isn’t allowed to critique trans men’s behavior (which is not what Jos’ post is about anyway), particularly when you conclude with the stinger that when she does this it is “patriarchal,” which implies that somehow she’s acting like a man. I don’t see how you can justify OVERTLY undermining Jos’ identity while complaining that she’s meddling somehow in your identity.

      I just think it’s very important for we trans men to always bear in mind that we occupy a more privileged position than trans women, which means we need to listen respectfully to what they have to say, query our resistance to points they make, and be respectful in our replies.

    • http://feministing.com/members/shasty/ emmie

      Justin, it appears you do not know that Jos is actually transgendered herself. She’s a trans woman. Yes she may not be trans MAN, but she obviously does know a lot about trans issues. So I think it was wrong to say, that she doesn’t know what it’s like to identify with being trans, because she is.

  • http://feministing.com/members/tannerjevans/ Tanner John Evans

    This is particularly interesting to me. I’m gynephilic. I find myself attracted sexually to female-assigned-at-birth trans men, as well as cisgendered females, but not cisgendered males. Naturally, this presents some issues. I have recently been actively struggling to come to terms with these facts, and as you so well put it, “to recognize that [I] sleep with men, and to question why [I'm] OK with sleeping with trans men and not cis men.” It is not easy, and you have given me good food for thought. Thank you. :)

    • http://feministing.com/members/dancingyeti/ JT

      It seems like you’re making the assumption that all trans men have vaginas. There are plenty of trans guys who have had various types of bottom surgery. If you’re only attracted to folks with vaginas, perhaps a better term to use would be “vaginaphilic.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/honna/ Honna

    Thank you for the thoughtful piece. Another issue the article doesn’t touch too much on that I think is at play here is the paradigm of queer women (especially femme identified ones) feeling pressure to sort of “prove” our queerness, and I think that, as well as the past trauma that the author mentions, is where part of the urge to distinguish trans from cisendered male dates comes from. I totally agree about the ways in which it is problematic to everyone involved. Also, it doesn’t address the invisiblizing of trans female people, which I think is also a broader issue.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sylvia123/ Sylvia

    I take issue with the idea that cissexism is “basing your frame for sexuality on the gender coercively assigned to a person by their doctor at birth, not on that person’s actual identity.” Actually, no. My sexual preference is not based on your gender identity. It’s based on my sexuality, which has a sex preference. So, while some people do have a gender-relative sexuality (and I’ve met some who insist that gender is completely irrelevant to their choices), for some it’s based on genitals and bodies. Desire is not all queer theory workshop material; for me it’s about the desire for contact with some pretty specific body parts, not theory. It’s not about what I reject, either, only patriarchy defines my sexuality as “doesn’t do dick” because it’s all focused on what they are missing. In reality, my sexuality is about why I desire, lust after, want to touch and bury myself into. Perhaps this is experienced differently for different folks, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to argue that everyone’s sexuality has to line up with your gender identity. My desire wants to connect to a body, not an identity. Desire doesn’t works the same way for every single person and I think that’s ok.
    As a final note, I think it’s offensive to equate a willingness to sleep with trans guys and not cis guys as a symptom of sexual trauma. That’s an old misogynist line about how queer girls are broken in some ways that turned them off men. Sexual preference is not an issue to be pathologized, and it’s not that mysterious either. That’s a low shot – and shouldn’t be part of this discussion. I suspect the willingness to partner with trans guys has more to do with the fluidity of many people’s sexual desire, a shared culture of queerness and the absence of dicks from the equation – but to find out, you’d actually have to ask instead of shutting them up with accusations of cissexism.
    I know it’s a complex issue and that both you and I have oversimplified our arguments, but there’s a pretty straight line you can draw here that’s being left out, that sexuality is experienced differently for each person, and that the concept of same-gendered attraction has just been a polite way of saying that you lust after a specific collection of body parts. Maybe sexual attraction has more to do with the sex bits than you think.

    • http://feministing.com/members/intersexroadshow/ Cary Gabriel Costello

      Just a question, Sylvia: are you only attracted to people once you’ve seen their genitals? Do you never kiss anyone until you’ve checked out their bits?

    • http://feministing.com/members/treefinger/ Candice

      “As a final note, I think it’s offensive to equate a willingness to sleep with trans guys and not cis guys as a symptom of sexual trauma. That’s an old misogynist line about how queer girls are broken in some ways that turned them off men. ”

      I agree, but Jos didn’t pull this out of thin air. Queer women themselves are always using this to justify the idea of excluding trans women as a strict rule, because they have, or used to have, penises. Or because they think getting treated as a male by society makes them incapable of understanding women’s oppression (protip to people who think this: socialization is partly the messages we absorb, not just how we are treated externally. It might rock your world if you knew how many trans women absorbed media messages about femininity, and how many trans men just ignored them as they assumed the messages didn’t apply to them). It’s them that this narrative is coming from.

  • http://feministing.com/members/simoan/ Simone

    What makes people think that policing anyone’s sexuality is a good thing? How about we leave people to enjoy their sexuality however they see fit and stop acting like anyone else’s opinion about it is important in any way. As long as the people are adults who are honest with each other, it’s nobody else’s business.

  • http://feministing.com/members/songthe/ song

    I do believe in all honestly that Feministing should pull a contributing blogger that submits pieces like this. Attempting to remove sexual agency through coercion or guilt-tripping is baloney. I am frankly stunned that this blogger is unaware of the fact that nobody gets to police the sex lives of consenting adults. Every consenting adult is entitled by right to choose whom they will and will not sleep with, and those reasons are nobody else’s to judge, let alone scold. I hope this piece will be disregarded to the trash bin by readers for its offensive mistake of admonishing people for their sexual preferences and choices. This is a feminist website, and this kind of blog piece is most assuredly not feminist.

    • http://feministing.com/members/treefinger/ Candice

      No one is saying you can’t sleep with whoever you want, regardless of how stupid your reasons are. A white supremacist can only sleep with white people if they want, they shouldn’t be forced to sleep with POC by law. Consent is always going to be personal and not bound by what s morally right. But a lot of “oh I only date women and trans men” lesbians will NEVER be honest with themselves about the reasons WHY they exclude trans women and trans men. Most of them have transphobia to work through. At least the guy on this post who talks about being “gynephiliac” admits his preference is influenced by social norms and concepts. Honesty is all it takes, I have no problem with anybody saying “I only date cis women and trans men, because I have a mistaken illusion that trans men will understand women’s oppression better than trans women and cis men, it’s unfortunate but I guess the prevailing social narrative about who is and isn’t a woman has coloured my personal preferences, I can’t help that”, but I do have a problem with “pee pee doo doo society not influence my sexuality at all, I only like vagina”.

      • http://feministing.com/members/treefinger/ Candice

        *exclude trans women and NOT trans men, I meant.

  • http://feministing.com/members/anders83/ ferris

    This is more based on ideology, than labels that describes a sect of people. People tend to love the idea of what so called Here there is only man, and woman, the distance the trans community wishes to expand upon this basic existence. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are generic ideas of one clearly defined medium, opposite, and same sex dating. It’s simple and non-expansive. When you begin to dissect to add differing variables of the ideas of both, it transforms into another separate ideology. To choose to become a man, is a differing process and psychology that should not be considered queer. The goals surrounding their choice are what makes process of change queer or not. If you decide to undergo the entire trans process, in full you should still be considered trans man or woman, but categorized with others of your new gender. Therefore if a trans-man engages in a relationship with a woman, trans or not, it should labeled heterosexual, vice versa. It all comes back to man and woman, defined, homosexuality and heterosexuality defined and respecting those definitions. Going through the trans process should not be an distinctively or immediately labeled queer.

  • http://feministing.com/members/katniss/ Katniss

    I’m trying really hard to understand your overarching point here Jos – but I’m struggling.

    Are you trying to say that for me, as a straight cis-woman, it is somehow morally wrong or ethically questionable for me to be exclusively sexually attracted to cis-men and not to trans-men?

    Isn’t sexual attraction often inextricably linked (for many of us) with the genitals/body/sex, as much as it is with the gender identity of the people we’re attracted to?

    I just fail to see how a person with such a wonderfully inclusive and respectful perspective on gender legitimacy is so resistant to the idea that, all things being equal, everyone’s individual sexual attractions/orientations are legitimate. Unless there is some serious evidence to believe that bigotry, is a part of a person’s worldview, then I think it’s really unfair to suggest that we should all question the fact that we’re not all attracted to everybody equally, regardless of their gender identity or sex.

    And doesn’t it perpetuate gender binary to suggest that it’s wrong to be attracted to cis-men and not trans-men, (or vice versa)?! You acknowledged in your Girl Talk piece that language is important, and that using “trans” and “cis” is critical in the fight against oppression, but now it seems as though you are trying to lump everyone back into “men” and “women”, as if there should be no difference between trans and cis women and men.

    You said: “trans men’s male identities are just as legitimate as cis men’s”. I couldn’t agree more, but please don’t assume the worst about me because I am only sexually attracted to one of them.

    I share in your frustration with transphobia, just as I share in your frustration with misogyny, but I’m not sure that judging others’ sexual attractions/orientation is the way to address those frustrations.

    Yes, there are tons of people out there who are sexist, homophobic and transphobic, and their sexual attractions likely reflect their bigotry. But for those of us who are not bigoted in these ways, and actively fight against such bigotry, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that we each have legitimate sexual preferences based, in part, on our partners’ genitals/body/sex — and that there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Sexual orientation is not solely about gender identity. It’s also about sex.

    • http://feministing.com/members/treefinger/ Candice

      No, she is saying that your reasons for only being attracted to cis men is because you grew up in a society where having a cis penis was the most important defining factor of manhood. This doesn’t make you a bad person or mean you should start sleeping with trans men if you don’t want to. It just means that you should recognize the fact that your preferences have been influenced by transphobic social narratives and be honest about it.

      Genitals would probably be a less important factor in people’s sexuality if it weren’t for the fact that literally every social message we get about sex and sexual acts revolves around “tab a slot b” nonsense. Again, if genitals are that important to you then it doesn’t make you bad or anything, but you should question the idea that they are inherently important.

      • http://feministing.com/members/katniss/ Katniss

        Hi Candice – thanks for your comments. I’m going to try to articulate my thoughts on this super complicated and wordy topic to the best of my ability. Please bear with me.

        You said that I should, “question the idea that genitals are inherently important”. I’m sorry but I find this to be incredibly naïve and even bordering on offensive. If I were to make the argument that transgendered people only care about their gender identity so much because every social message we get from birth is highlighting the masculine and the feminine and the differences between the two, that would be super offensive and wrong, and I would never do that. Instead, I recognize that gender identity is really important to the vast majority of people and that it is biologically pre-determined. This is why so many trans people opt for surgeries to their bodies – it isn’t enough to believe in their mind that they are on one end of the gender spectrum – they would like their bodies to match their minds. Would you tell them that their gender identity they’ve felt since childhood is not real and shouldn’t matter at all — that it’s just society trying to put you in a box marked F or M? No. I honour their individual experiences and take them at their word that gender identity is extremely important to them, and sometimes that means trying to match one’s genitals to one’s gender identity.

        Genitals matter in sex. Genitals matter in gender. Genitals matter in sexual orientation.

        We can, and should, talk about all the ways that cis-sexism and trans-phobia manifest themselves in all of our lives… but we should also honour and legitimize the experiences of every individual when it comes to their gender identity and sexual orientation.

        It’s one thing to suggest that our sexual attractions relating to personalities, temperaments, interests, hobbies, familial backgrounds, hair colour, eye colour, height and size, are influenced by society, and we should all be really careful about letting bigotry seep into those additional preferences when choosing a partner. However, as soon as you start to question the sexual orientation (including gender and sex/genitals/body), you will lose 99% of the people you are talking to. The experience of the vast majority of people (gay, straight or bi) when it comes to sexual orientation is that genitals matter as much as gender identity. And there’s nothing wrong or bigoted about that.

        Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not here to defend the poor straight cis-people. We do not need defending. We are often the awful and oppressive majority who desperately need more reflection and empathy – the kind that I believe Jos was encouraging in the queer cis-women community in her piece. No, I’m here to argue that your comments (and Jos’ original article) go about fighting against cis-sexism, transphobia and transmisogyny in the wrong way. Questioning people’s sexual orientation because it includes both gender identity and sex/genitals/body, is not okay. It makes me question whether you just think that the only “right” or “pure” way to be sexually attracted to people is to be attracted to everyone, regardless of sex and gender. And whenever we find ourselves attempting to weed out the “unpure” in sexual categories, we’ve gone a step backward, not forward.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ginasf/ Gina Morvay

    Hey Jos, I was at Girl Talk and I just wanted to say that your piece was my favorite one of the evening. And that I found most of the pieces by cis women to barely even be on topic nor were they in any way about having any kind of physical relationship with trans women (one was seriously about giving birth to children??…which says a LOT about how hard that evening is to put together). You and Emily told it like it is and I appreciated it.

    In response to ppplease… no, these are very specifically queer identified, FAAB people who only want to have relationships with trans guys, transmasculine guys and cis women. And no, it’s not just about ‘they don’t like penises’… this is applied to post-op trans women as well (because their ‘supposed’ vaginas were ‘really’ penises and because of their ‘male’ upbringing). It’s called the ‘cotton ceiling’, a much recently debated term come up with by trans woman porn performer Drew Devereaux, who noticed that, while many queer FAAB women love to talk about the trans community, their positive relationship to it and how much of an ally they are, they still don’t want to touch anyone who’s a trans woman. That’s what she’s talking about. And there is far more than one dominant straight cultural context floating around. Racism, ablism, lookism, agism and transmisogyny are grafted onto many different cultural contexts including… *shock-horror* some of the queer worlds which you might inhabit.

  • http://feministing.com/members/joannavirginia/ Joanna

    The movement for trans rights has made so many advancements in the past few years. But reading your description of the gender dynamics there, all I can think is: There has been no actual progress for trans people in society. Not when these backward social attitudes toward trans people characterize the (ostensibly) most progressive people in the nation, political queer feminists. What hope is there for the rest of society to get a clue? The takeaway from this article is that trans people, both men and women, have made zero progress at being who they are, and are still categorized by even the most progressive cis people as the gender they were coercively assigned at birth.

  • http://feministing.com/members/atomiczombie/ Drew Nelson

    As a transguy, I have strong feelings about this. I think it is fine to be attracted to women and transmen exclusively. Just because someone likes transmen and not cis men, it is reading too much into that to make that mean that they don’t see us transmen as men. Transguys like me are men, AND we are a particular type of man. Using myself as an example, I am different from a cis man in that I was raised and socialized differently than a male typically is. I know what it is like to be treated like a woman. I know what it is like to be raped as a woman; I know what it is like to have a period; to be the victim of gross sexism and treated as an inferior because I was born female and pre-transition. These and a number of other things don’t make me any less of a man, but they do make me different from cis men. I don’t reject my past and pretend it didn’t happen. Having grown up the way I did, I learned a lot about gender, sexism and patriarchy. I am glad I did. It makes me more sensitive about sexism and aware of both male and cis privilege and the consequences of both. So yeah, that makes me different from a cis male. If a femme girl finds that piece of me attractive then I have no issue with that. That doesn’t mean she thinks I am not a man. She appreciates how growing up in a female body has shaped my personality. I think that’s pretty cool.

  • http://feministing.com/members/karavision/ Kara

    I’m a transwomen and while I agree with much of this. I believe that the author did the piece a disservice by talking about who people sleep with. We see the same thing when talking about Gay men who shun people of color, people of a certain size, transpeople, etc.

    People can always be as choosey as they want to when it comes to the bedroom. It is their right. Most times, those preferences extend to the rest of their lives; and that is the best place to pick apart why people exclude others. Who you lay down with is way too personal a decision to be expected to defend to the public. It gives people an easy out. Like some of the comments of above me.

  • http://feministing.com/members/alesbianandascholar/ radicallyqueer

    Hell yes, Jos!

    I’ve always found it incredibly weird that this terminology exists in the queer community. I feel a little guilty about the fact that I’m mostly attracted to women and trans men. Cis men just, for the most part, don’t do it for me. But when I say that’s whom I’m attracted to, I forget that I have to qualify it–it’s completely fucking silly that while the folks I’m attracted to tend to be trans women for the most part, I have to explain “oh and by women I ACTUALLY MEAN WOMEN.” Before I really picked up on the degree of cissexism among queer women generally, I said to someone that I feel bad about really only being attracted to women and trans men, and she went into a rant about how oh yeah, totally understand, penises, gross! I think I blinked a lot before I understood what she meant.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ottawatransguy/ Alex

    This is rediculous! Who are you to decide what others sexual attractions are? I am a transman that dates cis women, and there is notheing wrong with that! It is my personal prefference. Do you know how many gay men say wouldn’t even consider dating a transman? Funny you comment on women saying they date women and transmen but you don’t comment on men who say they date men and transwomen?!?!? If you want to do something for the community why not discuss misogyny in the gay male community, or misandry in the lesbian community? When transmen ask you to advocate for them feel free, but until them let us decide who we want to date and how we want to identify!

    • http://feministing.com/members/intersexroadshow/ Cary Gabriel Costello

      Alex, Jos said nothing about there being anything wrong with a trans man enjoying dating cis women. She said there’s something wrong with the statement “I date women and trans men.” That’s a statement I’ve heard in cis-lesbian-centric circles many times, while I’ve never actually heard anyone say “I date men and trans women.” (There’s a very different if also damaging dynamic in the gay male community.)

  • http://feministing.com/members/ginasf/ Gina Morvay

    Anyone has a right to be attracted to whom they wish… I agree with that statement. No one should be coerced to have sex with someone they don’t wish to have sex with.

    However, don’t turn around and pretend your preferences aren’t rooted in various forms of entitlement and social oppression. How might you feel about someone making these statements: I only date women, but they have to have two functional legs (because I like being seen as sporty), under 25% body fat (because fat girlhood isn’t the same as a thin girlhood), those with functional hearing, white people (we smell different), and people who went to grad school (because they’re likely to be more intelligent than those who didn’t). Every one of these statements is ALSO a statement about people who don’t fit into your ‘groups of attraction.’ And they are class-wide statements, not statements about specific individuals with specific life circumstances.

    And let’s look at these preferences some more. If you want to date trans guys, do you also include trans guys who have a penis, either through medicalized means or because they consider the parts they were born with “a cock?” Do you consider a trans woman who’s had SRS someone who has a vagina a more likely partner… or is it a ‘class of a vagina that’s really a made of penis kind of vagina?’… a vagina with an asterisk next to it. Are you more inclined to be attracted to a trans woman who’s been raped as a young person and/or experienced molestation as a child? If you met a cis queer woman who’s never had cramps and only had very light menstrual discharge all her life, is she a less than desirable candidate for attraction for those reasons because her periods aren’t like your own? No one… I repeat, no one is telling you either who to f*ck or or you should be attracted to… but (what I hear) Jos saying is to think about your reasoning for including/excluding people, that it might not be as much of a “great life mystery” as you think and that just maybe, you’re not as queer, panssexual (or progressive) as you think you are.

    • http://feministing.com/members/songthe/ song

      Gina, the answer to most of your questions is, “None of your freaking business.” I’m saying this as someone whom agrees with most of the things you bring up.

      This feels exactly the same as when “pro-lifer” people, feeling entitled to an explanation I never owed them, have started “discussions” with me to ask why I had more than one abortion, and did I know my choices had such and such results, and to tell me my choices were rooted in wrongness because of this or that reason, and “let us tell you why, Songthe”. Then they tell me how I should rethink my choices because of course I had skipped that part before.

      In the end, not only am I angry for people not minding their own business, I’m angry because they’ve attempted (unsuccessfully) to shame me into seeing my sex life their way. As if by the time I am sleeping with someone, I haven’t already worked out how to make it as comfortable as possible both for myself and my partner. The effrontery of barging into people’s private sex lives to question their choices and assume the reasons behind those choices is astounding.

      I would say before someone decides to poke their nose into a sensitive topic like sexual choices for the purpose of schooling others, take a pause. You may be holding too many assumptions and feelings of entitlement in giving us your opinion on how we’re doing it wrong if we aren’t doing it your way.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ginasf/ Gina Morvay

    Here’s my comment on Jos’ thread (see what you think)

    Anyone has a right to be attracted to whom they wish… I agree with that statement. No one should be coerced to have sex with someone they don’t wish to have sex with.

    However, don’t turn around and pretend your preferences aren’t rooted in various forms of entitlement and social oppression. How might you feel about someone making these statements: I only date women, but they have to have two functional legs (because I like being seen as sporty), under 25% body fat (because fat girlhood isn’t the same as a thin girlhood), those with functional hearing, white people (we smell different), and people who went to grad school (because they’re likely to be more intelligent than those who didn’t). Every one of these statements is ALSO a statement about people who don’t fit into your ‘groups of attraction.’ And they are class-wide statements, not statements about specific individuals with specific life circumstances.

    And let’s look at these preferences some more. If you want to date trans guys, do you also include trans guys who have a penis, either through medicalized means or because they consider the parts they were born with “a cock?” Do you consider a trans woman who’s had SRS someone who has a vagina a more likely partner… or is it a ‘class of a vagina that’s really a made of penis kind of vagina?’… a vagina with an asterisk next to it. Are you more inclined to be attracted to a trans woman who’s been raped as a young person and/or experienced molestation as a child? If you met a cis queer woman who’s never had cramps and only had very light menstrual discharge all her life, is she a less than desirable candidate for attraction for those reasons because her periods aren’t like your own? No one… I repeat, no one is telling you either who to f*ck or or you should be attracted to… but (what I hear) Jos saying is to think about your reasoning for including/excluding people, that it might not be as much of a “great life mystery” as you think and that just maybe, you’re not as queer, panssexual (or progressive) as you think you are.

  • http://feministing.com/members/exuberantcodpiece/ exuberantcodpiece

    I think it’s important to understand that how someone identifies in terms of sexual orientation is personal and may not align with conventional understanding of sexuality. So for example, I criticize homophobia and the pressure to act/be straight but I don’t tell men who sleep with men that they must be gay or bisexual. That said, yeah, this should be criticized /as a community norm/. A lot of the “reasons” that people bring up in the comments, e.g. trans men are more sensitive, came up in lesbian circles, have experienced oppression, have particular physical features, etc. are not true for all trans men (and they are often true for some trans women.) Tl;dr: you can identify as a lesbian and date a guy. It does not invalidate your identity and your identity does not invalidate your partner’s identity.

    Personally I stopped dating lesbians and straight men because they have tended to see me (a trans guy) as female and/or have trouble reconciling their attraction with their orientation. But I am very open to the possibility that some lesbians and some straight men can date/fuck/marry/whatever men and not have those issues.

    @ Sylvia, it’s absolutely true that some people (but not all) have sexual attraction based on genitals. Maybe people could say just that: “I am attracted to people who have a vulva/vagina” (it’s not a bad word!) instead of saying they’re attracted to women and trans men. There are trans men who have penises and trans women who have vaginas.

    @ Joanna: I don’t think that’s the takeaway at all. We’ve made enormous progress in being who we are and part of that is the continually evolving understanding of intersectionality. *Some* of the ostensibly most progressive people are still transphobic, but not all. And some people who are not at all progressive accept trans people without any problem.

    @ Drew Nelson: I respect your point of view, but I want to point out that there are trans men who were not socialized or treated as women and trans men who do not think of themselves as particularly different from cis men. Women of color, trans women, and other women outside mainstream feminism have been pointing out for a long time that there is not a unified experience of womanhood/girlhood. So, when a cis woman says that she is attracted only to [cis] women and trans men (generally, not referring to a specific person) because of an imagined commonality of experience, she has failed to recognize that trans men are not a monolith but men of varied experiences and also excluded trans women who may in fact have much in common with her.

  • http://feministing.com/members/crandbou/ Crandbou

    I’m a transman (post-chest surgery, post-hormones), and for several reasons, I disagree.

    First, I would rather be loved for my body than despite my body. I’m comfortable with the current state of my genitals, and I can’t realistically expect women who only like penises to be sexually attracted to me. Just as I think it’s fine for someone to say, “I’m attracted to blondes/big butts/muscles/whatever,” it’s also fine to be attracted to some genitals over others. If we accept that queer people are born that way, that also means accepting that some people innately prefer some physical characteristics. It’s not misgendering to say that I have a vagina. I do, and that’s great. (Transmen who don’t have, or don’t feel that they have, vaginas are obviously not included in this statement.)

    So, perhaps more accurately than your post’s headline, I’m okay with women (or men) saying, “I like people who have, and are comfortable with having, vaginas, regardless of gender.” I also look younger and “softer” than most men, and I’m also cool with people who are attracted to that look. It’s part of who I am.

    Second, I’m conscious of the fact that I have a more nuanced perspective on gender issues than most men. I expect women to find this a plus. And they’re simply more likely to find this trait among transgender men. It’s for the same reason that many people of color say that they prefer to date other people of color.

    • http://feministing.com/members/crandbou/ Crandbou

      Sorry, the HTML bold tags didn’t quite work out there. Think I forgot a slash somewhere. Mods, you can take them out.

    • http://feministing.com/members/riverrunsthru/ River

      I really liked your comment, Crandbou, because it’s personal. Many of the ideas that I am hearing are trying to lump everyone’s basis for sexuality together. I think your explanation of sexuality, taking it from a personal standpoint that incorporates many aspects of your identity, is powerful and important. Attraction is a personal thing, and happens in intimate ways. To deny the intimacy needed for real, raw attraction is to terribly simplify things. And arguments that bunch people together or make assumptions based on statements that could mean many things to individuals with varied experiences, lack intimacy.

  • http://feministing.com/members/timberwraith/ timberwraith

    Great article, Jos. Although noticeably unpopular, you’ve shined light on matters that people would prefer not to examine.

    The negative comments here are hardly surprising. People aren’t terribly willing to consider that maybe–just maybe–their own sexual desire is inadvertently modulated by commonly held prejudices. There are some aspects of the personal that people would rather not make political. After all, that would ruin their sense of fun and sexy goodness.

    But really, do you actually think that classism, racism, ableism, fat phobia, xenophobia, biphobia and a whole host of other prejudices have no impact on desire? Do you think trans misogyny is somehow different from other prejudices and therefore, has no effect?

    Perhaps you are the innocent one? Are you far too crunchy, progressive, feminist, or radical to be influenced by such matters? Are you just too sex positive to let commonly held prejudices guide your sense of fuckability? When you see someone and they make your heart race and your nether regions grow distractingly active, that’s just the outcome of your innate being, right? Revulsion and discomfort are never a matter of prejudice. That could never have an impact on one’s pulse and one’s nethers, could it?

    Think again.

  • http://feministing.com/members/treib/ treib

    One apparent assumption of this article that I struggle with is the idea that if you accept that desire is political, then it is therefore viable to critique people’s desires. Of course desire is conditioned by politics (as feminists of many walks have argued for years)– I’m not sure there’s *any* desire in existence that’s not shaped in *some* way by ageism, classism, racism, lookism, ableism, sizeism, etc etc. Convincing cis queer women to become sexually open to trans women won’t liberate desire from oppressive politics. Nor am I convinced that it’s a very good strategy for fighting transmisogyny. (If cis queer women are transphobic, is getting them to desire trans women’s bodies really a solution??) However, decades of feminist (and especially lesbian feminist) debate have demonstrated how risky it is to use people’s desires as an index of their politics. “Politics of desire” critiques have given us several decades of butch/femme-phobia, it gave us the antipornography movement, it gave us the idea that “all heterosexual sex is rape,” etc. Critiquing how people inhabit, describe, and deploy their sexualities has also historically been classist, racist, and anti-sex worker. It is difficult for me to see how further sexually policing some of the world’s *most* sexually policed groups–ie women (whether they’re trans or cis) and trans people (whether they’re trans men or otherwise)–is an acceptable response to a political problem. I of course wholeheartedly agree with the author’s ultimate object of critique: transmisogyny is real! I even agree that transmisogyny frequently manifests in people’s desires–I am definitely familiar with the cultural phenomenon being described here. I also get that it’s shitty to feel like an aspect of your identity that makes life difficult in so many other ways also makes you undesirable in your own community (as a trans man who sleeps with cis dudes, I’m also familiar with that general experience). But that doesn’t mean that it’s defensible to argue for the sexual availability of others as a response, and I think it’s fair that so many people are having feminist alarm bells go off in their heads upon reading this. I think there are a lot of other ways that we should be working to fight transmisogyny in queer communities–and hopefully as a result of that work, one day we’ll have a queer world where this sexual trend doesn’t exist–but I don’t think that desire itself can be one of the arenas for that fight.

    • http://feministing.com/members/crandbou/ Crandbou

      I agree. It’s one thing to police people’s behavior and speech. It’s quite another thing to police their deep-seated desires.

    • http://feministing.com/members/treefinger/ Candice

      No one is arguing “for the sexual availability of others”, Jesus Christ. The argument is that cis women need to be honest about the reasons their desires are shaped a certain way, not that they should actually change their desires. No one literally wants cis queer women to sleep with trans women if they don’t want to.

      It’s all about encouraging people to EXAMINE themselves and intellectually accept that their preferences, language, way of life is structured and influenced by social forces. I know that third wave sex positive feminism, though I love it, seems to think that critiquing the personal/sexual is “off the table”, but it shouldn’t be. We just need to find a way of critiquing and becoming self-aware without falling into the trap of some second wave feminists, who tried to critique some forms of sexuality more than others or condemn certain practices (e.g.: early criticism of BDSM implies that notions of hierarchy don’t powerfully inform vanilla sexuality, and ended up using BDSM as a scapegoat instead of encouraging a restrained, non-shaming critique of the entire spectrum of sexual behaviour).

    • http://feministing.com/members/hidon/ Leigh

      Hi Treib. I literally created an account here to co-sign your comment, I agree so strongly with it. This statement of yours really sums up my argument as a cis lesbian who will not interact with a penis sexually and does not accept being called a “transphobic” “bigot” for it (As this Feministing article accuses: http://community.dev.feministing.com/2010/07/18/i-wouldnt-fuck-a-trans-person/): “…that doesn’t mean that it’s defensible to argue for the sexual availability of others as a response, and I think it’s fair that so many people are having feminist alarm bells go off in their heads upon reading this. I think there are a lot of other ways that we should be working to fight transmisogyny in queer communities–and hopefully as a result of that work, one day we’ll have a queer world where this sexual trend doesn’t exist–but I don’t think that desire itself can be one of the arenas for that fight.”

      Your comments are articulate and dead-on.

  • http://feministing.com/members/timberwraith/ timberwraith

    Here’s a little personal honesty.

    I grew up in an extremely racist suburb of Baltimore in the 70s and 80s. I was a product of my childhood environment and grew into a fairly racist individual by the time I hit young adulthood. Nevertheless, I struggled to rid myself of that racism in the following decades of my twenties and thirties.

    I am now 43. Only in the past few years have I begun to notice a physical/romantic attraction to black people. Does that mean I was an “ango-sexual” until just recently? Did I have an innate disinterest in the physical qualities of people of African descent? Or did the racism of my hometown and the racism of white dominated society warp my sexuality into something sad, broken, and unconsciously prejudicial? Could that damage have lingered decades after I realized that racism was a horrible, hurtful plague upon the culture I live in?

    The political can be maddeningly personal–in ways that effect us in the most intimate of matters. Society wide prejudice effects the most well meaning of us. Best intentions only go so far in ferreting out deeply embedded forms of discomfort. One thing is certain, if you are unwilling to admit the ways in which your prejudices have effected your life (including your sexuality) change will not come and you will continue to be a part of a society wide problem.

    Admitting the truth, no matter how embarrassing, is the first step.

  • http://feministing.com/members/karuwa/ Karina Werner-Waage

    I would love to understand what the issue you’d like to discuss is. But I (boring heterosexual female – I guess that is “cis female”?) fail to transcribe the message. It’s a terminology problem on my end, I get that much, along with some (sub)cultural things that I’ve never been exposed to.

    Anyway, it sounds like you’re criticizing group W for being attracted (or claiming to be) to group X and also Y, but not to Z, although Z would be closer to X (whew!), because Z identifies being closer to X than Y does???

    As you can tell, I’m super confused.

    Attraction, for me personally anyway, is something very individual, situational, whimsical. And even if our proclaimed preferences boil down to “I date [what;ev]“, every time we do date somebody, it might be somebody who is completely out of that interval. And after we dated that somebody, we might say “I wish I had never dated this @#%$$!!”. But still our “I date [what;ev]” might not have changed.

    And besides it being individual, situational, whimsical, it’s also subjective. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I don’t care if somebody is a man in a female body before/within/after transition, which, I guess, is a very crude analogy to the problem you’re raising (?). I care if my own perception of that person is “male” (which is what I date without any further adjectives for this example).

    I don’t want to say that for somebody to date a person who’s fairly far away from that person’s [what;ev] is impossible. It might just need time for it to be individual, situational, whimsical.

  • http://feministing.com/members/timberwraith/ timberwraith

    One more thing.

    In my women’s studies classes in college (two decades ago) we spent a fair amount of time analyzing the ways in which society creates values and images around what is desirable in female bodies. We examined the ways in which this created internalized oppression in women, economic support for the fashion/cosmetics industry, and eating disorders. We also examined the ways in which these expectations intertwined with the negative behaviors of men toward women.

    In short, a large portion of my feminist studies dealt with sexuality and sexual desire and the impact the associated social forces had upon women. Consequently, when I hear people encouraging us to avoid addressing issues of sexuality and desire in ways that impact trans women’s lives, I see a double standard. It’s fine if we discuss sexuality and desire in ways that affect both cis and trans women, but not OK to discuss those ways which affect trans women exclusively.

    Can you imagine a feminism that does not address the ways in which society mistreats women via sexuality and sexual desire? Can you imagine a feminism that skirts around the ways in which common negative social images and hateful assumptions around our bodies impact our lives? Can you imagine a feminism that leaves misogynist assumptions in sexual desire unaddressed?

    I’m sorry, but a feminism that limits its explorations to those issues of concern to cis women and ignores the ways in which analogous social forces affect trans women is a feminism that is distorted by social exclusion. This sends a clear message that trans women’s concerns simply do not matter as much, and that the attendant discomfort incurred by challenging cis people’s unconscious prejudices is too harsh a price to pay for full inclusiveness.

    I would think that these patterns are ones we are actively working to rectify as opposed to embracing as a matter of comfort and convenience.

    But of course, we can’t do that because it’s just different when we talk about issues of sexuality and desire for trans women. Social exclusion almost always carries a logical sounding rationalization when it is duscussed in progressive circles. We have better arguments than those who respond from gut prejudice, but we still act upon our prejudices–we’re just more skilled at making excuses.

  • http://feministing.com/members/gainesyface/ Gaines

    Thank you, Jos!

    I’m another trans male voice weighing in here, and unlike other trans male commenters I don’t feel as though this piece was trying to speak for me but rather at queer women’s community that I am often pursued from.

    I actually feel much more spoken for by multiple queer women and trans male voices in this thread that have made it seem like trans men are universally have a sensitive feminist perspective. My trans male experience has actually included a lot of misogyny- both spouted/acted out by myself and that I didn’t question or check from trans men around me. Yes, I am a queer feminist man and an active anti-sexist but I’m not perfect and I’ve seen free passes get handed out to me about my dudely behaviors because I’m a dapper, cute, identifiably trans guy, and I’ve taken those free passes. It’s been the critical queers in my life that didn’t give out free passes that have led me to a feminist perspective, not some supposedly female socialization or experience. If you think my history includes being perceived as a woman, you are wrong.

    It irks me to no end that a large percentage of my matches on okcupid have a line about primarily being attracted to butches, genderqueers, and trans men. Yes, I am butch, but it’s an intentional gender and not a side effect of my transmasculinity, and if you think our social reality as trans male/cis woman dates or partners is the same as any other FAAB persyn/cis woman pairing you are quite wrong. I have dated plenty of folks with that orientation- after all at the end of the day it’s about mutual respect, chemistry, and circumstance, but as I’ve come into consciousness about this dynamic I’ve tried to have critical conversations about it with my dates.

    The way I see it here, Jos isn’t calling on people not to be attracted to “women and trans men” but rather to acknowledge that dating or seeking to date “women and trans men” is framing those people within a messed up social power dynamic that essentializes their experiences, bodies, and the way they move through the world.

    PS- this comment thread has included a lot of lumping trans men into the category of “people with vaginas” or “people without penises,” both/either of which may be true in many cases but is so transparently transphobic I don’t feel the need to parse it out.

  • http://feministing.com/members/eve402/ Evelyn

    I’m just not sure why people here seem to think desire is above or beyond critique.

    Nobody I’ve seen has said one MUST be sexually available in a politically perfect way. A person’s sexuality is their own and they do not owe anybody sex. But it’s willful ignorance to claim that because you have a right to choose your partners you are also immune to critique of those decisions. As someone remarked above, it’s obvious to us that when someone’s sexuality has fatphobic elements that that’s not something that’s just fine, and we all know we can say “that’s not cool” without also saying “YOU MUST HAVE SEX WITH PEOPLE OF SIZE!” One can ask for self-analysis without demanding immediate and unconditional capitulation, after all.

    This is hard to articulate in a way that I’m totally happy with, but there’s an elephant in the room that I think we’re avoiding here: heterosexual trans men (or more generally, trans men who want to date women) aren’t the ones who are getting the short end of the stick from queer cis women. Trans women are the ones disproportionately getting left out in the cold here. I appreciate the argument that trans men end up de-/re-/mis-gendered in these phenomena, but experientially that’s a choice that gets made. It’s shitty that it must be made but as some have pointed out, if it’s a tradeoff these people are willing to make, well, it may be a systemic problem but it’s poor form to make other people’s sexual decisions for them.

    Though I no longer ID as a trans woman, when I did, I was in the dating pool, and I was not offered that choice of accepting a compromised identity for the sake of a relationship–not with queer women OR gay men. Though this is obviously anecdotal (though my n>30) the overwhelming testimony for other trans feminine people I know corroborate this state of affairs.

    This whole situation sucks, but I think we’re ignoring the fact that there’s a substantial power differential here, and that even though nobody’s got an ideal lot, there’s one group that, within this context, is definitely dragging behind, and as a trans feminine activist I find the reticence to engage with that really, really frustrating.

  • http://feministing.com/members/havlova/ Havlová

    I use a lot of different words at different times to identify myself, my gender, and my sexuality. Sometimes I use queer, or gay, or lesbian, or androgynous, or femme, or gender-non-conforming. I usually identify as cisgendered, as I am mostly comfortable living as and being perceived as the gender commonly associated with the sex I was assigned at birth.

    I am in a relationship with a man who is trans. I thought that I would never be in a relationship with a man, as I am very attracted to people on the feminine side of the spectrum, but it happened. I know he is a man, and he knows that I sometimes identify as lesbian. We’re cool with it. I can relate to him because he was raised as a girl, once identified as a lesbian, has experienced gender oppression, and continues to identify with the queer community. A cis man could not share all these traits, and I suspect I will not ever feel much desire for a cis man for these reasons. I have no reason, however, to leave trans women out of my scope of desire!

    It seems as though the poster and some commentors have experienced trans-misogyny in FAAB queer communities. I don’t doubt it and your personal experiences indicate troubling attitudes that continue to divide what I like to call the “rainbow family”. This hasn’t been my personal experience, however. I have, by luck or pluck, been part of queer communities who have shown remarkable inclusivity, of trans women, trans men, QPOC, PWD, people overcoming addiction, people from poor and working class backgrounds, etc. They are out there, and more communities like this must grow and spread.

    I feel some FAAB communities are separated from MAAB communities. I’ve observed the Rainbow Family fractured along class lines, race lines, sex assigned at birth, and gender. Women who are trans and come up in a gay male scene may rarely ever have contact with scenes of queer cis women and trans men, and vice versa. Many people who are FAAB may have met plenty of trans people who are men, yet zero trans people who are women.

    Trans oppression combined with transmisogyny is literally a deadly combination. If the woman is poor, if she is of color, her marginalization from all aspects of society is crushing. It is only right to ask the rest of the Rainbow Family to assess their own privileges, assumptions, and prejudices and learn to welcome our trans sisters completely. We must be fierce and unflinching allies in every aspect of our lives.

  • http://feministing.com/members/lliana/ lliana

    I guess I thought, ‘I date women and transmen’ was a pretty accurate description of the limits of my sexual attraction to others. I do see that it is say erasure of transwoman, and trans lesbian identities. Then you talk about the doctor designated gender and actual gender and talk about the divide.

    I am attracted to gender queers in general and other lesbians, bisexuals, of all varieties.

    I am including women, as women…people who identify themselves as women. tranmen vs. cysman – yes.

    Woman as all people who identify as women. These are the people who I find myself attracted to.

    I look forward to comments.
    Thanks,
    Lliana

  • http://feministing.com/members/dlolai/ DLolai

    My partner just blogged a response to this article. Please take a look at it. Thanks! http://empowerforpeace.blogspot.com/2012/07/response-to-feministings-enough-with-i.html

  • http://feministing.com/members/alysia/ Alysia Angel

    l I have read this about 15 times and I too had some defensive moments, which usually means that ego is bloating and introspection is needed. I also keep wanting to respond but I don’t have the same language around gender theory.

    Admittedly, I am more of a “chain myself to an abortion clinic” type in the world of activism, and less of a cerebral thinker. I am also one of the people in the world who says that I date women (all hot and smart women whether cis or trans) and trans guys because yes, I have multiple trauma from white cisgender men and yes I hate the stench of their privilege which absolutely repels me. I am nearly 40 and have yet to meet a cisgender man who makes me get the chemicals DOWN THERE. Does this mean I am not radical, not enlightened? No. It just means this is who and what I am attracted to. I don’t want anyone telling me what I can and cannot to with my own personal sexual preference and at the same time want anyone to feel as queer or not queer as they want standing under their own definition umbrella. Honestly, part of being radical feminist is to think for yourself, doing the work, being aware, being brave, being humble, and ultimately, making your OWN decisions.

    Also, this is amazing: A lot of that trauma gets easily linked to genitals, but this isn’t about bodies, it’s about patriarchy.

    BOOM. Exactly.

  • http://feministing.com/members/anders83/ ferris

    This is more based on ideology, than labels that describes a sect of people. Here there is only man, and woman, the distance the trans community wishes to expand upon this basic existence. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are generic ideas of one clearly defined medium, opposite, and same sex dating. It’s simple and non-expansive. When you begin to dissect to add differing variables of the ideas of both, it transforms into another separate ideology. To choose to become a man, is a differing process and psychology that should not be considered queer. The goals surrounding their choice are what makes process of change queer or not. If you decide to undergo the entire trans process, in full you should still be considered trans man or woman, but categorized with others of your new gender. Therefore if a trans-man engages in a relationship with a woman, trans or not, it should labeled heterosexual, vice versa. It all comes back to man and woman, defined, homosexuality and heterosexuality defined and respecting those definitions. Going through the trans process should not be an distinctively or immediately labeled queer.

  • http://feministing.com/members/hidon/ Leigh

    I see some comments in support of Jos’ article stating that “no one is arguing for the sexual availability of others.” However, Jos linked to a video in which she explicitly complained about “The Cotton Ceiling,” a term coined by trans woman activist Drew DeVaux. “The Cotton Ceiling” is a clever little play on words that borrows from “the glass ceiling” concept and explains how many trans lesbians can’t “break through” to sex with cis lesbians. I’m not transphobic. I’m not radscum. But I am a feminist and yeah, the very concept of having the reevaluation of my identity as a lesbian and the availability of my body owed to someone with male genitalia does set off feminist alarm bells for me. The language of “The Cotton Ceiling,” I think, is undeniably problematic because I think all feminists feel we should break through the glass ceiling of employment, so the language of DeVaux’s phrase implies that trans women should be able to break through the “cotton” panties of cis lesbians. I won’t apologize for thinking that language and that attitude are extremely problematic.

    I do believe trans women are women, without qualification. I would not sleep with a trans man because they are men just as I would not sleep with a cis man. I would certainly entertain the idea of dating a post-op trans woman who is not readable as trans because I’m attracted to women and female-bodied attributes. However, as a lesbian, I find it bizarre that I have to explain and apologize for not wanting to interact with a penis in my bed.

    Not everything in life is a Gender Workshop 101 Exercise. For a lot of people, straight, gay, trans, cis, genitalia matters when choosing sexual partners. Period.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ejhuns/ Evan

    I tend to tell people that “I usually don’t date cisgender men” and leave it at that. I know that leaves out the transmisogyny bit, which is intentional on my part (and practical, since I DO date all kinds of women) but is there still a problem there? To me, it has more to do with the more privileged mindset that cismen tend to have than any kind of plumbing issue, but I’m not going to lie and say there isn’t a physical component to it.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ragingmydesire/ j

    I date women and transmen and I will not be shamed for the language I use to vocalize my desire. What does it mean to ‘date’ someone? For me- it means I share, love, trust, and advocate for that person. I take issue with the author’s attempt to align my dating preferences, my desire, my needs- with cissexism. Their argument reinforces the gender binary by assuming the people who love ‘women and transmen’ are somehow viewing transmen as women. It vanishes our queerness and sexual fluidity by focusing on ‘sex’ instead of identity. I feel like we are back peddling to a place we should have left a long time ago.

    The author doesn’t want us to “process [our] sexual trauma in a delegitimizing way through the bodies of folks who’ve often faced tons of trauma at the intersection of gender and sexuality.” I find it reckless and damaging to speak of personal trauma in this way. It is truly sad for all of us who have suffered in any way and attacking each other like this is NOT helpful. This trauma pissing contest is stunting our growth as a community. Constructing a hierarchy of abuse where gender/sexuality trauma somehow trumps sexual violence is just insanity.

    To attack the language we use to express our desire is hurtful and politically useless. I date women and transmen and I fiercely reject cissexism as well as anyone who tries to muzzle me.

  • http://feministing.com/members/deen/ Deen

    The response to this post makes me sad. There is lack of kindness in many of the responses. I am a transgender man and I cannot claim to speak for all transgender men, but I will take a few moments to speak for myself.

    I am attracted to men and to women and to people in between. But I’m picky. I’m not attracted to all men… who is? I have a few “types” — the people who would turn my head if I passed them on the street — and since I don’t know what their genitals look like, I assume that it’s something about their cuteness, their smile, their swagger, their laugh that gets my attention. But when I met my partner more than twelve years ago, my type was older, shorter than me, dark-haired women. My partner is younger, taller, with light colored hair. Thankfully I let my heart do the courting and not my brain. I would have missed out on the love of my life.

    I would very disturbed if someone was attracted to me just because of my history of oppression or trauma. Is my sadness more important to you than my joy? My partner is smart and funny and passionate and blah, blah, blah… Do you want to know why I’m in love with her? I have no idea. It’s because on a level that is deeper than anything my brain can conceive of, she moves me. Because the sound of her laughing is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. It’s because something in her opens something in me, and I don’t understand it because it’s not something that’s about understanding.

    I don’t love her “because her genitals look a certain way.” I think that would be a rather conditional way to love someone.

    I’m struck my by how little Love has factored into this conversation.

    If someone asks, I would say I’m queer. But if someone said, “Hey, Deen, it seems like you’re never attracted to (for example) cisgendered women, what do you think that’s about?” What if instead of defending myself and attacking the other person, I saw it as an invitation? What an opportunity for me to examine myself and look within! What an opportunity to discover more about my heart and inner workings! What an opportunity to learn to love myself a little deeper not for who I want to be, but for who I am right now.

    A little kindness, my friends, for each other and especially for ourselves.