Fannie Fierce

Observations on Trans Sexuality!

Filed By Fannie Fierce | June 27, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay men, lesbians, transfolk, transmen, transwomen

Hey Fannie,

I'm a 27 year old gay man, and I've been getting more involved with activism, especially trans-activism. I've noticed that a lot of lesbians date trans-men, but it doesn't seem to work the other way around. Why don't I see more gay men date trans-women? In fact, now that I think about it, I think I've only ever heard of trans people dating other queer people is when trans-men date lesbians. Why is this? Am I just ridiculously out of the loop?

Trying to Understand

Dear Trying,

First off, good for you sticking up for our trans siblings! We need more "conventional" homos to get behind supporting rights for our entire community and stop cutting out the T when the going gets tough.

Your question is one of those that I can't really answer. I'm not a sociologist and there aren't really studies out there on this kind of topic. So... I can only speculate. And since I'm going to enter the realm of hypothetical, I first want to say that I am far from an expert on the trans experience, so I welcome the input of my trans siblings out there to speak their minds.

The first thing that comes to mind is a book I read by the brilliant Julia Serano, "Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity." In it, Serano talks about many of the struggles Trans people and transwomen in particular face. One thing that I found interesting in her writing was how she felt feminism failed transwomen.

Serano talks about how femininity as a set of traits and behaviors associated with female people (i.e. emotional, caring, cooperative, etc.) have been systematically devalued without regard to what kind of bodies are performing or embodying them. So basically, whether it's a cissexual woman subscribing to traditional gender performance, a transsexual woman acting "hyperfeminine" (as frequently accused of by feminists), or femme nelly bottoms getting their queen on; any performance of femininity is seen as an affectation, a falsehood, and a weakness.

Conversely, masculinity, to varying degrees is on the whole elevated and rewarded. Being rational, level-headed, strong, and opinionated are all traits that we see as being desirable and natural.

So it makes sense to see transmen, who are marked by masculinity and therefore marked for success, achieve greater amounts of success in relationships with people, queer or otherwise. And similarly this may explain for the trend we see in transwomen not being considered desirable romantic partners by gay men. Especially since gay male culture is so addicted to testosterone, gay men practically worship the ideals of masculinity. Don't believe me? Walk a beautiful, lithe, muscular man in front of a bunch of queens and watch the conversation suddenly halt as they gawk.

It isn't only transwomen who feel the brunt of this war on the femmes. Take a look at any gay social networking site (and I use the term "social networking" lightly) and you'll find sexism plastered all over the place. "No femmes, no fats, no asians." (We'll get into the "asian" bit in another post... I have far too much to say about sexual racism than what can fit here)

Serano described a similar trend in her experience in the trans community. She found that transwomen, especially those that subscribed to traditional feminine gender performance were often scorned by the trans and genderqueer community, even though transmen often exhibited traditional masculine gender performance. She calls this valuing of subversive gender performance over that of conventional gender performance as subversivism.

So, a long story short, Trying. I don't know why we don't know more transwomen who date gay men. I'm sure they're out there. There are plenty of hypotheses out there why this seems to be the way things play out, but the fact of the matter is that no one really knows and we should focus on keeping our minds open and broadening our horizons, social, romantic, and sexual.

Again, I invite those with much more expertise and experience with trans folk to weigh in on the conversation.

Fiercely,
Fannie

send your questions in to fannie@bilerico.com


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Fannie,
There is another part that was not brought up. Transsexual women are trying to get rid of the very parts that some gay men enjoy on their partners. They are not about to date anyone who wants to focus on that area of the body, since some don't even want to touch that area themselves.

There is another group of men who don't consider themselves "gay", but they like dating pre-op trans women because of their "special body parts." (Go figure.) These are the "trans fans," or "trannie chasers." For some straight and bisexual trans women, the attention of these men can be exilerating, as it was for me in my early days. However, as time went on, I realized that they only wanted one thing, and I really found women more attractive.

The trans men's apparent success in the lesbian world stems a great deal from the fact that they started off with that life and it helped them grow to understand themselves better when it came to sexual attraction. White trans women, for the most part, come from the straight world, so adjusting to the fact that we are now thrusted into minority status, it is a real shock. Some respond by avoiding anything associated with the LGBT community, especially gay men.

You are right, there are couples where one is a gay man and the other is a trans woman. Love trumps body parts, or lack there of. It was how my last girlfriend and I felt about all of this.

But, the toughest issue is for transsexual women finding love in the lesbian community. Many have a tendency to dismiss us, even if they have no idea of our surgical status. They seem to avoid us to steer clear of preceived "male energy," yet trans men are trying to absorb more male energy. Seems to be a bit bass-ackwards if you ask me.

In the trans community, you'll find sexuality all over the map, and there's no hard and fast rule. It's far from the binary of gay or straight. You'll find straight transmen, gay transmen, transmen who pairbond to transwomen (and vice versa), transmen with othe transmen, transwomen attracted to other transwomen, transwomen attracted to gay men, transwomen to straight or bi men (or "trannie chasers"), transwomen who stay married to their wives post transition, transmen who stay married to their husbands after transition, and transpeople of both genders and inbetween who are completely asexual. That's all before we discuss crossdressers, who might well be completely married and straight until they put on their lipstick and heels, then become ho's (literally). If you're looking for sexual diversity, you've come (no pun intended) to the right letter of the GLBTQIQwhateverelsewe'reincludingthisweek community.

FWIW, it wasn't part of Norah Vincent's flawed-but-still-definitely-worth-reading book, "Self-Made Man" (about her 18 months spent posing as a man). But in interviews she mentioned that ask part of her research for the chapter on dating, she not only tried dating women (Vincent is butch-ish lesbian). Interestingly, the many of the hetero woman were still interested in dating her rule after she revealed she wasn't a man (Vincent had a rule that she'd out herself after a date or two). In contrast, the gay men she went out with immediately dropped her.

And yeah, I'm sure some of that is tied to what seems to widespread sissyphobia among gay men. (See Tim Bergling and Joe Phillips book of the same title.)

FWIW, I think some of the fetishization of trans men in lesbian circles has a nasty under-current, i.e. they're seen as deliciously masculine, without being, well...you know...men.

Gerri Ladene | June 27, 2008 6:12 PM

Just a little observation here! There are considerable advantages of coming out as FtM as opposed to MtF, one being that is more socially acceptable to see a woman in mens clothing than it is for a perceived male to be dressed in womens clothing! This has come about by womens and feminist rights struggles in our society. The other face of the coin here is the lack of this same need for change in the male expression, we are programmed from the start to perceive males in society as privileged by their gender and to act accordingly by a rigid set of rules put in place from birth when the doctor proclaims it’s a boy/girl. While females are trained to nurture, support and be submissive from the beginning males are taught to dominate and control their environment applying that even to sex.

There is much historical evidence of this separation of genders which has been influenced by the forces of history back to the formation of the Roman Emperors Church and its influence on societies since! But, that’s getting away from the current question and I’ve had to deal with ADD and Dyslexia my entire life so understand that it is extremely hard for me to stay focused for any amount of time.

Transmen usually start off in a lesbian lifestyle to begin with, this is a great safety net for them being that they have the opportunity to have a woman as a partner while being butch/male in their own expression. The same goes for some Transwomen but not as much, some find comfort by becoming part of the gay male community in order to have a male partner and be treated as fem'me but both of these examples can change with transition. Though it’s not always the case since some FtM’s identify later in life just as MtF’s and have been in a hetero relationship already. Thus explaining why FtM’s can go into a gay male relationship just as well as an MtF can go into a lesbian based relationship. Later transitioning Tran’s people can become more Bi-sexual in their own perception during and after transitioning, clearly the time of exposure to not living as ones mental gender dictates has its consequences! Some may consider that a plus (; …

So, getting down to it and back to the Question that started Fannie’s article! When it comes to Gay or Lesbian, sexual orientation rules and this applies to who their preferred partner/s will be. Gay males have a clear view as to their male to male attraction just as gay females have in their own perception of female to female. So how do Trans view sexual orientation? For young Trans it can be experimental but usually tend to go toward opposite sex attraction, that is opposite of their mental gender identity. With Trans who come into their own later in life, for countless reasons mostly based on lack of family acceptance from the start and denial which is experienced by gay and lesbian too, the possibilities can be any course they choose. A great deal of this comes from previous learned gender roles to the formation of a new role though transition by becoming ones mental gender. It’s the thinking outside of society’s set perceptions and becoming aware of the real potential that exists for sexual partner combination's and that sexual orientation can be very fluid to a mind that experiences both sides of gender! For Trans the possibilities are only limited by Imagination.

This is of course my view and I do tend to be a little lucid in my own thoughts on what is considered reality! Imagine that! I do hope haven't said anything here to offend anyone since I do have this tendency to run off at the mouth sometimes.

FWIW, it wasn't part of Norah Vincent's flawed-but-still-definitely-worth-reading book, "Self-Made Man" (about her 18 months spent posing as a man). But in interviews she mentioned that ask part of her research for the chapter on dating, she not only tried dating women (Vincent is butch-ish lesbian). Interestingly, the many of the hetero woman were still interested in dating her rule after she revealed she wasn't a man (Vincent had a rule that she'd out herself after a date or two). In contrast, the gay men she went out with immediately dropped her.

And yeah, I'm sure some of that is tied to what seems to widespread sissyphobia among gay men. (See Tim Bergling and Joe Phillips book of the same title.)

FWIW, I think some of the fetishization of trans men in lesbian circles has a nasty under-current, i.e. they're seen as deliciously masculine, without being, well...you know...men.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 27, 2008 8:25 PM

I've long felt that people who date us trannies tend to transcend simplistic labels, including gay, straight, etc.

But here's my quick 2 cents worth: men, in general, seem to be MUCH more hardwired into what turns them on sexually. Whether this is due to nature or nurture or both is another discussion. But gay guys who date FtMs, in my experience, are the exception rather than the rule because, as Monica points out, most gay men are fixated on dicks in the same way they are invested in their identities as "tops," "bottoms," "bears," "size-queens," etc. They are much less likely to deviate or experiment from what they know they like.

Women, on the other hand, seem much more flexible when it comes to sexual arousal and more inclined to link sex with love.

I'm planning to blog soon on my dating experiences--or lack thereof--since I transitioned.

This will sound trite, but I think the reason why gay men tend not to date women, trans or otherwise, is that they're, you know, gay. Attracted to men, not women.

In a nutshell, Zoe's kind of right. Gay men tend to be attracted to masculinity. There's some wiggle room, and I'm generalizing of course, but there can be some pretty visible differences between even effeminate male and female bodies -- and men tend to be very visibility-driven. We become, in a way, everything that turns them off.

Lesbians, on the other hand, have courted variant gender expression for so long that it is easier for them (again, in general) to see past "femininity" and "masculinity." That is not to say that a majority of lesbians accept or are potentially attracted to FTMs -- in fact some of them can react quite negatively once the reality of a person's transition sets in (i.e. after mastectomy, body hair growth, phallo or meta). Earlier FTMs had often experienced being "excommunicated as traitors." However, the lesbian community has learned, and many have softened their views and appreciation for both FTMs and MTFs.

Monica points out trans admirers. I think it's unfair to consider them gay, although they're not really straight either. They're probably something closer to bisexual (again generally speaking), in an unusually specific manifestation. Or else something else unique entirely. Trans admirers do not have a community of their own at this point in time, have few resources to develop understanding (other than Renee Reyes' guide, tsgirlfriend.com and possibly alt.com), and certainly haven't defined themselves yet. It's an unexplored frontier. Which may even be the attraction, for some of them.

Nerissa Belcher | June 28, 2008 4:36 AM

Tranwomen have two problems which make it likely that even if we prefer dating men we'll end up with women.

First, most of us are unattractive according to the current cultural ideal of feminine beauty. Sure there are the amazing exceptions we see in the media but these transwomen have no problem finding men to date. For the rest of us the male dating pool is pretty shallow. Meanwhile there are plenty of women to date. This includes a surprising number of "straight" and bi women who are comfortable with transwomen due to these women having a skill few men are willing to display. Romance! That being my next point.

Second, the easiest person on the planet to get into a bedroom by a male is a crossdresser out on the night away from their wife. Men who like transwomen don't have to bother with romance. Why should they? Meanwhile full time transwomen like romance as much as the next woman. So we often go with a less thrilling sexual love life with a woman that includes romance vs. having better sex with men that otherwise reject us.

from my own perspective as a trans woman attracted to men,i like men who are attracted to - and aroused - by me. since i no longer carry around "something extra", i have never experienced attraction from males who are interested in that appendage - gay men.

men who are confident and self assured are a turn on for me. if they are fixated on my past identity or the perception that i am a sexual oddity it is a turn off. i like men who just like me for being me. go figure.

for an ironic twist, i have also experienced strong personal attraction to "butch" lesbians and trans men who were confident, self assured, and comfortable with themselves...and with me. but i wouldn't know how to be sexually involved - no weenie. ces't la vie.

personal attraction and sexual attraction are both complicated processes, and cannot be explained away simply by gender or genitals. be honest and be yourself, and look for someone who is comfortable being themselves. trust your instincts. if the attraction is there you won't be disappointed.

personal attraction and sexual attraction are both complicated processes, and cannot be explained away simply by gender or genitals. be honest and be yourself, and look for someone who is comfortable being themselves. trust your instincts. if the attraction is there you won't be disappointed. (comment 10)

Jeri: I am in complete agreement with this statement. Finding a loving lasting relationship was more of an issue than any other as a transwoman that I faced. I am really not seeking pity, but I have lived most of my 70 years in isolation without loving or being loved.

In those 70 years, I found one person who I met, loved, and lost. That was another transwoman.

Genuine love transcends gender, genitals and sexual orientation. When love comes, the rest is immaterial, and love simply exists.

It strikes when we least expect it, and when we meet a person we consider to be our soul mate, we know it.

I don't know which is worse - living with someone who isn't our soul mate or living in isolation.

The relationship issues faced by transpersons are very much complicated ones, and there aren't easy answers. We take on so much negativity just to be self-protective over the years, that it becomes difficult to attract and keep a special person when that person enters our lives. And the frustration and isolation is self-perpetuating.

It's good that this is being discussed here.

Speaking from personal experience, I was in a relationship with a gay man for a couple of years during my transition. He treated me as woman, and was always careful to use preferred pronouns publicly, etc. Ultimately though, he came to the realization that he needed to be with another man, not a pre-op transwoman. He'd had a long struggle to accept himself as a gay man, and to proudly identify as such. So it was difficult for him to be perceived as being in a het relationship.

I think what is being asked here is the wrong question. Why don't more gay men date trans women? Um, because gay men define their sexuality in attraction to men. The real question is why then do so many lesbians, who define their sexuality in attraction women, date trans men.

Okay, first off, sexuality is a lot more fluid than that. But how many gay men do you know that are in relationships with women? Now divide that number by 100 (or 1000 depending on your statistics) and tell me if it's statistically likely that one of those women is trans.

The only reason why the answer to this isn't automatically obvious is because of the idea that trans women are somehow more like men (and trans men more like women) -- a pervasively transphobic perspective. Bringing that forward, the much more pressing questions to ask are, why don't more gay men date trans men? And why don't more lesbians date trans women? And while you could write a book on the details and history behind those questions the quick answer is simple: transphobia.

Getting a little off-track... sometimes I think FtoMs should be illegal.

No Man should be permitted to know that much about female anatomy. It gives them an unfair advantage when they know *exactly* what to do to you, for hours on end.

Er, I mean, so I'm told.

I take issue with Serrano's statements about feminism. I grew up and studied an entirely different cast of Second Wave feminism than she is or most Americans are familiar with.

Luce Irigaray, perhaps my favourite, argued for a uniquely "feminine voice" in writing and in action. Mary Daly attempts to acheive this, particularly in Amazon Grace, but I think that it was precisely the cherishing and empowerment of feminine thought, feminine nurturing that Irigaray is advocating.

As I have learned in my years here in the States, this is a less common view and frequently not the Second Wave Feminism that I see in most Lesbians in my age group.

Still, it is not unique to me; further the Third Wave and deconstruction has numerous advocates as well....

Maura,

As a passionate Gender Studies nerd and die-hard feminist, I understand why you might take issue with Serano's opinions on feminism, but I assure you, she has MORE than enough reason for giving feminists the tongue lashing that they well deserve.

I'm a huge fan of Luce Irigaray (and I might add... pretty standard in terms of the American Feminist reader). But you cite Mary Daly in trying to defend feminism from accusations of transphobia?! She is one of the most outlandish offenders! In Daly's book "Gyn/Ecology" she describes transsexuality as a "male problem" and goes as far as describing transwomen as "Frankensteinian" and as having a "contrived and artificial condition."

On TOP of that she served as the advisor and mentor to Janice Raymond, who wrote the vilest of transphobic books "The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-male." Raymond says this:

All transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves .... Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive. (Raymond, 104)

Sure, Feminist in the third wave (and this hypothetical fourth wave, which seems to be as elusive as a unicorn) have made leaps and bounds in terms of being inclusive of women's experiences along racial, ethnic, and sexual, and trans experiences. But they have a LONG way to go. Feminists are horrified to consider the implications of gender and how it is affected by biochemistry. Trans folk have first hand experience with how gendered traits like being emotional are effected by a body's biochemical makeup. A lot of feminists don't like that and very openly take out their frustrations at their inability to reconcile these ideas onto trans men and trans women.

Now, as a feminist, I think we need to come together and apologize for the wrongs of the past and demonstrate that we are truly allies for the present and future.

This is so awesome. You GO Fannie.

Re: gay men and FTMs - um, have any gay men out there SEEN Buck Angel? I mean, holy crap.

Also, I wonder why there aren't more straight/bi-defining women who date MTFs. Seriously. Someone needs to get the word out...

Re Mary Daly - I'll quote the whole exchange so I can't be accused of taking things out of context:

WIE: Which brings us to another question I wanted to ask you. Sally Miller Gearhart, in her article "The Future—If There Is One—Is Female" writes: "At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we were to create and preserve a less violent world. 1) Every culture must begin to affirm the female future. 2) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. 3) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately ten percent of the human race." What do you think about this statement?

MD: I think it's not a bad idea at all. If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.

People are, indeed, afraid to say stuff like that any more. Because it makes them look like Nazis, and that's no longer acceptable.

Her entire works can be boiled down to "Women Good, Men Bad". Substitute the tokens "Jew" for "Man" and "Aryan" for "Woman", and it would be mainstream in 1930's Germany. In fact, you could take anything from Die Sturmer, talking about life-giving "Aryan Essence" being superior to necrotic "Jewish Essence", substitute "Feminine" and "Masculine" respectively, and get a work that would be published to the same critical acclaim.

Oh, and why don't straight women (trans or otherwise) date more MtoFs? Because they're straight. Attracted to men, not women.

As someone who's IS, I of all people should know that "Male" and "Female" are not sharp binary categories, with everyone neatly fitting into one or the other, not both. Nonetheless, they remain useful approximations, and the "neat binary" accounts for 90%+ of the population.

Fanny,
In modern feminism there are exactly two smallish groups who even know who Janice Raymond is.....transwomen and the leftover radical lesbian separatists. Ask almost any other feminist woman about Raymond and you get a blank look.

And to be fair......the first half of Raymond's book was downright brilliant! She accurately and precisely dissects the entire "girl factory" nature of the early psych professionals and gender programs of the time. It is only when she takes an abrupt left turn in the chapter on Olivia Records and Sandy Stone specifically that she loses it...and that is also apparent because all of her material up to that point could and should have gone the other way having demonstrated the patriarchal oppression was a common experience.

Sometimes I wonder if those who have knee jerk reactions to Raymond ever actually read her book.

As an aside on Mary Daly, in a private conversation she later admitted that a very large percentage of the radical lesbian separatists of her generation later transitioned to male.....food for thought.

On the original point of your piece.

Transsexual women are women......why would a heterosexual woman date a gay man? Why especially would she date someone who's attraction to her is based on denial she IS a woman? This should be a "duh!"

There are a number of FtMs who are gay male identified and they do date gay men. I even know a couple of couples who married like this.

It is NOT about sexual orientation, it's about gender identity.

Cathryn,

Thanks for contextualizing the conversation a little bit. I agree with you that bringing up Raymond is a bit left field in terms of mainstream feminism (as it should be), but when I was doing research on trans folk writing about themselves (where beforehand they were only written about... by doctors, psychiatrists, religious folk, feminists, sociologists, etc.), I found trans writers frequently citing Raymond as one of the worst offenders in the feminist camp. So while Raymond might be influential in a specific group of feminists, it's also a group that a lot of trans folk seem to find themselves in.

But you're right, Daly and Raymond have definitely contributed many positive things to feminism, and to wholly disregard their work because of a portion of what they have said is reprehensible would be unfortunate. But to completely ignore the very real anti-trans offenses would be equally unfortunate. In addition, I was trying to illustrate that feminism has absolutely wronged trans folk, especially trans women. And it wasn't just Daly and Raymond, or a small contingent of radical feminists who did the wronging.

There have been many experiences of anti-trans behavior which have systematically excluded trans women from participating in feminist activities and support networks. For example, the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, until recently, had a long standing "womyn born womyn" attendance policy which resulted in the forcible ejection of transwomen. Other feminist groups refused to allow trans women into their "safe spaces" because they cited the trans women's "male energy" and risk of sexual assault. Many women's educational institutions, like Smith College and Mount Holyoke maintain the "born women" criteria for admission (which is quite ironic, considering how Irigaray, one of the founders of feminism is perhaps most famous for declaring that "No one is born a woman.")

I'm not trying to say that all things feminist are bad, I mean, I consider myself a feminist, after all. But the first stage in reconciliation is asking for amends. Feminists need to seek forgiveness from their trans siblings and proactively include them in the future.

Also, to respond to the "duh" comment: Sexuality is never a "duh." It is extremely complex, fluid, and at times counterintuitive. The question to which I responded was specifically: Why don't gay men date trans women, when many lesbians date trans men? It, theoretically, is the same scenario. The gay or lesbian person dating a person of "the opposite gender." I could just as easily turn your question around and ask why would a heterosexual man date someone who's attraction to him is based on the denial that he IS a man. But clearly, what's going on here isn't nearly that simple.

Something is happening that enables these lesbians to look beyond the gender of their partner and find that they're in love with a man. And the question that naturally follows is that why don't we see the same thing happening with gay men, where they are able to look into the eyes of a trans woman and see past any notion of gender and be in love with that person.

And, I'm not saying it doesn't happen. It absolutely does, but not nearly to the same capacity that we see with lesbians and trans men.

So, Cathryn, it's about sexual orientation AND gender identity. Personally, I think that lesbians have been dealing with gender issues much more than gay men have, partially because as women they more often come into conflict with it. So, they might be more open to a variety of gender performances from prospective partners. I wish more gay men would follow suite. The best sexual experience I ever had was with a lesbian. And yes I knew she was a gay woman and that I was a gay man, and no I didn't fuck her, and no she didn't use a strap on. It was refreshingly unheterosexual and distinctly queer.

oops caught a mistake... that whole "no one is born a woman" is actually Simone de Beauvoir. I got my French feminists crossed!

FtMs who date lesbians almost always emerged from the lesbian community and if you do not think there is some major orientation crisis on the part of the lesbian partners of FtMs you simply have not talked to many of them........every thing from questioning basic orientation to loss of community gets mixed together. The same often happens with straight women partnered to transitioning transsexual women from the opposite direction.

Partners are often the totally ignored part of the transsexual equation. That seriously needs to change.

Julia Serano is ONE feminist identified transwoman, she has no lock on any insight beyond her own experiences. I know her book did not speak to me at all. There used to be a lot of us....there was even a magazine, Trans-sisters the Journal of Transsexual Feminism. If you can find copies, read them, they are quite enlightening. Feminism is not a monolithic movement, it is vibrant and very very varied. NOW has been totally trans-woman positive and supportive for a decade yet almost no transwomen are active in it. Why? "Feminism" as a whole owes no more apology to transsexual women than it does to straight women. Raymond trashed transwomen....wah wah, it is long since time transwomen got over that because she is no more "feminism" than Anita Bryant is.....she is one woman who claimed feminist creds because she studied under Daly and she is a forgotten footnote to everyone in the movement. Subsets of feminism have been less than trans positive but many of us have had exactly the opposite experiences......and yes I speak from experience as someone who was surgically assigned male at birth and transitioned later in life but had a lifetime feminist consciousness.

As for the orientation issues, I struggled years to come to a basic understanding of my own orientation before realizing it is male energy I am drawn to. That can be found in very butch women as well as men and in quite a few transwomen. I would never consider a relationship with a transwoman after coming to that realization because at some point it would be a factor in the relationship that dishonoured her identity.

As for Lisa Vogel and the MWMF, I am fairly unique in that I can completely understand where she comes from......it is the completely alpha male acting "transwomen" who most often crash women only spaces and given how loud and pushy they are it becomes impossible to police that in an era of imposed umbrellas of transness. Even though it means my own exclusion, in sisterly solidarity I recognize the right of some women who feel the need to segregate from transwomen as a result. I have had almost identical experiences myself with often the exact same individuals.

Again, more food for thought.

In an era where most people only seem to get sound bite thought, I'll add my own that sums this up.

If you come to women(feminism)as a transsexual why are you surprised they often question you being a woman? If you come to them as a woman, you will find it a quite different experience.

Cathryn,

I appreciate your candor in sharing your experience. I'm glad you brought up the crisis that many lesbians partnered with transitioning partners face. I never meant to imply that lesbians face now struggles getting into relationships with trans men, or trans women for that fact.

I just found it interesting how some feminists saw that the feminist assertion that gender is completely socially constructed began to crumble with the experience of trans folk who have first hand experience with how one's biology informs and affects one gender. I think the hump we have to get over is to accept that our bodies are integral parts of our social identities, but also that our bodies are not given. Flesh is mutable, and the mutability of flesh should not be seen as comprimising of the integrity a body's "truth." I'm not sure if I'm making complete sense here. The reason why I enjoyed Serano's book is because it really helped me wrap my head around that idea. Sure her book isn't perfect... what book is? But I am intrigued by the transsexual feminist journal you spoke of. I readily admit that I have a limited experience with trans folk, and I'd love to learn more. Do you have any suggestions of good reading material of trans feminists? I'm familiar with Patrick Califia, although he's received a lot of heat in recent years. Any ideas?

We still haven't seemed to answer the question on gays and trans women. I still think that gay men should be able to find love with trans women as easily as lesbians are able to (despite obstacles) with trans men. I think something is going on on a sociological level with gay men is all i'm saying.

Relationships between gay men and transsexual women:

FtMs mostly come from the lesbian community, identity issues are negotiated as a result......ie the partner winds up reexamining her own identity along with the FtM Sometimes this succeeds.

MtFs mostly come from outside the gay male community. The few I've known that came from within broke up as a direct result of the transwoman's increasing identity as "woman" and total failure of the gay male community, including the partner, to honour that. The majority of transsexual women are not going to get involved with gay men, those that attempted it pre-transitioned almost universally report it just isn't right.....subjective but true.

Result? it almost is never gonna happen and if it does, it will not last. This all is classic transsexual specific rather than transgender..

Fannie;
Fisrt of all, thank you for sharing your admiration for Professor Irigaray. I studied her writings in school when I was taking my degree and embraced them. I had the pleasure of listening to her speak later in Liverpool.

As far as Dr. Mary Daly; I am most certainly (as a true disciple of the French Feminists) not an admirer of much of her work in the 1970's and early 80's, particularly Gyn/Ecology. It set the tone for the Lesbian Separatist movement which resulted in a sense of superiority and entitlement just as dangerous to the feminine spirit as the patriarchy was.

The net effect was to duplicate the rights, priviledges and attitudes of the patriarchy but "gyn-ifying" them, incorporating them into the psyches of a new, elitist structure that was female.

I cited "Amazon Grace" because Daly addresses this issue, unconsciously repudiating her early work and scolding women for replicating patriarchial ideas based upon a new elitism rather than developing a feminine voice.

The wrting style of Amazon Grace is an attempt to replicate the "escrive feminine" of Irigaray/Couxcous/Kristeva, though floundering in that regard, and if you are familiar with the linear history of the two conceptions of the Second Wave, it presents a near apologia(by scolding others for the outcome of her work), for what the American Separatist movement became.

I am familiar with the American Second wave by personal experience; having had one of the relics of that movement as a partner for a few years and having been roundly excoriated by and having been excluded by her co-antiquities for the crime of having been married twice and coming out too late, thereby indicating that I was "not a real Lesbian."

I have moved on from being a "scond class" rather than "Second wave(european)" Lesbian as my then partner's friends cast me, Mary Daly has grown in her own Mary way from her views in the 1970's and 80's.

As for Dr. Raymond, I never heard of her at all til I entered the realm of LGBT activism, prodded, ironically, by the same partner who was unsure of my Lesbian credentials but very sure of my writing style and bedroom style, enough to want me to speak out. Dr. Raymond's notorious work is unknown on the continent.Professor Irigaray would have found it horribly un-feminine and hugely discordant with the ideal of "Escrive Feminine"

In re: socialisation.
It does play a part. A friend of mine once opined that she became female in six hours on an operating table but spent the next five years afterwards becoming a woman. Her own experience to be sure, but she was disuccing the socialisation aspect from her perspective.