Alex Blaze

The Chris Lee-LGBT Connection

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 27, 2011 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Chris Lee, Congress, LGBT, transgender

Congressman Chris Lee, who was found on Craiglist looking for a little lovin' and then resigned last month, turns out to have been searching for something other than heterosexual, extra-marital, cis-man/cis-woman, missionary position, for-the-purposes-of-procreation-only fun. Read the whole thing at Gawker (h/t Kathy Padilla).

New-York-Congressman-Craigslist-pics.jpgThe revelation that he was seeking "ts/cd" women isn't really all that interesting - love and sexual attraction are complicated especially when we consider the cultural ramifications of various desires. Discussing all this in terms of right and wrong, professional and unprofessional is just silly.

While a representative in a seeking a more accepted relationship could have been expected to stay in office after a presser with his wife, someone like Lee who may question his own heterosexuality was quick to resign.

Which just goes to show that reifying sexual mores will always work against the interests of LGBT people. While some of us think that adding monogamous, long-term same-sex relationships to the buffet of acceptable family configurations will solve all our problems, it won't. So long as some people are labeled "freaks" because of who they are or whom they're attracted to, there will always be queerness even if people stop identifying as queer.

Even though he seems like a standard-issue neo-Randian Republican, I don't think Lee should have resigned for that reason and I don't think that what he did was all that terrible. Posting pics on Craigslist is utterly banal and seeking sex with someone else while married has been going on for millennia - I just don't buy the ridiculous proposition that humans are programmed for monogamy.

But we have a long ways to go before we're a lot more accepting about what our bodies are and what they want, and, until then, people are going to have to act like they're ashamed of just being who they are for the benefit of the rest of us. As always, the irony: Lee himself would probably have done nothing to make the world more accepting for what he wanted to do.


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I have yet to meet an lgbt person who believes that "adding monogamous, long-term same-sex relationships to the buffet of acceptable family configurations will solve all our problems."

How does former Congressman Lee's example show that "reifying sexual mores will always work against the interests of LGBT people?" I don't get it.

On the first paragraph, I didn't want to name names here because I didn't want this post to be about that. I have named names in the past and I guess I'll just leave it at that.

On the second, yeah, that's some sloppy writing on my part. What I meant was that here's a sexual rule (only have sex with your spouse) that works against queerness more than it would against cis/heterosexuality. Not that men who are specifically attracted to trans women are gay. The same rule gets applied differently depending on the genders and gender histories of the people involved.

Which probably doesn't justify an "always" there. :)

Thatsa whole lotta assuming going on there, Alex. How do you know that he wouldn't have quit just as fast had he been looking for totally white bread action?

And ditto what Brad said. And who said anything about freaks? Okay, I'm off to follow the Gawker link.

You're right, that's an assumption. Based on the fact that they usually don't quit (esp. not that fast) when they've gone for "totally white bread action."

But still, there is no parallel universe in which we can see how this would have played out if he had said "I'm looking for cissexual women only" or something like that.

Kathy Padilla | February 27, 2011 7:48 PM

I should know this, but don't: what was Rep. Lee's stance on civil rights for the women he sought out?

We know he's not the only Rep who's been attracted to trans women - we know that there are Reps with trans family members & children. So, it's a bit sad that some people report the story not as an example of his extra- marital relations - but that it's somehow embarrassing that a man would find a trans woman attractive.

I can't find much on his stances on anything LGBT, other than that he voted against DADT repeal. His campaign and congressional websites are down.

it's a bit sad that some people report the story not as an example of his extra- marital relations - but that it's somehow embarrassing that a man would find a trans woman attractive.

That was my thoughts too, Kathy. Does it matter that he wants to have sex with transwomen? BFD.

I don't think it would be an issue if it was only a matter of having an attraction for trans women, or even if the reason for the attraction was pragmatic along the lines of Ben Franklin's rationale for seeking out older women (including common attributes such as their not being able to get pregnant, not likely to pressure him for a marriage, and being less likely to "tell.")

It's more likely that former Rep. Lee's attraction was based on some kind of "kink" such as a desire to be penetrated by a woman - something that could be achieved by a cis woman with a strap-on or a pre-op/non-op trans woman without the need for a strap-on. If Rep. Lee had a domineering and physically abusive mother and developed a need to be humiliated, it could have transposed at puberty to such a need.

It would be something like that, even though it's otherwise harmless, that might be more embarrassing to have had leaked, rather than simply an affinity for trans women.

This is probably why he initially wanted to know which messages the press had their hands on.

Alternative sexual practice or no, the point being made here still applies - it shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter to a political sex scandal whether the women a guy is hooking up with are trans or not. It also shouldn't matter whether a politician wants to penetrate or be penetrated during sex. It also shouldn't matter if a politician engages in consensual humiliation play in a BDSM context (which, by the way, is not "caused" by domineering mothers any more than gayness is).

In the world we live in, all those things do matter, but if you were to remove transphobic, homophobic and sex-negative motivations, you'd be hard pressed to find a reasonable justification for any of those things being worse than "totally white bread action."

And while any socially stigmatized sexual practice *could* have been a part of what's going on, I doubt Rep. Lee was thinking "Oh no, they found out I post on craigslist, I don't care if they find out I have sex with trans women but I better resign before they find out what kind of sex I'm having with them." Having sex with trans women is socially stigmatized enough regardless of what kind of sex is involved.