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  1. bluestockingsrs
    bluestockingsrs May 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    Yep, exactly.

    Thanks, piny.

  2. Raine
    Raine May 8, 2007 at 3:45 pm |

    There’s also this idea that desire is by definition revolutionary, that wanting to fuck an oddity is somehow a break with tradition. Desire for the outsiders is nothing new.

    I don’t know if this is the most important part of everything you said, but its the part that stood out for me. People who have never examined desire, their own and the ‘cultural’ desire, never seem to notice how constructed we are to feel a very specific desire towards the “exotic.” I’d like to think that that type of desire (which is very much a desire for an image rather than a person) fades the more one learns how to think of people as people rather than types.

  3. sophonisba
    sophonisba May 8, 2007 at 5:45 pm |

    I was going to ask (sincerely) how a ‘fetish’ for an entire gender identity category can be readily distinguished from a sexual orientation, when I read this line:

    Trannychasers–and this is just IME–tend to conflate all the transsexuals they meet either with the trannies they’ve already fucked or with an amalgamate everytrannytarget cobbled together from brief conversations and magazine articles.

    and I saw that I had answered my own question; heterosexual male and trannychaser are pretty much interchangeable there. Which is not to suggest that transsexuals don’t encounter more and uglier instances of this kind of thing, not at all. But when I compare the way Margaret Cho looks at a transguy’s crotch and the way a straight guy looks at my tits, I see a difference of degree, but not of kind. Inasmuch as trannychasers are interested in difference qua difference, independent of the individual identity of their object, they are engaged in the most literal kind of heterosexuality.

    This is all very striking, because while ordinarily I would not make this kind of comparison for fear of threadjacking or belittling the real differences between the experiences of transsexuals and non-trans women, I don’t have to make any kind of comparison or transposition at all, between what you write and my own experiences — it’s identical. It also strikes me that being a trannychaser is the closest way, and in fact the only way I can think of, for a non-trans woman to experience this very basic kind of specifically het-male privilege and form of desire. Which is why it is so loathsome, yet so familiar.

  4. Catty
    Catty May 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm |

    Reading this reminds me of people that have racial fetishes, especially the part about the homogeneity. Great post.

  5. Sniper
    Sniper May 8, 2007 at 7:09 pm |

    Interesting. I’ve always like Cho, but here she doesn’t sound much different from those certain kind of men who “just love” Asian women.

  6. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 8, 2007 at 7:22 pm |

    Reading this reminds me of people that have racial fetishes, especially the part about the homogeneity.

    Yep. It’s not hip and cool and enlightened to chase people based on how well they fit into the group you’ve eroticized. It makes you the same as a guy who only dates Asian women because he thinks they’re “naturally submissive.”

  7. pigeon
    pigeon May 8, 2007 at 7:48 pm |

    the whole “best of both worlds” thing really gets under my skin.
    especially when it is put forth as one of the reasons to date my current partner.

    i get real cranky, real fast.

    i know at least one woman though, who partners exclusively with transmen and defines her sexual orientation as such. in her words, “i orient sexually to transmen.” i’ve been trying to put my finger on what makes her & other folks i know who also partner primarily &/or exclusively with transfolks different from trannychasers.

    she’s a writer, so i’ll quote something she wrote about this, to avoid distortion:
    “i have a right to say this, to claim my sexual orientation as legitimate. if i don’t, then how can transmen themselves be legitimate, if i choose them, not in spite of, but precisely because of who they are, where they’ve been, where they’re going, how their scars run, then how can we not call my sexual orientation legitimate?”

    reading her work, and having talked to her, the biggest difference so far as i can tell is the lack of Othering. there’s a respect there that i don’t see with trannychasers. there’s the recognition that the experiences of a transperson will be different than those of a cisgendered person, but that’s all it is– a difference in experience and circumstance, not a difference in being. [“being” is not quite the word that i want, but hopefully you get the gist.]

    i know a number of people in the queer community who excuse trannychasing because it’s “positive attention” but really, Othering is Othering. not to mention being the object of someone’s desire doesn’t seem like such a positive thing to me if you stop being a person in the process. i mean, isn’t that one of our chief complaints about sexism?

  8. Holly
    Holly May 8, 2007 at 8:17 pm |

    OK yeah that is basically what I would have said too so I don’t have anything to add! Thanks, piny. I am right with you on the seriously problematic part having to do with conflating a whole population into this sort of easily-objectified “clump.” But hey, that’s what objectification is, right? Happens all the time to so many people. The “other-ness” is probably the more unusual bit, but… well, yawn.

    Here’s my question for quote that pigeon just posted. The woman who’s writing says she’s attracted to transmen “precisely because of who they are, where they’ve been, where they’re going, how their scars run.”

    OK, so pop quiz. Who are trans men? Where have they been? Where are they going? How do their scars run? That statement kind of presumes knowing the answers to all of these questions. Which is pretty impressive, I don’t even know if I know any trans people who would be able to answer that set of questions in any kind of coherent way. Or maybe, as piny suggests, this woman is attracted to a very specific kind of person — maybe even just a few people, who happen to have some things in common, probably some class background too, some ways of looking at the world, many things that aren’t necessarily connected to being trans — and just generalizing that into “a sexual orientation to trans men.”

    And that is why so many of us find this kind of thing fishy.

  9. twf
    twf May 8, 2007 at 8:53 pm |

    In addition to the links to racial fetishes people have talked about, I also think this is similar to the disabled fetish some people have. I can’t currently find it, but I read a good analysis of a disabled fetish by Tiff Carlson.

    It’s all about the other, the lesser, the nonhuman. Exoticizing, and simultaneously pigeonholing.

  10. Allie
    Allie May 8, 2007 at 8:58 pm |

    The “best of both worlds” thing makes me laugh. I dated a transwoman at the very beginning of her transition, and it was the WORST of both worlds (for her, primarily, but incidentally for me as well)! Maybe it’s different with people who are more settled in their new identies, but all too often my ex was miserable about the whole thing and generally hated her body, which is not sexy to me. Given that she’s currently dating a lesbian, I’m pretty sure that she’s settled in to a much happier way of being that includes very little of one of those worlds…

  11. One Jewish Dyke
    One Jewish Dyke May 8, 2007 at 9:33 pm |

    When it’s not a fetish, how is a sexual attraction to transmen much different than my attraction to butch dykes? I’ve tried dating femmes, tried dating middle-of-the-road women, and I’ve never felt the attraction that I feel toward the butches. I don’t think I fetishize them in any way; I just seem to find chemistry only with butches. That’s not to say that I’m attracted to all butches or most butches, but the women I am attracted to all have butchness in common. They also tend to play sports, work in technical or scientific fields, often have served in the military, and just about all grew up Catholic. I don’t necessarily seek out those qualities, but they seem to be commonalities among the women I’ve loved. If someone like pigeon’s friend tends to be attracted to transmen, without being attracted to all transmen as if they are interchangeable, how is that so unusual from others’ patterns of attraction?

    This is a sincere question. I honestly don’t know the answer.

  12. Sniper
    Sniper May 8, 2007 at 10:16 pm |

    OJD, I”m riffing on the shock I felt at reading the article here, so bear with me. I think part of the answer to your question lies in the Cho quote: “the newest hottest thing to happen sexually”. Realizing one has a “type” is one thing (how many of date a string of geeks, or athletes, or musicians, without even realizing it?) but chasing a group of people as a group because of the one thing they have in common… that seems objectifying.

    There’s a funny scene in Better Than Chocolate when the FTM character makes an extravagant play for the tightly wound bookstore owner who only dates women exactly like herself. Paraphrasing, becuase it’s been years but… “I am exactly like you! I did my thesis on Gertrude Stein, and not the fun Gertrude Stein either!” At this point the characters realize their affinity and their plot thread ends happily.

    Recognizing an affinity is differerent from chasing a Representative of A Hot New (to you) Subculture.

    Does this make any sense? I’m running on fumes here.

  13. Ursula L
    Ursula L May 8, 2007 at 10:43 pm |

    It seems to me that with greater acceptance of transgender in society, it is going to involve some redefinition of sexual orientation. Instead of having strictly two genders, there are now four, or perhaps more, depending on definitions.

    Cismale isn’t identical to transmale, which isn’t identical to cisfemale, which isn’t identical to transfemale.

    How this translates into sexual orientation is going to be confusing for a while. Is “heterosexual female” the same as “Cisfemale and transfemale sexually attracted to cismale and transmale”?

    The understanding of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual has evolved a lot over the past 20 years. It only took one generation to transform “homosexual” from “wrong” to “different from heterosexual” in the common understanding. But it did take a generation, and it didn’t turn out exactly the way people imagined such a change would look like.

    At this point, we almost have to step back and say “ideas about gender are being transformed, and that means that ideas about sexual orientation are going to evolve, and we need to focus on tolerance and justice no matter what someone’s gender or sexual orientation is, without trying to predetermine exactly how these changes will happen, or anticipate how an understanding of more than two genders will come to define sexuality.”

  14. pigeon
    pigeon May 9, 2007 at 12:20 am |

    one jewish dyke–

    you articulated exactly what i was trying to get at, i think. my friend who partners with transmen isn’t attracted to all transmen, or see them as interchangeable, at least as far as i can tell from the conversations we’ve had. i think that’s where the ‘othering’ factor becomes relevant.

    for the most part, i’m attracted to femmes. it’s not that i think you have to be femme to be attractive, or that i only find femmes attractive, but for the most part, the women i’ve been the most compatible with and had long term relationships with have been femmes. and i don’t think anyone would accuse me of fetishizing femmes (it would be a hard accusation to level considering just how femme i am).

    holly, as far as the bit i quoted, i think the points you bring up are all totally valid. in defense of my friend, that piece is about her relationship with her partner and how their experiences, though very different, share certain similarities that are at the core of their connection. i don’t think she would suggest that all transmen share the same experiences or are coming from the same place, so much as that some of the common experiences of the transmen she’s been with are a part of why she partners with & is attracted primarily to transmen. hopefully that makes sense.

    that said, i think the questions you bring up are really important and it makes me wonder, how exactly do we draw the line between fetish & attraction? i mean, a lot of the time fetishizing is really blatant (like in the article above) but i think there are other cases which are more ambiguous. it’s a question i don’t particularly know how to answer & i’d be interested in hearing your (& anyone else’s) thoughts.

  15. Rebecca
    Rebecca May 9, 2007 at 12:40 am |

    I don’t believe that the existence of transpeople calls for a particular redefinition of sexuality at all. For one, the argument that transmen and transwomen are somehow another gender altogether reeks for me of othering. The experiences may not be identical; but then again, neither are the experiences of all cismen and all ciswomen.

    In terms of sexual orientation, I don’t think the situation is nearly as confusing as Ursula makes out above. In my experience, as transpeople have become more accepted in society, equally, we’ve become less othered in terms of sexuality. If transpeople are not cast as other against a cisgendered norm, then straight as “Cisfemale and transfemale sexually attracted to cismale and transmale” is exactly how sexuality becomes cast.

    I tend to see transsexuality in this context as being a bit like any non-obvious characteristic. You may not like to date/sleep with Republicans, but trying to argue that you can instinctively know someone is a Republican and not be attracted to them would be silly.

  16. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 9, 2007 at 1:07 am |

    That’s not to say that I’m attracted to all butches or most butches, but the women I am attracted to all have butchness in common. They also tend to play sports, work in technical or scientific fields, often have served in the military, and just about all grew up Catholic. I don’t necessarily seek out those qualities, but they seem to be commonalities among the women I’ve loved.

    I think that’s the difference: you find that the women you’ve loved have a whole list of commonalities, not just one. They all have backgrounds/interests that you feel comfortable with and can relate to. That’s different than, “Hey, I’m dating the newest hottest thing to happen sexually — a transman!”

    I have a redheaded friend who once dated a guy who had a fetish for red hair and, frankly, it started to creep her out pretty quickly, because ALL he was interested in was her hair. He would show her off like an object: “Look at my redhead! She’s natural, and she’s all MINE!” She felt like all she was to him was a head of hair, not an actual person, so she broke up with him.

  17. Mister Nice Guy
    Mister Nice Guy May 9, 2007 at 7:25 am |

    I surprised myself by my own attraction to a transman awhile back. I’d only ever admitted to being attracted to one man before, but this guy….

    Quite possibly I often feel desire for other men, but don’t allow myself to notice it consciously, and made an exception for this particular man because I knew he had a vagina.

    It may be significant that he also rarely has any interest in men, but found he was attracted to me.

  18. Catherine Martell
    Catherine Martell May 9, 2007 at 7:46 am |

    pigeon says:

    i think the questions you bring up are really important and it makes me wonder, how exactly do we draw the line between fetish & attraction?

    There is an extent to which this has become one of those “I have a legitimate attraction; you have a kink; they have a fetish” things. However, I do think there’s a more useful meaning to the word “fetish” than being an extreme version of attraction. The original, anthropological meaning – an object invested with reverence and possibly believed to have spiritual powers – is a good start. Mainly because it includes the word object.

    I don’t know where we can say precisely where the legitimacy of our desires begins or ends. Desire and emotion are rarely precise. Most of us probably are attracted to one “type” of human, though that “type” could be defined by any aspect of their person. It is possible to fancy exclusively bodybuilders, redheads, nerds, the Japanese, pianists, gerontophiles, women, Shi’ites, kind people, people with exceptionally large chins, etc. Or indeed a combination of many types. All of these “tastes” rest on a prejudice of some sort, and all require a form of discrimination. (Using those words in a dictionary-literal context, rather than to condemn.) You can be aware of these prejudices, but still hold them; very few people have no “type” at all.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument here, that one is attracted exclusively to transmen. If one has a series of loving, considerate relationships of a mutually satisfying and emotionally reciprocal nature with transmen, there seems to me to be no major problem. Of course, a series of positive relationships is probably a sign that one is picking people for more than their gender identity; perhaps other aspects of their personalities are also being considered.

    The problem arises if one has a series of disastrous relationships with transmen. That, I think, would be a hint that one is choosing the transmen because they are transmen, not because one actually responds to each individual transman as a human being. Their transmenness has come to obscure all the other aspects of their humanity. And that’s what it comes down to: do you relate to your partners as people, or as objects?

    If one is attracted to transmen because they are “the newest hottest thing”, one puts transmen on a level with handbags. If one is attracted to a human being who happens to be a transman, one puts him on a level with human beings. Which is, self-evidently, where he belongs.

    Molly Ivins (RIP) always used to say that the first rule of judging politicians was: “Look at the record.” I’d say the same thing about relationship history. Have a string of destructive and unpleasant encounters with transmen? Perhaps you’re fetishising them as objects rather than seeing them as people. Have a string of constructive and happy encounters with transmen? Congratulations!

  19. Kathy
    Kathy May 9, 2007 at 8:16 am |

    “how is a sexual attraction to transmen much different than my attraction to butch dykes?”

    Well in theory, it should be because they are actually men and dykes are sort of defined by not being attracted to men.

    However, there’s an emergent (and in some areas very very trendy) class within the lesbian community of trans-masculine lesbians. They may call themselves transmen and use male pronouns, but being very impolite and looking at it objectively, they aren’t really anything like men. They live entirely in the womyn’s/lesbian community, often enter women’s space (which is often denied by policy to transwomen!), and they date only lesbians. They frequently do not take hormones or have surgery. From an objective point of view, these people are butches with male pronouns. It’s this class of trans-masculine lesbians who seem to be the main focus of the “transsensual” (ick) fetishists/chasers.

    So in that sense, no, there isn’t any difference.

    There are, however, also lots of transmen who live lives as men, who don’t linger in the lesbian community or never were part of it. They take a lot of T, assimilate into “mainstream” society, and that is that.

  20. Noli Irritare Leones  » Blog Archive   » Piny on the desire for the exotic

    […] igitte Bardot Piny on the desire for the exotic piny writes about people who have a fetish for transsexuals. And this line leapt out at me, as having a bro […]

  21. Lynn Gazis-Sax
    Lynn Gazis-Sax May 9, 2007 at 8:50 am |

    that said, i think the questions you bring up are really important and it makes me wonder, how exactly do we draw the line between fetish & attraction?

    I wonder about that, too. I think a lot of us, even looking at cisgendered people, are more attracted to one point on the femme-to-butch continuum than another, so I can understand Cho’s FtoX attraction to ambiguity. I’m bisexual, but I’m not oblivious to how masculine or feminine a person is; I tend to be more attracted to men who aren’t too femme and women who aren’t too butch.

    My best guess is that the line between fetish and attraction would have something to do with how you treat the other person; are you able to respond to the people you’re attracted to as the different people that they actually are, or are you fitting them into some script?

    After all, when people complain about being the object of racial fetishes, it’s not the fact that someone might like a particular set of features, but the expectations that get put on the person of another race, that are the problem, right?

  22. Lynn Gazis-Sax
    Lynn Gazis-Sax May 9, 2007 at 8:57 am |

    very few people have no “type” at all.

    But a lot of people have more than one “type,” while some are very tied into one particular thing. For instance, part of what I tend to be attracted to is people involved in certain creative things – actors, poets, writers, etc., but not absolutely everyone I’ve ever been attracted to is in that “type.” If you’re not that “type,” and I’m attracted to you, you probably have another of the modest set of characteristics that tends to draw me. I think, when people say they don’t have a “type,” it may be a matter of having more than one “type,” not that they’re attracted to the whole world.

  23. Kathy
    Kathy May 9, 2007 at 9:37 am |

    I think the difference between fetish and attraction is the singular vs. the plural. He is so hot vs. THEY are soooo hot.

    I’d also had that there is a stage, in the middle, where transmen who are in the early to mid-stages of transition are incredibly attractive as masculinized women. I wonder how many trans-male-chasers are aware that five years down the line, that person is going to be completely indistinguishable from a natal male?

    the argument that transmen and transwomen are somehow another gender altogether reeks for me of othering

    I agree. The idea that all transpeople are some kind of third gender is also the foundation for a lot of “feminist” discrimination against transwomen. I’m not a third gender. I’m a woman.

    Other people can and are third gender, but that is not something inherent to transitioning.

  24. prosphoros
    prosphoros May 9, 2007 at 10:09 am |

    I thnk some transpeople do complicate the standardized sexualities generally defined as homo-/hetero-/bisexual, but certainly not all. I think it’s offensive to transsexuals to assume that just because their gender doesn’t/didn’t match their sex they comprise a different category, but I think it’s equally offensive to some transgendered folk to assume that their genders can be forced to fit into the categorizes upon which said sexualities typically rely.

  25. Frumious B
    Frumious B May 9, 2007 at 10:13 am |

    I think when the words “the newest hottest thing to happen sexually” are used, it’s a fetish, not an attraction.

    I’m a redhead, and have observed the redhead fetish for most of my life. With this viewpoint coloring my vision, I tend to react to complaints of appearance fetishism with “meh.” I see nothing wrong with pursuing people with a particular characteristic (hair color, ability, cis/trans status). I do see a problem with an inability to see anything besides that characteristic. However, I’ve never had the experience of being just a hair color. Everybody I’ve dated has seen me as a person. So that also colors my vision.

  26. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 10:42 am |

    I wonder how many trans-male-chasers are aware that five years down the line, that person is going to be completely indistinguishable from a natal male?

    And that’s the crux of it. If a person says they like transmen, well, then, they like men. An ftm in the early not-quite-passing stages of medical transition is not not a man, and he’s certainly not an uber-butch woman. And if said person insists that, no, they actually don’t like men, then they’ve just said that transmen are not men, but rather a fetish object.

    One can have an attraction to androogynous-leaning-to-masculine persons without invalidating those person’s personal identities. Phrasing it as “attracted to transmen” is not the way to do it.

  27. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 10:55 am |

    And you know I personally am not so much riding the gender wave as caught in the gender riptide, and if someone wants to capitalize on their gender variation as a identity, a dateable quality, or unique characteristic, fine, they can do that. But chasers assume that Bo the Binary Destructor, Joe the Transitioned Guy, and Me the Cranky Unradical Radical all have the same thoughts in our heads and the same feelings about our bodies and how we want to use them. They also have a universal sense of entitlement that comes through as an attitude that the poor trannies ought just be so grateful that someone deigns them attractive enough to fuck, like they are so evolved that they and only they can recognize how special and unique transbodies/experiences/energies are.

  28. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 11:11 am |

    Discussion on this here and here.

  29. MrSoul
    MrSoul May 9, 2007 at 11:34 am |

    piny, I have never minded the devos, and I am not sure why “tranny-chasing” per se, is supposed to be so bad. (I assume everyone here knows what devos are?–I think piny probably does.) I think OTHER people call it a “fetish”–but that just isn’t fair. It is only sick and weird if you consider the subjects of the attraction gross and disgusting.

    Most trannychasers acknowledge their persnicketiness in practice.

    Most devos “specialize” also. But if you are attracted to a specific body-type, of COURSE you are particular about that. People have distinct and lasting preferences for blonds, redheads, thin women, tall men, hairy chests, muscular biceps, big breasts, etc and nobody challenges that. Those are societally-approved “fetishes.” What’s wrong with preferring someone with a totally different body-type altogether? And what is wrong with finding a different body sexually arounsing? (Is the concept here, that we are not supposed to find transpeople “different” in the first place?)

    And part of the arousal might be because the attraction is considered “forbidden” and transgressive. So?

    As a disabled person, I have felt validated and pleased to be singled out by the devos, and so far, I have never felt exploited. Perhaps the phenomenon is not comparable? Still, plenty of disabled people disagree with me about this, and would write a lot of the same stuff you did–so maybe it’s just a personal preference, or just luck. Or it could be (as I suspect) that devoteeism manifests differently in women than in men, as we see that Margaret Cho doesn’t quite act like a tranny-chasing heterosexual man, IMO. (Although I see that Sophonisba disagrees.)

    I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with Cho’s (rather faddish) infatuation, unless she hurts someone in an intimate way. And I really do think the transmen can take care of themselves.

  30. R. Mildred
    R. Mildred May 9, 2007 at 12:03 pm |

    that said, i think the questions you bring up are really important and it makes me wonder, how exactly do we draw the line between fetish & attraction?

    There’s a huge difference between fetishisation of a group, and “a fetish” in general, merely finding something aobut a person really really sexually attractive does not make that attraction wrong, if the person with the fetish doesn’t them make fetish the be all and end all of how they view the person they’re attracted to.

    The term “fetish” is kinda misleading in that sense, because the trouble isn’t the fetish for transpeople per se, but the hugely dehumanising manner in which the fetishisation is being used to strip people down to nothing more than* their social Statuses.

    Of course when I say the term “fetish” is misleading, it’s apt for what piny was talking about, and I think some people mislead themselves as they attempted to figure out a clear good/bad dichotomy between “fetishes” and “kinks”/”sexuality”. But because language is use, then if you only use the term “fetish” to refer to dehumanising narccissistic attractions that sound suspiciously like they’re not really even attracted to transpeople, so much as they’re attracted to the idea of having had sex with lots transpeople, in some sort of weird score keeping fashion that the really limpdick men often talk about and obsess about fucking women – it’s not about attraction so much as it is about say to their mates afterwards “I fucked a tranny last night teehee!”-, then that’s what the term “fetish” will mean, and if you don’t stick to the same linguistic dichotomy it won’t.

  31. DJ
    DJ May 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm |

    However, there’s an emergent (and in some areas very very trendy) class within the lesbian community of trans-masculine lesbians. They may call themselves transmen and use male pronouns, but being very impolite and looking at it objectively, they aren’t really anything like men.

    For the record, while there might be “transmasculine lesbians” out there, many people, myself included identify as butch as gender, third gender, transgendered, genderqueer, etc.
    Not “lesbian” anything.

    Because it’s about gender, not sexual orientation. You can be butch or genderqueer and be attracted to masculine people of all stripes.

  32. Sarah in Chicago
    Sarah in Chicago May 9, 2007 at 12:07 pm |

    i think the questions you bring up are really important and it makes me wonder, how exactly do we draw the line between fetish & attraction?

    I think honestly it comes down to why a person is dating someone.

    I am a femme that prefers femmes. I just tend to prefer other femmes, and it will be a femme that more often than not catches my eye across the street.

    Now that’s not to say that I don’t think that butches in employing their masculinity to be gorgeous women aren’t sexy, because they ARE sexy [OT, but can I just say how much I HATE (with a passion) that line “I date women that look like women”? I detest it, because it reeks of that privileged gendering that us lesbians have always experienced from wider society]. And honestly, I have been attracted to a number of tomboys/jocks in the past … but it’s nothing like the base attraction I get to other femmes.

    But the thing is I won’t date someone because they are femme. Dating someone because they are some category makes that person into that category, which is Othering. You aren’t dating them as a person, you’re dating them as that thing.

    I tend to date other femmes because that’s what I am attracted to. But that’s not why I would date a particular femme. I’d date her because of who she is as a person, as a woman, as a queer. I don’t care how gorgeous a femme she may be, if the things I look for in someone aren’t there, then I am running in the other direction.

    At least though, that’s my distinction on that :)

  33. whatwhat
    whatwhat May 9, 2007 at 12:31 pm |

    I wish this post had been around when someone I knew was trannychasing in bars every weekend. He seemed almost delighted by the stories he could tell and the way he was flaunting gender boundaries, but I was just creeped out that he didn’t notice that any of those transwomen were, you know, people.

  34. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 12:33 pm |

    catches my eye across the street.

    Exactly. What does a transperson look like from across the street? (For the sake of argument, say ftm). Short? Small hands and feet? Scraggly beard? Suspiciously wide across the hips? Chasers look for tells and lose interest if their target turns out to be cisgendered.

  35. rwarrengill3@verizon.net
    rwarrengill3@verizon.net May 9, 2007 at 12:58 pm |

    I can only speak for my self.

    Gender is one thing I really hate, especially when it comes to defining my own. I usually stick to the “queer” label, but in a situation like this, i feel the need to be more descriptive. Some might say bio-guy, but again, I don’t like that distinction. Or cisgendered, but thats not really the case either. I have a penis, which i was was born with, and I sometimes wear clothes that are “masculine” (sometimes i wear clothes which are “masculine” in other parts of the world I.E. Sarongs…) And my hair is really long, and I have facial hair. So…I dunno what that makes me. Like I said, I like queer.

    For a very long time, well, when your 24, 8 years is a very long time, I self-identified as homosexual. That was until 2 summers ago, while I was living in Philadelphia, I met a FTM. We chatted online for a while, and eventually we hooked up. It was through him, that I realized that it was masculinity that was a turn on for me. Both transmasculinity and otherwise.

    This of course doesn’t mean that I am attracted to every transman. (although, in a moment of honest, I have yet to meet one who wasn’t HOT!) Every transman that I’ve met, and again, this isn’t to say that all transmen do, are also very self-aware, and that is a HUGE turn on for me.

    Also, what I have heard transmen saying has lead me to believe that they have a profound understanding of gender, and again, that is a turn on for me. I do like to be subversive, and I guess in someways, being with a transman is a subversive act, but I would not say that to be the primary reason, but I can not deny that is an attraction to me. Even if i was still in the homosexual mentality, being in a man-man relationship is a subversive act, and I like that. I am not, however, just trying to find the best way to be subversive.

    It seems to me that the challenge in all of this is making a person an object of desire and remembering that not all members of a class are the same. Despite heretofore not having found one, I am sure there are transmen out there who I would not find attractive either inside or out.

    I would love to meet transmen to date, make friends with, or fuck.

    But that doesn’t mean EVERY transman.

    Does that make me a trannychaser?

  36. sabotabby
    sabotabby May 9, 2007 at 1:08 pm |

    Because I am a pedant and a Torontonian, I feel the need to point out that it’s the Cliks, not the Clicks, and that unless their line-up has significantly changed lately, they’re all women with the exception of the singer, who is a transman. And while they are an attractive lot, I think that the girls may have been going wild for them because they’re also pretty talented. Which is the sort of thing that Cho (or Violet Blue, if Cho is being misquoted—and I hope Cho is being misquoted ’cause I like her) would have noticed if she’d been paying attention to the people, not the gender identity.

  37. bluestockingsrs
    bluestockingsrs May 9, 2007 at 1:10 pm |

    For the record, while there might be “transmasculine lesbians” out there, many people, myself included identify as butch as gender, third gender, transgendered, genderqueer, etc.
    Not “lesbian” anything.

    Because it’s about gender, not sexual orientation. You can be butch or genderqueer and be attracted to masculine people of all stripes

    .

    Thanks, DJ, yep, Butch is a noun (to reference a new book from S. Bear Bergman). Just like Femme is a noun, for me and many other Femmes out in the world, regardless of who we choose to partner with, Femme is our gender.

    Gender is separate from sexual orientation, EXACTLY!

    I felt like this was missing from this conversation as well.

    The transmen in my life deliberately ID as such, because they recognize that their experience of living as men is influenced by being trans. It is a deliberate marker of Other, in order to continue to break down gender from its current binary and so broaden our understanding as gender as constructed on purely arbitrary boundaries and standards.

    I think some of the language in this thread illustrates the lack of utlitiy with drawing such boundaries in the first place: uber-butch, transmasculine, etc.

  38. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 1:25 pm |

    being with a transman is a subversive act

    Yes, you are a chaser.

  39. Sarah in Chicago
    Sarah in Chicago May 9, 2007 at 1:31 pm |

    Just like Femme is a noun, for me and many other Femmes out in the world, regardless of who we choose to partner with, Femme is our gender.

    THANK YOU bluestockingsrs, thank you.

    I will say that my being a woman is influenced by my sexuality as lesbian, and my gender as Femme, as different from the feminine gender presentations of straight women … it’s very concretely different, and while there are commonalities, I am getting really sick of being taken as straight because of my gender as Femme (even in LGBT spaces).

  40. rwarrengill3@verizon.net
    rwarrengill3@verizon.net May 9, 2007 at 1:42 pm |

    Wearing a sarong, for me, is a subversive act. Having long hair, for me, is a subversive act. My faith, for me, is a subversive act.

    So much of my life is subversive. I don’t think based on that fact alone makes me a chaser.

    I’m still not sure what defines a “chaser”.

  41. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 2:00 pm |

    Even if i was still in the homosexual mentality, being in a man-man relationship is a subversive act,

    being with a transman is a subversive act

    Correct my reading, but you appear to be saying that you thought you were gay until you macked it with a transman . Newsflash: transmen are men. You don’t get a special subversive merit badge for sleeping with them, and you’re still a homo.

  42. pigeon
    pigeon May 9, 2007 at 2:14 pm |

    Just like Femme is a noun, for me and many other Femmes out in the world, regardless of who we choose to partner with, Femme is our gender.

    I will say that my being a woman is influenced by my sexuality as lesbian, and my gender as Femme, as different from the feminine gender presentations of straight women … it’s very concretely different, and while there are commonalities, I am getting really sick of being taken as straight because of my gender as Femme (even in LGBT spaces).

    yes, yes and yes.

  43. sophonisba
    sophonisba May 9, 2007 at 2:18 pm |

    we see that Margaret Cho doesn’t quite act like a tranny-chasing heterosexual man, IMO. (Although I see that Sophonisba disagrees.)

    Not exactly. What I was saying was that her attitudes towards transmen were indistinguishable for me from cisgendered het mens’ attitudes towards cisgendered women. The very particular form and expression of desire was the same, as was the lack of apology. I wasn’t saying anything about tranny-chasing men.

  44. One Jewish Dyke
    One Jewish Dyke May 9, 2007 at 2:35 pm |

    Kathy – I was asking if the act of attraction to transmen is different than the act of attraction to butches. I could have said femmes, women, or men just as easily. I am not asking how butches and transmen are different. As someone who is attracted to butches but not FTMs once they move beyond a certain point on the FTM continuum, I understand that difference well. I like butch women, women being the operative word.

  45. Holly
    Holly May 9, 2007 at 2:39 pm |

    There’s a lot of stuff I agree with so far in this discussion, and thank you especially piny, bluestocking, catherine martell.

    I do want to talk about this:

    People have distinct and lasting preferences for blonds, redheads, thin women, tall men, hairy chests, muscular biceps, big breasts, etc and nobody challenges that. Those are societally-approved “fetishes.”

    Actually I’m not sure I entirely agree. I’ve known redheads and large-breasted women who have had really bad experiences with people who have sought them out solely for their attributes. And I have been in conversations where this same stuff has been brought up about height, absence or presence of body hair, muscles vs. fat (I mean, fat is an obvious one, right?) Sure, maybe a lot of this is not part of mainstream discourse; but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t or shouldn’t be in communities where we try to pay more attention to bodily differences, how they affect people, how we can respect and honor each other and each other’s experiences in better ways. Even in mainstream culture, for any of those traits there is a “line” of obsessive / monomaniacal pursuit of a characteristic where you’d be considered to have an “unhealthy fetish” and it’s stigmatized. But the cases that have been coming up in this discussion are much more nuanced, I think.

    To echo what’s already been said, if it becomes more about the attribute than who you are as a person, that is a huge line that’s been crossed. Across a line into objectification where eventually it’s not about a relationship between humans any more, it’s more like a dog humping a chair leg. And before that comparison shocks or offends anyone, no I absolutely don’t believe that everyone who dates exclusively or identifies as a chaser or having a fetish is objectifying their partners to that degree.

    But all of us who have types — which might be everyone, but especially if we feel like we just have ONE type or one that predominates — ought to be thinking about how much that element of objectification is entering into our desires and how we treat our partners, who after all, are human beings first, and humans with certain “noteworthy” qualities second. It’s society that makes things “noteworthy,” and if you ask me society is usually suspect and not a force you want over-determining a lot of your intimate emotional interactions.

    Heck, I would not even draw the line at whether someone is attracted to men or women. I have had some discussions about this recently with a friend who has been exploring her sexuality more, and is really interested in dating men after a long stretch of only dating other women. She ran into some problems that I suspected were related in part to the fact that she wasn’t primarily looking for an individual, a human being with whom to relate as one person to another. Sure, she wanted that, but it was not at the top of her priorities. Most of all, she wanted a man, as a characteristic, and certain things she associated with men and dating men. She was focused more on those qualities, attributes, a sort of laundry list of masculinity and heterosexuality — not on the actual people she was dating. She kind of snapped out of it, and never really thought of it as a fetish — but that’s in large part because I don’t think it’s possible in our society to regard “men” as a fetish.

    I couldn’t possibly knock the idea of being excited that someone is into you for some part of who you are, especially if that part is something that you get picked on or discriminated against for most of the time. It’s kind of attractive. And heck, I have been there… I’ve been told that I’m attractive, hot, sexy, on grounds that I’m half-Japanese. Because I’m androgynous. Because I’m trans. Because I’m short AND because I’m tall. Because I have pale skin and pitch black hair. Heck, even by non-nerds because I’m a nerd. I’m generally fine with all that, as long as it doesn’t cross over a line. If someone doesn’t know me very well, and they start talking about that stuff rather than finding out who I am — that is a warning sign. If someone’s more focused on something ABOUT me instead of who I am, that’s a warning sign. And if someone has constructed a whole oppositional, persecuted identity around being attracted to some group that I belong to because of one facet of my being, well… I definitely have a problem with that. Even if there is real opposition and persecution involved. Get your own identity, don’t try to springboard off of what I’ve had to go through. That’s what creeps me out.

  46. Lynn Gazis-Sax
    Lynn Gazis-Sax May 9, 2007 at 2:52 pm |

    If someone’s more focused on something ABOUT me instead of who I am, that’s a warning sign.

    With me, when I was younger, and super thin, one warning sign was focusing beyond a certain point on how thin I was – it set off a “would this person still like me if I gain weight later on” red flag.

    Is some of the worry about “chasing” a concern that people are attracted to a transitory state during transition, and won’t so much like what you’ll later turn into?

  47. bentorc
    bentorc May 9, 2007 at 2:58 pm |

    I think there are a couple of different reasons why people who say, “I like transmen” are suspect. The first has to do with the assumptions that people are implicitly making when they make that kind of statement, like ‘they’re the best of both worlds’ or ‘they’re like men but better’. (And note that it’s really hard to say that you like transmen without implying that transmen are different from men, which is a problem for obvious reasons.) It’s the same with other characteristics. Saying that you like red hair or big breasts isn’t *necessarily* fetishizing, except when you either treat someone like a collection of features or make assumptions based on those features – like “women with big breasts are easy” or “redheads are fiery”.

    The second reason has to do with the argument that if it isn’t problematic to aesthetically prefer red hair or big breasts, it shouldn’t be a problem to aesthetically prefer trans bodies. But what does that mean? In the case of transmen, it probably means that you like a masculine body but prefer a vagina. Some transmen are okay with that, but lots of others would be seriously pissed off, because who wants to be desired for a body part they don’t want? It’s possible to simultaneously like one’s own body and wish that it were different, and most people don’t want to eroticized based on the thing they wish were different. And that’s the charitable reading, because it’s not usually the case that a chaser has a merely aesthetic response. There are probably other assumptions being made, about trans bodies, histories, and characteristics. This also isn’t the same as liking butches or femmes, because those attractions are based on chosen sets of behaviours, not bodies that aren’t chosen.

    I would argue that a chaser is someone who thinks a transman is different from a man; this can be done in more or less disgusting ways, and some transmen don’t mind being the object of this. (More power to them. . .) If you consider transmen men, who may share certain characteristics but generally are pretty different from person to person, then you probably aren’t a chaser.

  48. Sarah in Chicago
    Sarah in Chicago May 9, 2007 at 3:20 pm |

    on grounds that I’m half-Japanese.

    It’s really interesting you bring that up Holly … a significant minority of my exes are asian (mostly Chinese mind you), and a majority of my exes are non-white … which, given the fact that I am white myself (and I am white-white, of english, welsh and dutch descent … any more and I would be see-through) has been noticed.

    I have been asked if I prefer women-of-colour, and the first time I was asked that, I was taken aback, as honestly I had never really thought about it in those terms. As I thought about it more, I realised it was probably that some of the things I looked for in a woman to date were attributes that might crop up in minority and immigrant groups (social awareness, social critical thinking, internationalist perspectives, a consciousness of cultural performances, etc).

    But people noticing this has continued to make me think, though I do still date a number of whites as well. I never go after a woman because of her race … and for the record, all my Asian exes asked ME out *smile*

    Maybe it’s more because people are so expected to date inside their race that the fact that I unintentionally don’t becomes so visible … I have met asian-festishists *shudder* and those guys freak me out.

  49. rwarrengill3@verizon.net
    rwarrengill3@verizon.net May 9, 2007 at 3:28 pm |

    Em,

    Thank you for that. I didn’t intend to sound that way, and it did. I appologize

    I do not still self identify as homosexual.

    I am attracted to masculinity, and that might include a number of people in a diversity of genders.

    I intended to mean transmasculine when I said transman. Not all transmasculine individuals identify as men. Indeed, not all masculine people are men.

    And still, I think the subversive part is being taken far out of proportion. Just as when I did self-ID as homosexual, I was not attracted to men because I wanted to be subversive. It just happens to be, and that is a plus.

    Of course, everyone is an individual, and everyone is treated as such. I wouldn’t hookup or date a transman (or anyone for that matter) simply because they had some singular characteristic that I fancied. There are a series of things which I look for, some of which I named in my first post.

  50. mk
    mk May 9, 2007 at 3:42 pm |

    Bentorc, I agree with a lot of what you said, but this stood out to me:

    This also isn’t the same as liking butches or femmes, because those attractions are based on chosen sets of behaviours, not bodies that aren’t chosen.

    I agree that being a chaser isn’t like being attracted to butches or femmes (for a variety of reasons, many already well-articulated here), but I wish you wouldn’t assume that butches and femmes all necessarily have the bodies we chose. Not all butches and femmes are cisgendered. Not all butches and femmes have the bodies we would choose if we could. Behaviors can be altered, yes, but a significant portion of my butch identity comes from the body I was given–a body that is often read as male or androgynous, and would be even if I performed more femininely. Presumably some people who are attracted to butches would be attracted to me (in part) precisely because of my body.

    /mild derail

  51. edith
    edith May 9, 2007 at 4:23 pm |

    I’ve always liked the term “transsensual.” Seems less fucked up than “tranny-chaser.”

  52. bluestockingsrs
    bluestockingsrs May 9, 2007 at 4:27 pm |

    I was about to say, what mk said so well.

    Thanks – seems like the story of my life as a femme is trying to help other people understand that there is nothing monolithic about butches or femmes or the butch-femme community.

    Except, of course, that most of the rest of world, including our own community, sees us as sexual deviants and would rather that we conceal our desire rather than wear it so openly. We are to many in a word, embarassing.

    /further derail

  53. Nick Kiddle
    Nick Kiddle May 9, 2007 at 5:16 pm |

    I’ve always liked the term “transsensual.” Seems less fucked up than “tranny-chaser.”

    That’s why a lot of people object to it: it sanitises chasing and makes it sound like something it really isn’t.

  54. blair
    blair May 9, 2007 at 5:27 pm |

    I also discovered her new fetish, what she thinks is “the newest hottest thing to happen sexually”: transmen and trannyboys.

    I’m surprised no one has brought up this particular line. It really illustrates the difference between attraction to particular physical attributes vs. fetishizing and othering, or does to me at least. I know that her use of the word ‘thing’ in that sentence refers to a new sexual trend, but it also reads like she’s referring to transmen as ‘things’. You don’t get much more objectifying than that.

  55. Feministe » Femme as a Noun
    Feministe » Femme as a Noun May 9, 2007 at 5:29 pm |

    […] Femme as a Noun
    Posted by piny @ 5:29 pm

    It sounded like the commenters in this thread were worried about turning into a derail, so I thought I’d open up a new […]

  56. alicepaul
    alicepaul May 9, 2007 at 6:54 pm |

    I am a femme who is partnered with a “non-op FTM” or a “male-identified butch,” depending on his mood.

    I realize there are multiple ways of understanding a transgender identity.

    My partner understands the category of “transman” as SPECIFICALLY different from natal/bio “man,” and I tend to agree with him. I know many people would find this offensive.

    We are both radfems, and the way we see it, most transmen were socialized as women, meaning they didn’t grow up with male privilege. They were not taught a sense of gender-based entitlement. They grew up in a culture that punishes, oppresses, and threatens with violence individuals who have female genitalia, regardless of how said individuals understand/construct/express their gender. This is entirely opposed to the way bio men are raised/conditioned. Straight bio men may go their entire lives without questioning or contemplating gender issues and with no remote grasp of walking around with a vagina in an explicitly vagina-hating world.

    I am personally attracted to masculinity and masculine presentation in all forms. In terms of biological sex, male and female and intersex genitals are all equally acceptable and interesting to me. So are thin bodies, fat bodies, and in between bodies.

    However, I will not date bio men for the above (political) reasons. So if I’m an ftm/butch “chaser” it has nothing to do with fetishizing a particular body type/set of sex organs, and everything to do with finding a way to date someone I am attracted to who wasn’t raised to be my oppressor.

  57. MrSoul
    MrSoul May 9, 2007 at 7:24 pm |

    I do not think that the dynamic is all that different between men and women. I would like to hear more about the differences you’ve noticed.

    I was talking about the disability-devos. I don’t know if these gender differences carry over into the tranny-chasing phenomenon or not.

    The devo men tend to stalk, obsessively collect photos (one well-known guy has photos in the tens of thousands, starting with the polio epidemic), rudely take photos of female athletes at the Paralympics, and intrusive, weird stuff like that. By contrast, the devo women tend to go into nursing or become caregivers in some other way, and don’t readily acknowledge any lust factor; they emphasize how heroic disability is, Harlequin romance style. These differences mirror gender differences. (That is not to say every devo falls into those categories, that’s a generalization, etc.)

    I would think the same thing is true of the “transsensuals” (never heard that one before!)–the men collect photos and obsessively stalk; the women emphasize a romantic narrative, or as in Cho’s case, a “political” narrative that also sounds romantic, like a teenage crush (Beatlemania indeed). For women, a whole “story” seems important, a more holistic approach. On this thread, being attracted to “the whole person” is a frequent refrain from women in particular. I’ve seen this gender difference manifest around this discussion about fifteen thousand times. ;)

    I am not saying I approve of these gender differences, just describing what I’ve seen, since you said you were interested.

    Similarly, female devos usually want long-term relationships or marriage, whereas the male devos may or may not want any lasting involvement. Men seem more prone to the same “slumming” phenomenon seen in tranny-chasing –they want the hot sex but won’t introduce their disabled lover to their family or friends.

    Speaking of which, there was this long, extremely intense post on the nets some years ago (long since pulled, and too bad). Some devo guy meets a disabled woman with exact body-type he wants (pretty specific), and she’s beautiful, too. Momentarily, he is ecstatically happy — except apparently he is “WASP Harvard golden boy” or something, and suddenly can’t deal. What is he going to tell his FAMILY? His friends??? OMG, he never thought of that. He really never expected to meet the woman of his dreams, but here she was. Much gnashing of teeth. He was such a good writer, I actually felt empathy for him for maybe 3 1/2 seconds.

    When he refused to invite her to some blueblood family-reunion cook-out thing, she dropped his ass in record time (yes!) and then he whined and cried and felt suicidal.

    It was great reading! Wish that guy was still around, but I guess I wasn’t the only person linking to him! haha!

    I guess these issues do not readily translate to trans identities, since once the transition is complete, it really ceases to be a public issue, except for the interesting dynamic you mention:

    Many if not most transpeople eventually become post-transition men and women who live their lives as men and women; they grow out of “transgender” in some ways and have the right to recognition of that fact. This is the sort of mindset that causes chasers to non-consensually out their partners because they don’t want anyone to think they’re in a plain ol’ straight relationship.

    Deepest apologies for length!

  58. Danyell
    Danyell May 9, 2007 at 8:51 pm |

    I’m not sure if it was said: But I think what’s most likely is not that it’s even a legitimate fetish to Cho, but that’s it’s sort of a trend. If she thinks “dating transmen is subversive”, she means to say “it makes me cool & edgy”. She likes to think that sleeping with transmen makes her more open-minded, progressive and perhaps even smarter than some other people. That is to say, she’s probably more turned on by the concept of what she is doing, rather than the people she’s doing it with. Perhaps her attraction is sincere, but I suspect that she’ll lose interest when she discovers another group of people who exoticness arouses her. I guess we’ll have to see if and when she takes on another “new fetish”.

    Btw, someone mentioned the terms cismale and cisfemale. I tried looking the terms up and couldn’t find them. Could someone please illuminate me as to what they mean? Perhaps I’m just spelling them incorrectly?

  59. David
    David May 9, 2007 at 10:23 pm |

    Margaret Cho is a comedian, and a good one. I would be wary of making too much of a vague description of something she said that doesn’t even describe the context. For all I know, she could have been making fun of the chasers.

  60. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 10:25 pm |

    Danyell, cis means “on the same side of”, so it’s the opposite of trans (“on the other side of”). It basically refers to a person who is not transgender. By giving both subsets of people a prefix, it helps prevent Othering when discussing trans issues.

  61. Em
    Em May 9, 2007 at 10:30 pm |

    they emphasize how heroic disability is, Harlequin romance style.

    It’s cool that you seem to like this sort of attention, but the vast majority of trans people I know don’t find anything heroic about their lives. It’s a pain in the ass to deal with whether or not medical transition is involved. I think that most trans people, however they are coping, are trying to find the easiest way to do so, not doing something harder b/c it’s more ‘heroic.’

  62. Aliem
    Aliem May 10, 2007 at 9:25 am |

    bentorc says:

    The second reason has to do with the argument that if it isn’t problematic to aesthetically prefer red hair or big breasts, it shouldn’t be a problem to aesthetically prefer trans bodies. But what does that mean? In the case of transmen, it probably means that you like a masculine body but prefer a vagina. Some transmen are okay with that, but lots of others would be seriously pissed off, because who wants to be desired for a body part they don’t want?

    If I say that I like transmen, and that, ceteris paribus, I would choose a transman over a man who wasn’t trans, but it is not a deciding factor (i.e. I date non-trans men too), does this make me a chaser?

    If I say that I like transmen because I have serious issues with penises and would prefer to avoid them, while not avoiding dating men, does this make me a chaser? Does it matter that the appeal is not “man with vagina” a la Buck Angel, but “man without penis”?

    If I say that I like transmen because I am myself a primarily-lesbian transchick who is interested in experimenting with heterosexuality, but not terribly interested in dealing with non-trans men further out of a well-learned avoidance grounded in personal experiences with transphobia?

    If I say that I like transmen because I’m like a heterosexual, non-op transchick and the idea – at least conceptually – of having as-normative-as-I-can-get-without-getting-my-crotch-carved-up-by-surgeons-who-will-leave-me-inorgasmic heterosexual intercourse like all my girlfriends get to have is deeply, deeply appealing.

    All of the above are real people of my acquaintance, and I’ve had this conversation with each of them: why transmen, what’s the appeal, do you know how you sound sometimes. I’m not a transguy, but I am a transchick; not going to remotely equate the two experiences, but I have a sense of how I’d feel if things were reversed. *I* would make the argument that since the crux of the problem with fetishization is the othering process, that none of the above are terribly problematic.

    But I am quite curious to know what others would say.

  63. Holly
    Holly May 10, 2007 at 10:16 am |

    I’ve totally been in more than one of the situations you describe above at various points in my life, and this is what I think is the key line of your post:

    “…do you know how you sound sometimes.”

    OK, a whole lot of us have reasons for going after or avoiding certain kinds of bodies, certain genders, certain body parts. That doesn’t mean we should always talk about them. As weird as it sounds in this sex-positive space in a mostly sex-positive era, where we firmly believe that we should all be proud and open about our sexual feelings… I honestly think that sometimes, some people should deal with psychosexual issues around other people’s bodies, other peolpe’s body parts, other people’s gender, in ways that don’t directly involve those people. Why? Because they’re other people’s bodies and gender!

    If you have complicated feelings, feelings that have been influenced by your upbringing, by our messed-up society, then deal with them — I certainly have been there and have had to. And yeah, it definitely makes sense sometimes to work out feelings, or ways of coping, or adjusting, or accepting who you are, with other people — counselors, close friends, even partners. But let me just say, it can SUCK to be a partner to someone who has issues that they have to work out, or don’t want to work out, with some aspect of your body or gender (or race, for that matter, or class.) And then it’s another thing entirely to take this stuff into a public sphere.

    So I don’t think there needs to be any blaming about who is naughty or nice when it comes to the psychology of sexuality, a whole lot of really intense feelings that we didn’t choose, experiences that a lot of us certainly didn’t choose to have, wiring that we often don’t have much control over. We all still need to think about that stuff, for our own sakes as much as anyone else’s. And there is certainly a place for support from friends and community. But at the same time, for the sake of others who might be implicated in your feelings about others’ bodies… we all ought to think about exactly what Aliem mentioned… how we sound sometimes.

    I’d also like to say that I have a whole lot of problems with the views you mention of your acquaintance who equates “transhick+transguy having sex” with “normative” somehow (!?) and “surgery” with “inorgasmic.” Ok sure, that’s an interesting view of how things work, if a really flawed and incomplete one.

  64. bentorc
    bentorc May 10, 2007 at 10:44 am |

    mk, thanks for the correction. You’re right, and I shouldn’t have made that distinction so starkly. The point I meant to make was that attraction based on chosen behaviour is different than attraction based on physical features, specifically physical features that one doesn’t want. But behaviours and bodies overlap, and of course transpeople don’t have a monopoly on unwanted body parts, physically altered bodies, or complex relationships to their bodies. . .

  65. MrSoul
    MrSoul May 10, 2007 at 11:13 am |

    It’s cool that you seem to like this sort of attention, but the vast majority of trans people I know don’t find anything heroic about their lives. It’s a pain in the ass to deal with whether or not medical transition is involved. I think that most trans people, however they are coping, are trying to find the easiest way to do so, not doing something harder b/c it’s more ‘heroic.’

    Em, I was simply describing a gendered point of view that I have observed. I didn’t say I thought it was good or bad, or even true. (I am not heroic in the least, for instance.) I am referring to stereotypes and social patterns, a lot like what is being talked about in this thread.

    Enjoying attention is not the same as approving of all the reasons you get that attention in the first place.

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear about that.

  66. bentorc
    bentorc May 10, 2007 at 11:27 am |

    Aliem, I think all the examples you laid out are problematic, more or less, and the last one is problematic for all kinds of reasons; i.e., I certainly wouldn’t want to be someone’s lifeline to sexual ‘normality’, and I also don’t need to have the kind of sex that I’m going to have circumscribed by someone’s else’s psychological need for normality. And, where did those assumptions about surgery come from?!

    If I say that I like transmen, and that, ceteris paribus, I would choose a transman over a man who wasn’t trans, but it is not a deciding factor (i.e. I date non-trans men too), does this make me a chaser?

    Why? Since transmen *are* men, why choose them as a class over xy men? Red flags go up for me because of that, even though I don’t know if I’d say this person is a chaser. I think the ‘ceteris paribus’ is a canard, because in reality, things are never equal. There are assumptions being made about transmen (and xy men) as a group. If the preference is for transbodies, some folks don’t mind that, and some do. If the preference is for men who were raised as women, this person is in for some disappointment. Plenty of transmen have screwed up assumptions about men/women/gender roles/the patriarchy/etc. (and plenty of xy men don’t). Tranny ≠ enlightened.

    If I say that I like transmen because I have serious issues with penises and would prefer to avoid them, while not avoiding dating men, does this make me a chaser? Does it matter that the appeal is not “man with vagina” a la Buck Angel, but “man without penis”?

    I feel like this various from person to person. I, at least, have more sympathy with this argument. I feel like the ‘man without penis’ thing does make a difference, but I can’t articulate why. . .

    If I say that I like transmen because I am myself a primarily-lesbian transchick who is interested in experimenting with heterosexuality, but not terribly interested in dealing with non-trans men further out of a well-learned avoidance grounded in personal experiences with transphobia?

    I can see why threat of transphobia and personal safety issues are important here, and it’s hard to argue against personal experience, especially when it’s an experience I don’t share. But see above – seeking out transmen won’t guarantee enlightened men. If someone doesn’t want to date xy men but they do want me – well, I don’t want to date that person.

    I should add, too, that I keep referring to transmen because I am one. I know transwomen have a similar set of issues and I feel like I’m elliding that; I just don’t know anything about it.

  67. Holly
    Holly May 10, 2007 at 12:20 pm |

    Why? Since transmen *are* men, why choose them as a class over xy men? Red flags go up for me because of that, even though I don’t know if I’d say this person is a chaser. I think the ‘ceteris paribus’ is a canard, because in reality, things are never equal. There are assumptions being made about transmen (and xy men) as a group. If the preference is for transbodies, some folks don’t mind that, and some do. If the preference is for men who were raised as women, this person is in for some disappointment. Plenty of transmen have screwed up assumptions about men/women/gender roles/the patriarchy/etc. (and plenty of xy men don’t). Tranny ≠ enlightened.

    This really speaks to what alicepaul said earlier in this thread too, I think.

  68. alicepaul
    alicepaul May 10, 2007 at 1:37 pm |

    If the preference is for men who were raised as women, this person is in for some disappointment. Plenty of transmen have screwed up assumptions about men/women/gender roles/the patriarchy/etc. (and plenty of xy men don’t). Tranny ≠ enlightened.

    I have no doubt that there are sexist transmasculine people out there, but my current partner is not one of them, nor would I date any ftms/butches who were misogynists.

    However, I’m afraid that ALL xy men were, in fact, raised by society to hate women/think women are rapeable (borrowing from Twisty here). XY men are, by definition, members of the dominant, oppressor class. I’m just one of those gals who doesn’t want to date someone who doesn’t consider me a human being. But this goes into another issue entirely.

  69. Holly
    Holly May 10, 2007 at 2:07 pm |

    I’m curious about who are you including in “xy men.” It’s certainly also very different to be an XY child who understands yourself to be female, and then to be taught that women are suitable objects of hate and rape. Too much emphasis on chromosomes (and maybe you didn’t mean to include non-male-identified/raised folks) ends up trampling on a lot of people, including XY women (see also: androgen insensitivity syndrome).

    Also, from your earlier post you seem to get that a lot of people are offended by the idea that trans men and non-trans men are inherently different, and even if you’ve never met one you understand that there are trans men who are every bit as (misogynist, sexist, this quality, that quality, any quality) as your average non-trans guy. You realize this also has a lot to do with why people object to terms like “bio men” and “ftms/butches” too, right?

  70. bentorc
    bentorc May 10, 2007 at 9:21 pm |

    I’m curious about who are you including in “xy men.”

    I use that to refer to what people often call ‘cisgendered’ men, i.e. male id’d folks raised as men. I don’t like the term cisgendered for the same reason I dislike transgendered. Transgendered implies either a change in gender or a gender that crosses between man/woman. I am a transsexual, which for me describes the physical changes I’ve undergone; my gender has always been male, and has not changed. I definitely don’t mean to emphasize chromosomes in a biological destiny kind of way. Rather, I settled on that term as a purely physical description (e.g., I’d call myself an xx male), with no hierarchy or othering implication. You’re right, though, that the term can exclude intersex folks who still identify with the gender in which they were raised, but whose chromosomes don’t fit the usual patterns. So maybe I should switch to transsexual/cissexual. So hard to find good terminology. . .

    I’m not sure if the second part of your comment is for me or #70 (since that comment uses ‘ftms/butches’. But I never use ‘bio men’, and if I did I’d include myself in that category. I use ftm, but only as a description of my physical state. And I wouldn’t conflate ftm/butch.

  71. tanmitch
    tanmitch May 11, 2007 at 1:54 am |

    Em wrote (way back at 42):

    Correct my reading, but you appear to be saying that you thought you were gay until you macked it with a transman . Newsflash: transmen are men. You don’t get a special subversive merit badge for sleeping with them, and you’re still a homo.

    i think it is important to remember that this is not always true (reflecting some of what DJ said earlier). there are folks who identify as trans/ftm/genderqueer/butch etc. who’ve done hormones (or not), had surgery (or not), and with all the facial hair, receding hairlines, deeper voice, and ability to pass STILL do not see themselves as male/man. my partner (born female) started hormones 12 years ago, has had top surgery, passes 100% of the time but is very out as trans and does not id as a man.

    piny also said (at 55)

    Many if not most transpeople eventually become post-transition men and women who live their lives as men and women; they grow out of “transgender” in some ways and have the right to recognition of that fact.

    this has been part of our struggle as a couple…i don’t think you “grow out of transgender”. it would be very easy and very comfortable to live as straight (and we are admittedly read as a hetero couple regardless), but there are still things that are everpresent that don’t allow us to fade into post-transition life. most relevant for us is my partner’s desire to be out as trans, but issues as mundane as relatives “forgetting” why we aren’t married to as serious as working with the insurance companies and medical personnel to explain why my domestic partnership covers the “guy over there with the beard” and that “yes, indeed that pap smear is for HIM” are still there and still very real…a reminder every day (or every other year for the smear) that the label man (and the identity straight) don’t quite fit right.

  72. Tranny Boy
    Tranny Boy May 11, 2007 at 10:07 am |

    First off, I think that Ms. Cho’s remarks are being taken much too seriously and out of context.
    I indentify as a transgendered male and I date women and I have encountered many who say that I, and boys like me, are the gender of their choice. Nothing wrong with that.
    I don’t think it’s a fetish, it’s simply a preference in gender. Just like being gay or a lesbian.
    I think that perhaps Margaret just discovered that she might perhaps prefer the trans male gender.
    I think it’s a little over the top to atatck her on this since she has been such a friend on the LGBT community and yes, is a friend to us.
    It’s simply wording, not malicous intent and I think that her support of our collective communities should be enough to prove that this quote didn’t come from a bad place.
    I think this is what creates resentment in our communities, this in-fighting about who is more politically in tune with terminoligy.
    Isn’t it wnough that she’s out there fighting the good fight on our behalf? Come on kids. Get with it.
    I’m glad that they’re are women out there who are “tranny-chasers”. Without that openness of gender preference (like gays and lesbians), I wouldn’t have a hope in the world of being able to find love, sex, intimacy, etc…
    If someone is into dykes or fags, does that make it a fetish? No, it makes it a preference as to who you are attracted to and both terms have become something we hold up proudly within our community as we own them.
    Let’s remember that not many straight women are attracted to transgendered men and that’s fine, because we are not the gender of their preference because, yes, we are not born biologically men and to deny that, is a diservice to yourself and to the community.
    I don’t care how many trans men want to get away with lying to themselves about the fact that they are trans and “real men”…it’s a reality that you are a “transexual/transgendered man”, be proud of it. I am!
    All I have to say is THANK GOD for TRANNY CHASERS!!!!
    We are a gender and people are attracted to us.
    So please, respect and acknowledge peoples good actions and deeds to our community, before you start picking them apart in front of the enetire world of right wing assholes who want nothing more than to see us destroy ourselves and each other.
    I say HURRAY for Margaret Cho coming out of the closet!

  73. Drakyn
    Drakyn May 11, 2007 at 12:32 pm |

    trans male gender… Let’s remember that not many straight women are attracted to transgendered men and that’s fine, because we are not the gender of their preference because, yes, we are not born biologically men and to deny that, is a diservice to yourself and to the community. … I don’t care how many trans men want to get away with lying to themselves about the fact that they are trans and “real men”…it’s a reality that you are a “transexual/transgendered man”… We are a gender and people are attracted to us.

    Some trans*men identitfy as a third gender, two spirit, genderqueer, etc. NOT ALL OF US DO!
    I am not lying to anyone, least of all myself. I am a man. I was born a man. I am a man-born-man. I have always been a man. I will always be a man. I am not third gendered, two spirited, genderqueer, or any other gender than MAN. I am a man whose sex is transsexual male. I am a queer, fem guy. I am a trans*man. The only time I lie is when I pretend I’m a girl. I’d be lying if I tried to pretend I was third gendered or genderqueer.

    And there are plenty of people attracted to us as men. My boyfriend is attracted to me (on the physical level) because I am a hot fem guy. He felt safe going after me because I am a geek, but he is attracted to me because I am an attractive man. If you go over and ask on any of the trans* eljay communities, I am sure you would find a fair amount of gay men and straight women partnered with trans*guys and a fair amount of gay women and straight men partnered with trans*women. And bi, queer, pansexual, etc. people attracted to trans*people who see them as their gender identity and not as a third gender, genderqueer, etc. (obviously, this only applies to trans*people who identify as either man or woman).

    Being attracted to transmasculine people is not necessarily a fetish. But when we are nothing but trans* to this person and we are all seen as the same or very similar, then it is objectification and nothing more.

    There are some very, very bad tranny chasers out there. I remember on the ftm discussions a lot of people came forward about how tranny chaser exes tried to make them transition or tried to keep them from transitioning. Just because they found trans*people in X stage of transition hot. Other people dscribed chasers as going through and latching onto newly out people and taking advantage of them. Telling them how they should like having sex, what pronouns they should be comfortable with, etc. All while saying that they were experienced, knew what they were talking about, and thought they were so hott.

    Whatever you say, there are people who fetishize/objectify us. Here is one such person, http://www.nerve.com/PersonalEssays/Newitz/trannychaser/

    Some people try to “reclaim” the term tranny chaser, to change the definition so that it no longer describes someone who objectifies trans* people. I don’t think it is their term to reclaim. I think reclaiming it and trying to make it just another sexual orientation or descriptor is not their place.
    Rather like if people who are voyeurs (but who only watched with peoples’ permission) tried to reclaim the term peeping tom. Peeping tom doesn’t describe them. Tranny chaser doesn’t describe someone who happens to be attracted to people on the trans* and transitioning continuums.

  74. Jay in Chicago
    Jay in Chicago May 11, 2007 at 12:59 pm |

    Tranny Boy:

    Clearly you came here because this was linked from the ftm livejournal community.
    I’d like to respectfully ask that you PLEASE read each and every comment that comes before yours here. It’s so obvious that you haven’t, and that’s rude. It’s rude and I daresay I think you could stand to learn a little bit from the eye-opening and well measured comments that anticipated your superficial ra-ra-ra-tranny chasers pablum.
    Oh, and I may be a “trans” man, but my gender is male. So speak for your damn self.

  75. varanus
    varanus May 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm |

    On Shared Experience

    You know, I simultaneously get very offended and disgusted with the whole tranny-chasing/”transsensual” phenomenon and don’t really care much at all. I am a man of transsexual history, so I have a bit of a vested interest.

    When I was very early in transition, I fell victim to a chaser, a woman who identified very publicly as a dyke but who claimed to be attracted to “masculinity.” Oddly enough, this never manifested itself in being attracted to men assigned male at birth, although she claimed that it might hypothetically. I was still in that phase of transition where I was worried that no one would ever find me attractive and when other people validating me as male often made the difference in what gender I was perceived as. She hated being thought of as a “straight” couple (for the record, I am not straight, although my [female] partner is). She was very happy about my lack of recognizable penis, about my largely androgynous body, and she was unwilling to recognize my masculinity as something real and concrete that existed outside of her choice to acknowledge it. She treated me like a stone butch–i.e. she felt like I should focus my energy on pleasing her–and when I felt like I could trust her enough to get sexual pleasure, she not-so-subtly hinted that I was less masculine. Ive seen similar behavior among female ftm-chasers (I don’t know why it couldn’t be so among men; I just haven’t seen it yet): an enjoyment of the vulnerability and power differential between their cisgendered (if not ideal for them) identification and their partner’s transness, sexual selfishness (I lived as stone for over a decade, with the attendant class oppression and shame–I see nothing to celebrate except the triumph of people doing the best they can), a great deal of condescension both toward trans people and toward straight people, and self-righteousness that to me is a complete anti-aphrodisiac. Combine that with poorly conceived and digested political theory that assumes that particular societal positions (being raised as male, being raised as female, being straight, being white) will automatically produce particular moral characteristics, and you have a pattern of assumptions and behavior that I find repugnant.

    Obviously, we are all contaminated by the beliefs of our culture. If one is a late-capitalist American, that means among other things that sexism, white supremacy, and homophobia are miasmatic around us. It is certainly easier to see the lies of these cultural poisons if one is a member of the stigmatized group (female, non-white, queer), but it is by no means universal or even close to universal that an oppressed person will see the lies or that a privileged person will buy into them. That’s probably the sole reason why these problems won’t go away quickly: you never know who’s on your side and who’s not or who has very complicated positions. Forgetting that fact is not only harmful to one’s cause, but it reduces everyone into two-dimensional neo-Marxist cutouts.

    For instance: I was raised female, as in my parents saw a girl, named me a girl’s name, and raised me in very gender-segregated and gender-normative ways in line with my race, age, class, religion, and region. Because of the kind of girl I was, however, I got different treatment than other girls I saw around me–I was never sexually harrassed (except in homophobic terms in high school), I was never not given the space and attention I deserved (in fact, I probably muscled lots of girls out of their rightful space), I never imagined my body in the ways that I have heard other women talk about as “the experience of being socialized as female.” I was violent. I was unafraid of men. I was called a failure as a woman with both scorn and (the faintest of) praise. I got different messages–all of them affected by sexism, of course, but different nonetheless–than many women did because my behavior prompted different responses. When I lived as a butch dyke, I found some butch women with similar experiences (all of whom either transitioned or lived as male in significant parts of their lives), but I had nothing to say to a lot of butches or other women. There was the expectation of shared experience, but it was pretty quickly disappointed. Now that I am a man, I’m not sure what if any positive effect my years as a woman have in my understanding of sexism and misogyny. If anything, I think my female history has given me more baggage to work through–because I was able to manipulate the system to give me at least a modicum of respect, it has been a great challenge for me to not be impatient with women who cannot or will not follow my lead.

    I fully believe that had I been assigned male at birth, I would have eventually come into feminist awareness as I have now–many (though sadly not all) of my cisgendered male friends and relatives have certainly realized the sexism pervading our society and worked to get rid of it. There is nothing about two X chromosomes that gives me a head start on enlightenment.

  76. alicepaul
    alicepaul May 11, 2007 at 3:29 pm |

    I’m a little dismayed and confused as to why, on a feminist blog, some recent commenters are insisting that they aren’t (or weren’t always) enlightened when it comes to the patriarchy/misogyny/sexism, and saying things like

    I probably muscled lots of girls out of their rightful spac

    e

    Why the need to assert/defend one’s current or previous sexism? Is that just another attempt by FTMs to differentiate themselves from women? Methinks thou doth protest too much!

    Sociologists and feminists have long argued that it is possible for someone to grow up without consciously realizing the effects of the culture on their psyches and experiences. This happens with every possible type of person – rich, poor, fat, thin, black, white, gay, straight, cisgendered and transgendered, etc. Oppression and privilege can be obvious, or they can be invisible. It isn’t a fun thing to come to terms with, because it means realizing that, sometimes, we don’t have the control to shape our own subconscious, fundemental ideas and thoughts, at least at first. The culture takes care of that for us, based on our social position.

    So just because a cisgndered male denies or wishes to surrender his privileged status, does not mean that it ceases to exist. The same goes for the oppressed status of people born female. Our personal identifications and sense of self do not erase the reality of who has the power in society.

  77. varanus
    varanus May 11, 2007 at 4:58 pm |

    What do you think I protest too much? That I am different from women, or from you? I don’t know that that needs any protesting at all–my experience in both my current and former lives is, I daresay, somewhat different from all and quite different from most. That I am not sexist/misogynist? Had you been reading my post, you would have noted that I’ve claimed no such thing:

    Obviously, we are all contaminated by the beliefs of our culture. If one is a late-capitalist American, that means among other things that sexism, white supremacy, and homophobia are miasmatic around us.

    and

    …my female history has given me more baggage to work through–because I was able to manipulate the system to give me at least a modicum of respect, it has been a great challenge for me to not be impatient with women who cannot or will not follow my lead.

    I don’t defend my current or previous sexism. I admit that it existed/exists. I work to end it, as I believe every man has the obligation to do. I do not believe that I have any special obligations in this regard. If the very utterance of one’s former beliefs and struggles against insidious prejudice are endorsements of those former beliefs and prejudice, I don’t know that useful conversations around these topics are possible.

    I know for certain, however, that for me, my feminism is in no way served by pretending to be a woman, or woman-like, or not-quite-male, or a case study in transgression.

  78. Em
    Em May 11, 2007 at 9:10 pm |

    Alicepaul, reading comprehension please.

    Shorter Varanus: A man of transsexual experience does not have the women’s experience that chasers attribute to trans men when they call them enlightened or other patronizing things for “knowing what it’s like.” In fact, some trans men have a hard time becoming feminists b/c the woman-directed justification offered to them don’t have any relevance to their actual experience.

    I see this come up way too often–the patronizing assumption that even when a transsexual man describes in detail his past and how utterly different it is from the generally agreed-upon female experience, someone will always be there to tell him, “No honey, you really did have a woman’s experience–you just don’t realize it, poor thing.”

    Really, this telling other people that they didn’t experience what they actually did experience, or vice versa, is classic othering. Own your experience. Let each and every trans person own theirs.

  79. varanus
    varanus May 11, 2007 at 9:33 pm |

    Huh. My response has mysteriously disappeared, but you nailed it for me, Em. Thank you.

  80. Cho is a chaser? - Tranny chasers in dyke communities « No Designation

    […] ll the time, but it seems that the conversation is getting wider. I encountered a post on feministe today (which was linked to from several trans communities I’m on), which i […]

  81. alicepaul
    alicepaul May 12, 2007 at 12:26 am |

    I’m not sure individuals who

    have a hard time becoming feminists

    really belong in a feminist space like this one.

  82. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 12:47 am |

    I’m not sure individuals who

    have a hard time becoming feminists

    really belong in a feminist space like this one.

    When their experiences, lives and realities are being discussed in such a dismissive and othering way, then yes they absolutely do belong.

  83. Jay in Chicago
    Jay in Chicago May 12, 2007 at 12:48 am |

    wow, alicepaul, what a flagrant example of selective quoting/quoting out of context.

  84. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 12:58 am |

    I’m a little dismayed and confused as to why, on a feminist blog, some recent commenters are insisting that they aren’t (or weren’t always) enlightened when it comes to the patriarchy/misogyny/sexism

    Are you serious? Do you really believe anyone was “always” enlightened when it comes to patriarchy/misogyny/sexism? The first step to overcoming the biases we all acquire from the culture we are raised in is to acknowledge them for what they are. You would do well to do the same with your anti-trans bais.

    Why the need to assert/defend one’s current or previous sexism? Is that just another attempt by FTMs to differentiate themselves from women? Methinks thou doth protest too much!

    Actually it seems to me that your comments are “just another attempt” to group trans men with women. Methinks thou doth protest too much!

  85. Drakyn
    Drakyn May 12, 2007 at 1:39 am |

    Just because some trans*men can have a hard time becoming feminists, doesn’t mean that they can’t become feminists. Nor does it mean all trans*men have a hard time being a feminist.
    A friend of mine has only ever wavered in his identification as a feminist because sometimes he has doubts as to whether a man should claim the label.
    My only reasons for not labeling myself as a feminist for a while were do to the words and actions of many of the “feminists” I read and met. I have since decided to reclaim that label because I do believe that all people deserve to be treated equally and with respect.

    And by the way, admitting that you used to have a problem or that you still have one, doesn’t make you incapable of being a feminist or posting in feminist orientated spaces. It just means that you know you still have work to do.

    Copy/pasted from one of my entries on a different journal, “Yes, my parents thought I was a girl until I told them differently, but I am still a man.
    Yes socialization plays a part in who I am.
    Socialization does not make up my whole being.”

    Tranny chasers are one of the groups who think that transmen and/or trans*women are all XYZ. Our experiences are actually very different. Our politics are actually very different. Our transition paths are different; meaning our bodies are different.
    Mind you, I have discovered that there are a lot of groups that think we all are the same and have the same thoughts and are all a part of the Borg.

  86. Kelsey
    Kelsey May 12, 2007 at 2:42 am |

    OK, Alicepaul, I have to tell you: as a woman, I’m so much more comfortable with Matt’s and Varanus’s perspective on these issues than I am with yours. I feel terribly infantilized by your position here: do you honestly think that women are such victims of culture that they can’t stand up to the scary, scary men (unless, of course, the scary, scary men have non-traditional genitals?) Because that’s how your post reads, and I take umbrage with that. I am nobody’s reed caught in a stream, and I love and respect men largely because I’ve never let myself feel inferior to them. Your “false consciousness” crap, and your, um, complex relationship with cisgendered men seems to say a lot more about you than it does it does about women and how they move through the world. Arguing that all men are the enemy and that the only thing women can do is avoid them, imo, misses the point.

    Varanus–full disclosure!–is my partner, and this is not because I’m some kind of secretly self-hating masochist who believes in the oppression of women. Sexist cultural conditions affect everyone, and I think he’s been quite honest here about the challenges he’s faced and the ways it has brought him around to a stronger kind of feminism. I value this honesty, and I think it’s a damn sight better than arguing that unless you’ve always managed to ignore sociocultural messages (which: really? Have you?) you’re not worth listening to.

    Piny, thanks a lot for starting this thread, and for your thoughtful and interesting discussion throughout. I’ve appreciated reading it.

  87. varanus
    varanus May 12, 2007 at 2:50 am |

    Thank you, Piny, for both the welcome and the thoughtful post. It’s been quite interesting to read the varied responses here to an issue that (despite my very strong feelings) has a multitude of perspectives.

    As far as feminism goes, I believe it to be a humane philosophy and one that is not the responsibility or the province of women alone. Of course it’s quite true that men are still unfairly privileged over women in most circumstances. A woman’s investment in feminism might seem more obvious and urgent, but sexism (and its obnoxious relatives homophobia, transphobia, violence, and gender-role anxiety) corrodes everyone it touches. Getting rid of unwanted legacies is a lifelong, maybe impossible project, but it’s something that I don’t think is avoidable for anyone. I don’t think it takes a “female socialization,” XX chromosomes, or the absence of a penis to figure that out.

  88. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 3:15 am |

    Trannyboy-

    I indentify as a transgendered male and I date women and I have encountered many who say that I, and boys like me, are the gender of their choice. Nothing wrong with that. I don’t think it’s a fetish, it’s simply a preference in gender.

    Except that trans people are not (necessarily) a separate gender. I am male, and my male gender is no different from any other male. If you feel that your male gender is somehow different, more power to you, but you need to speak for yourself on this issue.

    I think that perhaps Margaret just discovered that she might perhaps prefer the trans male gender.

    Again, my male gender is no different from any other male’s gender. My body is different in some respects, mostly due to my inability to access the surgery I need at this point. But that doesn’t mean that my gender is any different.

    I think it’s a little over the top to atatck her on this since she has been such a friend on the LGBT community and yes, is a friend to us.

    Some of the most virulent transphobia I’ve experienced has come from the LGBT community and allies. Being a “friend” to the “community” does not make one immune to gross behaviour and beliefs.

    Isn’t it wnough that she’s out there fighting the good fight on our behalf? Come on kids. Get with it.

    How is she fighting the good fight on our behalf? Examples?

    I’m glad that they’re are women out there who are “tranny-chasers”. Without that openness of gender preference (like gays and lesbians), I wouldn’t have a hope in the world of being able to find love, sex, intimacy, etc…

    Wow.. self hate much? Seriously, I think this is something you need to think about. There are nice people out there who will date you and care about you for who you are without treating you as a fetish object. You are setting yourself up for being taken advantage of.

    Let’s remember that not many straight women are attracted to transgendered men and that’s fine, because we are not the gender of their preference because, yes, we are not born biologically men and to deny that, is a diservice to yourself and to the community.

    Actually, there are plenty of straight women who will date trans men, because they are into men. We are, in fact, the “gender of their preference”.

    And, I was born biologically male. Speak for yourself.

    I don’t care how many trans men want to get away with lying to themselves about the fact that they are trans and “real men”…it’s a reality that you are a “transexual/transgendered man”, be proud of it. I am!

    So transsexual or transgender men are not real men? Wow, again, self hate much? What are you then, imaginary? I am not lying to myself, I am just as real and valid as any other man out there. I acknowledge the fact that I am a transsexual man, but that doesn’t mean I am not a real man.

    All I have to say is THANK GOD for TRANNY CHASERS!!!!

    Because a poor tranny like you couldn’t get a date otherwise? Who exactly is doing a disservice to the community here?

    We are a gender and people are attracted to us.

    Yep, my gender is male and plenty of people who are attracted to males in general are attracted to me.

  89. d.
    d. May 12, 2007 at 7:35 am |

    I’m not sure individuals who
    have a hard time becoming feminists
    really belong in a feminist space like this one.

    Huh. In some ways I’d argue that men who enter into feminist spaces should particularly be aware of and take responsibility for their experiences with and participations in sexism (as long as they don’t perpetuate those atttitudes in the descriptions of them). I would be very skeptical of any man who claimed *not* to have had to confront and deal with some serious issues on the way to developing feminist beliefs and attitudes.

    I’d rather a man say ‘i had some difficulties becoming aware of and then responding to the ways that sexism and privilege shaped my life’ than say ‘i’m a nice feminist guy! why won’t any women ever date me?’

    –And relating back to the topic thread at hand, that IME is one of the problems with people believing that trans men are inherently less sexist than cis men. If incorporated into a whole community sense of how things are, it often ends up allowing trans men to get away with and continue to fail to examine sexist beliefs and attitudes. Particularly if those beliefs continue after medical transition, this can result in things like a sense of entitlement without an awareness of it, including a sense of entitlement around entering women’s spaces in ways that can be hurtful to women in those spaces.

  90. Lynn Gazis-Sax
    Lynn Gazis-Sax May 12, 2007 at 9:26 am |

    I think that perhaps Margaret just discovered that she might perhaps prefer the trans male gender.

    More likely, she prefers a particular gender presentation that is common among a subset of trans men. I seriously doubt that she’s attracted to the entire “trans male gender.”

  91. Tranny Boy
    Tranny Boy May 12, 2007 at 10:46 am |

    “I seriously doubt that she’s attracted to the entire “trans male gender.”

    Why the doubt? When staright women are attracted to biological men, yes, they have preferences in style and personality and personal attributes, but as a whole, they are attracted to bilogical men.
    Why is it so hard to believe that some women (or men/tranny’s for that matter) are solely attracted to trans men?

    If you see us outside of being a gender than it’s time that you re-examine how you view trans people.

    I worked with a M t F sex worker who told me that the biggest discovery she made about how straight men who were her customers who she believed had a transexual woman “fetish”, was that in fact, they were attracted to MTF’s but they felt that society wouldn’t understand it and they couldn’t deal with the stigma.

    There are too many judgements being made here by binary thinkers.

    There are so many different genders…male, female, trans-male/female, midle sex, and yes….MORE!

    It’s ok that some people are simply attracted to one of those.

    What is this crap about “gender presentation”?

    Does this mean that if you wear pants and basebal hat and a baggy t-shirt but still identify as a woman that you have a “MALE” gender representation?

    Y’all need to start thinking a little more with your hearts and put your heads a little more to rest.

    And besides, Margaret never called it a “fetish” the journalist did.

  92. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 2:19 pm |

    Why the doubt? When staright women are attracted to biological men, yes, they have preferences in style and personality and personal attributes,

    So they aren’t attracted to all non-trans men. Just like M isn’t attracted to all trans men.

    but as a whole, they are attracted to bilogical men.

    Like I said above, I am a “biological man”. Speak. For. Yourself.

    Why is it so hard to believe that some women (or men/tranny’s for that matter) are solely attracted to trans men?

    And how, exactly, do you separate trans men to be solely attracted to them? Do you see some hot guy in the street and say, “wow, I’m getting a definite dickless/assigned-female-at-birth vibe from him, he’s hawt!” Seriously, think about what you’re saying.

    If you see us outside of being a gender than it’s time that you re-examine how you view trans people.

    And if you see (all of) us as being a completely separate gender, then it’s time for YOU to re-examine how you view trans people.

    There are so many different genders…male, female, trans-male/female, midle sex, and yes….MORE!

    You’re right. Except you’re deciding for other people where they belong in that list. My. Gender. Is. MALE. Nothing more, nothing less.

    It’s ok that some people are simply attracted to one of those.

    Of course. The problem starts when it’s assumed that by virtue of my assigned gender I automatically belong in a category I don’t actually belong to. How is that any different from “assigned female at birth” automatically equals “girl”?

    What is this crap about “gender presentation”?

    Does this mean that if you wear pants and basebal hat and a baggy t-shirt but still identify as a woman that you have a “MALE” gender representation?

    No, it means that FTM chasers tend to be interested in FTMs with a certain presentation, and not FTMs as a whole.

    Y’all need to start thinking a little more with your hearts and put your heads a little more to rest.

    Right, because, god forbid we actually think about this.

    And besides, Margaret never called it a “fetish” the journalist did.

    If the shoe fits…

  93. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 2:23 pm |

    that IME is one of the problems with people believing that trans men are inherently less sexist than cis men. If incorporated into a whole community sense of how things are, it often ends up allowing trans men to get away with and continue to fail to examine sexist beliefs and attitudes.

    Yes! Thank you.

  94. Drakyn
    Drakyn May 12, 2007 at 2:46 pm |

    Tranny Boy, no one said there isn’t a continuum of gender identity. We did say that there are plenty of trans*people who just identify as men or women; not transmen or transwomen. For us, being trans* is a biological reality, yes, but it doesn’t affect our gender identity.
    Not all trans*people are the same.
    Some of us identify as men, others as women. And still there are others that identify as various other identities such as genderqueer, trannyboi, trannygrrl, etc.

    What is this crap about “gender presentation”?

    Does this mean that if you wear pants and basebal hat and a baggy t-shirt but still identify as a woman that you have a “MALE” gender representation?

    Yes. A person’s gender expression does not have to fit society’s expected sex/gender role. ie: A trans*woman can be so masculine and butch that she “out-butches” lumber jacks, but her gender identity can be female. A trans*guy who identifies as a guy can be a completely flaming faery, but he still identifies as a man.
    A woman can have a masculine gender expression and a man can have a feminine gender expression.
    And any combination of gender and gender expression can happen.

    Even if Ms. Cho isn’t a trannychaser, there are still people out there who objectify us and we can have a discussion about them.

    PS: I am a biological man. I believe that my transsexuality is biologically based. Therefore, my sex is transsexual male and my gender is male. My gender expression tends to change between geek, dandy, and faery.

  95. Miranda
    Miranda May 12, 2007 at 3:35 pm |

    Drakyn, I think you explained sex vs gender in kind of a confusing way. To clarify:

    sex is a spectrum ranging from male to female. Gender is a spectrum ranging from masculine to feminine. The two are not connected. A person can be physically male (bio or trans) but have a feminine gender presentation. I am a tomboy, so I am biologically/physically female, but somewhat masculine in my gender presentation.

    Does this help anyone who may have been confused?

  96. Drakyn
    Drakyn May 12, 2007 at 3:44 pm |

    Actually, I see gender as gender identity, ie: what you identify as. While gender expression is how you present, ie: how masculine, feminine, etc. you are.
    Gender identity has nothing to do with how masculine, feminine, etc. you are.

  97. Lynn Gazis-Sax
    Lynn Gazis-Sax May 12, 2007 at 3:47 pm |

    Why the doubt? When staright women are attracted to biological men, yes, they have preferences in style and personality and personal attributes, but as a whole, they are attracted to bilogical men.

    Generally only to a narrow slice of men, though. Same deal for people attracted to women.

    If you see us outside of being a gender than it’s time that you re-examine how you view trans people.

    The problem with that is that some of you are adamantly telling me that you aren’t a separate gender, but are men or women, plain and simple. So, “separate gender” seems to be a subset of “transsexual,” rather than the whole group.

    What is this crap about “gender presentation”?

    She says she’s attracted to transsexuals with a particular gender presentation (she doesn’t use the actual phrase, but that’s what I get from her description of what attracts her). She says she’s attracted to FtoM transsexuals who are actually sort of FtoX; in other words, specifically to those ones who aim for a sort of androgyny, rather than fully trying to pass as men.

    Does this mean that if you wear pants and basebal hat and a baggy t-shirt but still identify as a woman that you have a “MALE” gender representation?

    Well, that woman in the pants and baseball hat and baggy t-shirt would often be me, actually, if I’m not at work. And I do identify as a woman. I wouldn’t exactly say I have a “MALE” gender expression, even when I’m in that baseball hat and baggy t-shirt and hiking boots (maybe masculine or butch, but not male). But it is a different female gender presentation than the one where you wear high heels and lipstick and such. And if I say that women in pants and baseball hats and baggy t-shirts are what I find sexy, then part of what I’m attracted to is a particular gender presentation.

  98. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm |

    Miranda,

    sex is a spectrum ranging from male to female. Gender is a spectrum ranging from masculine to feminine. The two are not connected. A person can be physically male (bio or trans) but have a feminine gender presentation.

    Some people find the idea that trans people are somehow not biological to be offensive. I feel, very strongly, that there is something that makes me biologically male, and that it is the same thing that makes non-trans men biologically male at their core. And, I also very strongly feel that your reproductive system is not the only or most important variable that determines your sex. My true sex (ie, this abstraction we call “gender identity”) has always been male, but the condition I was born with caused my reproductive system to develop in a female direction.

    And, gender is not the same thing as gender expression or presentation. I think “gender”, the way it is usually used, is a combination of gender identity and expression.

  99. Matt
    Matt May 12, 2007 at 7:02 pm |

    The problem with that is that some of you are adamantly telling me that you aren’t a separate gender, but are men or women, plain and simple. So, “separate gender” seems to be a subset of “transsexual,” rather than the whole group.

    Yes, thank you. I don’t understand why this is so hard for some people to grasp.

    Also, I know the lines can’t be drawn clearly, but in my experience the “separate gender” people tend to be a much less common subset of “transsexual” than “transgender”.

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