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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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394 Responses

  1. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb July 31, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    I can’t believe the letter writer even thinks that it might me her place to out her cousin. She should feel guilty, but not for the reasons she gives!

  2. Gerry Dorrian
    Gerry Dorrian July 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

    I agree – if Juliette has had the surgery, then she doesn’t have anything that boyfriend will find surprising, should the time come. If she hasn’t then, trust me, boyfriend knows.

  3. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

    I know of more than one married trans woman whose husband doesn’t know about her past. It happens. Yes, they disclose that they can’t have children, but why is there necessarily an obligation to disclose the particular reason? It’s easy for cis people to say, “oh, you wouldn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t accept you,” but sometimes trans women don’t exactly have a multitude of partners available to them. And not infrequently they’re completely estranged from their families, not of their own volition. So Prudie’s comment about visits to the family and looking at childhood photo albums? Not so relevant when your family threw you out when you were a teenager. Talk about a sickening degree of privilege not to have that occur to her.

    I can’t imagine being married to someone or in an important relationship with someone without being able to talk about my childhood or my family background,* but that has to be everyone’s individual choice, not an obligation. Nobody has a right to know every single thing about their spouse’s past, and unless you think that having a trans history is the equivalent of having a contagious fatal illness, being trans isn’t one of the things someone does have a right to know. Because if they were attracted enough to a trans woman to marry her, then, guess what, they’re attracted to trans women, and any claims to the contrary are necessarily based on prejudice.

    *It’s all pretty much academic in my case; it’s precisely the whole disclosure issue that constitutes the primary reason I haven’t dated (or tried to) in the 6 1/2 years since my most recent partner broke up with me shortly after my transition.

  4. matlun
    matlun July 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

    I am not sure I think Prudie’s advice is that bad. Advice her to tell him but also assure her that if she doesn’t he will not hear about it from you. That sounds fairly reasonable to me. At the very least much better than many other Prudie responses.

  5. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm |

    I should have added: obviously, if I don’t think that “Juliette” herself has a moral obligation to disclose her history to “John” or that John has “a right to know the crucial piece of history,” then Juliette shouldn’t even be thinking of disclosing her history. It’s up to Juliette to make that decision, nobody else. I don’t even really like it when people who are friends of mine who “know” about me convey that information to their own friends whom I don’t even know, even though it isn’t my place to ask them not to. The idea of someone giving that information to a person I was dating, without my permission, is rather upsetting.

    Believe me, I know there are plenty people who believe that trans people have a disclosure obligation before they ever go out with anyone, and that having sex with someone without such disclosure constitutes sexual assault. (It was the number of people agreeing with that proposition on a Feministing thread a few years ago that suggested to me, even before the Mary Daly fiasco, that it was time to leave that place.)

    And if anyone here thinks that a trans woman in Juliette’s position does have a disclosure obligation, I always wonder if you’d be equally insistent that someone tell a person they’re dating that they were assigned a different religion at birth than whatever they are now. (You never told your partner that you used to be a Jew???? Ewww, gross!) Or a different race, for that matter. Or that they were married before. And so on. But I guess a trans history is different, and we should all have scarlet T’s stamped on our foreheads in case we “deceive” someone.

  6. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm |

    Sigh. I meant: then Juliette’s cousin shouldn’t be thinking, etc.

  7. Nico
    Nico July 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

    If “Juliette” wants her boyfriend to know, then it’s her decision to make, in full awareness, as she no doubt is, of the risks of inadvertent revelation.

    Notice how Prudie focuses on the “right” of others to know, but doesn’t give any weight to, much less mention, Juliette’s right to privacy (that phrase again) or what it might mean to her to be *perceived* as who she is and knows herself to be… especially in an intimate context… which can be the ultimate test of self-acceptance and acceptance by others… perception being a function not just of “look and feel” but of knowledge.

    Notice also how the fact that he “does not want kids anyway so she has no reason to tell him” speaks to reproductive capacity as a measure of her authenticity as a woman.

  8. Comradde PhysioProffe
    Comradde PhysioProffe July 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm |

    Dear Prudence is so abysmally fucken badde, I read her shitte just to get my blood boiling if I’m in the mood for that. All of her advice is built on the foundation of grotesque 1950s heteronormative nuclear family bullshitte that she polishes with fake acceptance of LGBT people.

    In that same column that Jill quotes from, she went all shittenuttes because a little kid at a sleepover party barged into the host’s parents’ bedroom while they were fuckeing, arguing that the parents showed “poor judgment” in daring to fucke while little kids were in the house. The parents of the barger called the parents of the host irate that their child had been “exposed” to such horrific behavior. The only correct advice in this instance is “people fucke. get over it.”

    Can you feel my blood boiling?? lolz

  9. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm |

    Prudie , , , doesn’t give any weight to, much less mention, Juliette’s right to privacy (that phrase again) or what it might mean to her to be *perceived* as who she is and knows herself to be… especially in an intimate context… which can be the ultimate test of self-acceptance and acceptance by others… perception being a function not just of “look and feel” but of knowledge.

    That’s a good point. I’ve never been in anything like that situation, but I can appreciate even casual interactions with people who don’t know my history, and perceive me only as who I am, without being influenced in any way by knowledge of my former incarnation. Yes, there are people who (I truly believe) perceive me as myself even though they do know about my history, but it’s nice sometimes not to even have to wonder what someone really thinks. Although it’s usually easier for me emotionally, if I think I would ever want to disclose to someone, for them to know before I ever meet them. Because the danger of violence or outright hostility aside, it isn’t really fun to disclose to someone and see the way they look at me change visibly and immediately, even as they’re trying to hide their negative reaction. And that’s in an entirely non-romantic context.

  10. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |

    I always wonder if you’d be equally insistent that someone tell a person they’re dating that they were assigned a different religion at birth than whatever they are now. (You never told your partner that you used to be a Jew???? Ewww, gross!) Or a different race, for that matter. Or that they were married before. And so on

    Uh, actually, no, I would want to know if a partner had been married before, though the rest would be irrelevant. Sorry, but former marriages and kids are two things that really damn NEED disclosing, because of legal/emotional issues with exes and/or kids. People need to know what sort of dating history their partners have, at least in outline.

    (I like to think I’m ally enough that a trans person would feel comfortable disclosing their history to me, but I don’t really give a shit if they don’t ever want to disclose in general – as opposed to JUST me. I’d worry about being perceived as transphobic.)

  11. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon July 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm |

    @Mcavitykitsune,

    ” Sorry, but former marriages and kids are two things that really damn NEED disclosing, because of legal/emotional issues with exes and/or kids. People need to know what sort of dating history their partners have, at least in outline.”

    I don’t require that type of disclosure because frankly, to me it’s not a deal breaker. I’m not dating their old partners so why the hell would I care? That’s a rehtorical question, by the by – don’t try to answer it as our views are obviously differing. Whatever reasonings you have for yourself aren’t important to me in my dating life.

    In other news I find it not at all surprising cis people feel the pressing need to weigh in on things that don’t involve them.

  12. konkonsn
    konkonsn July 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

    When I think of why people would want to know this information, the only response I can think of is that they’d want to know it is because of transphobia. The letter writer feels guilty about John…why? Guilt is the product of when you hurt someone. What harm does she think is happening to him? If you look at the answer(s) she would give, they’d all be something to do with gender roles or transphobic perceptions.

    I mean, I could see it as wanting to know your partner better and share their past, but then, if the person isn’t transphobic, there shouldn’t be an issue. Because I like to think a real trans* ally would know why a person would be afraid to share it.

  13. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

    OK, I acknowledge that, especially if someone has children from a previous marriage. Then again, I can certainly think of situations where it wouldn’t be fair to expect someone to disclose a previous marriage — it was 20 years ago, no kids, the marriage lasted for 5 minutes, no legal issues or financial obligations, and they don’t know if their former spouse is alive or dead and don’t care (I know a couple of people who have no idea whether long-ago short-term former spouses are still alive or, if so, where they are, because there were no kids, and there was no contact since the divorce). That’s the kind of situation I was thinking of.

  14. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon July 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm |

    Forgot the rest of the post, sorry.

    The shorter version wrt marriage and kids would be that I think their issues with exes and children are just that – their issues. If they want them to become my issues, they’ll have to let me know. Until then, it’s none of my business.

    “(I like to think I’m ally enough that a trans person would feel comfortable disclosing their history to me, but I don’t really give a shit if they don’t ever want to disclose in general – as opposed to JUST me. I’d worry about being perceived as transphobic.)”

    Transphobia is only one of many, many reasons not to disclose. My personal favorite reason for not disclosing (when I’m not being actively noticed) is that I dislike dealing with cis people’s ideas on gender, sex and performance (or lack thereof) in general. I don’t have spoons to constantly teach, nor the energy to wonder if someone’s acting just – so – because of my being trans. Or disabled. Or, well, y’get the idea. Less of a headache that way.

  15. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm |

    it was 20 years ago, no kids, the marriage lasted for 5 minutes, no legal issues or financial obligations, and they don’t know if their former spouse is alive or dead and don’t care

    Yeah, see, those wouldn’t bother me. Waking up in the middle of the night to find my current’s ex screaming obscenities from the front yard while hacking my pets to pieces? That would. That was more the kind of thing I was thinking about.

    Transphobia is only one of many, many reasons not to disclose.

    Well, that’s… why I mentioned that I would worry that they were perceiving me as such, as opposed to being worried that they were “deceiving” me or whatever. As someone in an interracial relationship, if my wife were constantly fisheyeing me about whether I was being secretly racist, I know it would put a strain on us.

  16. tarian
    tarian July 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    Yeah, to my mind, the extent of disclosure “required” of a trans* person in a het relationship is in the conversation where hir partner takes a stand pro-bio-children. In which case zie merely says zie can’t have kids, and then the conversation moves on to adoption or surrogacy or perhaps this is not a long-term relationship. Trans panic is still a thing. I’d like it if learning that someone you know and love is trans were pretty much on the same level as learning that’s not hir original hair color, but that world isn’t this one.

  17. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm |

    The shorter version wrt marriage and kids would be that I think their issues with exes and children are just that – their issues. If they want them to become my issues, they’ll have to let me know. Until then, it’s none of my business.

    Well, yes, but there are legal tangles, etc. I think if someone were to lol-co-sign you on to, say, several years’ back-pay of child support for a kid you didn’t know existed, or “forget” to tell you about the two thousand a month in alimony they’re getting from their spouse while you’re working two jobs to support them, they’re making it your issue whether you want to or not. And that’s independent of the physical threats exes can pose to you in case of abusive former relationships, etc. tl;dr if it doesn’t impact you, sure, but if it does physically/financially cause you problems in potentia then you have a right to know. It’s different, because being trans doesn’t cause money/health problems to trans people’s cis partners; transphobia and transphobic bigots do.

  18. TMK
    TMK July 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm |

    I can’t believe the letter writer even thinks that it might me her place to out her cousin. She should feel guilty, but not for the reasons she gives!

    That’s because there is nothing in the letter nor in Prudie response that implies that. I don’t know why Jill choose this title for her post here, but it’s misrepresenting the actual letter somewhat.

  19. David
    David July 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm |

    @Donna L,

    I don’t even really like it when people who are friends of mine who “know” about me convey that information to their own friends whom I don’t even know, even though it isn’t my place to ask them not to.

    Why in the world isn’t it your place to insist that your privacy be respected? I find it appalling that anyone thinks it’s their place to share such personal information about you with anyone, whether you know them or not. It’s not theirs to share, full stop. There’s no excuse for treating trans* people as a “special” exception who have no right to medical privacy, and we need to stop making excuses for other people’s bad behavior.

    Outstanding post.

  20. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    There’s no excuse for treating trans* people as a “special” exception who have no right to medical privacy

    This. As someone who’s routinely had her privacy utterly fucking invaded (as in, private correspondence published with full name and identifying information and my consent retroactively shamed out of me), I don’t think there’s some special “you must disclose X, you need not disclose Y” when it comes to gender history. The exceptions? a) Communicable diseases and b) fertility or lack thereof (not disclosing infertility is reproductive coercion of a different kind imo, but what do I know, I’m infertile and overjoyed by it). Of course, in this letter that isn’t a consideration, so what the fuck is the problem the LW is having?

    I mean, when I stop and think about it, I’ve had the basic privilege of everyone treating me as the gender I AM, including prospective/current partners. Why should someone forgo that just because they’re trans?

  21. Chiara
    Chiara July 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm |

    The exceptions? a) Communicable diseases and b) fertility or lack thereof (not disclosing infertility is reproductive coercion of a different kind imo, but what do I know, I’m infertile and overjoyed by it).

    uh why is someone required to disclose infertility (I mean unless they’re trying to get pregnant in which case it would save everyone some time…) ?

  22. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb July 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    I don’t even really like it when people who are friends of mine who “know” about me convey that information to their own friends whom I don’t even know, even though it isn’t my place to ask them not to.

    Why in the world isn’t it your place to insist that your privacy be respected?

    Seconded!
    I mean, I understand talking about a friend’s personal situation where one gives details of a situation, but without identifying the person they’re talking about, but personal info about you–by name!– is your personal business that need not be shared. You’re friends don’t get a free pass to gossip about you, regardless of how novel the topic may be to them.
    There’s a big difference between casually mentioning “I actually know someone who’s trans and she finds some people can be judgmental,” and “Oh, you know that lady I work with, Donna? She’s trans and she says some people can be judgmental.*”

    *Not to put words in your mouth, Donna!

  23. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb July 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm |

    TMK

    I can’t believe the letter writer even thinks that it might me her place to out her cousin. She should feel guilty, but not for the reasons she gives!

    That’s because there is nothing in the letter nor in Prudie response that implies that. I don’t know why Jill choose this title for her post here, but it’s misrepresenting the actual letter somewhat.

    Um, the letter writer said she felt guilty around “john” because she hasn’t “outed” her cousin to him, and she feels she ought to. I think she should feel guilty for even considering violating her cousin’s privacy.

  24. Tina
    Tina July 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

    I’ll keep this short and sweet:

    This topic always seems to have more vehement, stalwart defenders and righteous fury from people who aren’t trans. Seems like when a friend brings it up, and I give my opinion on my own disclosures while dating…for some reason my own thoughts aren’t enough justification. Just an observation.

  25. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable July 31, 2012 at 9:27 pm |

    Same question, Donna.

    There are plenty of things my friends know about me that don’t embarrass me, but I’d still rather they not shout about them to anyone – my PTSD is an example. It doesn’t embarrass me, but I know idiots buy into the stigma around it, so I’d rather they don’t pre-judge me for it.

  26. David
    David July 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm |

    It’s entirely up to the individual, I think is the point. If someone feels that disclosing information about themselves is the right thing to do, then it is. The “right” time for a trans person to disclose their history to someone they are dating is at exactly the moment the trans person thinks it is. Nobody else gets to have a say about that.

  27. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm |

    Why in the world isn’t it your place to insist that your privacy be respected?

    You’re all probably right, but I guess I never thought about it that way. I’m usually reluctant to ask, partly because I’m afraid that people will ignore the request and I’ll be disappointed if I ever find out, and partly because if I don’t know somebody that well, I’m concerned that they might think I was being presumptuous to suggest that they not tell someone they’re close to, like their spouse, or parent, or friends to whom they’re closer than they are to me.

    So for the most part I don’t ask, let alone insist, and even though it would be nice if people asked permission or waited until I gave permission, I certainly don’t hold it against someone if I haven’t asked them not to tell anyone, and they do so — as long as they keep it to a small circle and don’t spread the news all over the neighborhood and tell everyone including the mailman, like an ex of mine did.

  28. Noadi
    Noadi July 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

    I think you certainly should disclose trans status at some point. If marriage or living together is a serious possibility then it should be disclosed just like any major medical condition because if an emergency happens and the person can’t communicate with medical personnel then their partner needs to be able to. Hormone replacement can interact with certain other drugs, scar tissue from bottom surgery might impede placing a catheter, and any number of other issues that could interfere with medical treatment.

    That said, it’s absolutely no one else’s business when a trans person chooses to disclose and no one should out someone else.

  29. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

    I should add that this issue only comes up for me with friends. Fortunately, it never comes up anymore at work, where I never, ever, ever mention my history and nobody has brought it up to me in a long time, either on purpose or by referring to me with the wrong pronoun. There are plenty of people still there from before I transitioned 7 1/2 years ago, and plenty of others who’ve only known me as myself and don’t (so far as I know) know about my history. I’d certainly like to think that nobody in the former group has ever mentioned it to anyone in the latter group. If they have, I’d probably rather not know about it.

  30. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm |

    uh why is someone required to disclose infertility (I mean unless they’re trying to get pregnant in which case it would save everyone some time…) ?

    That’s exactly why. There’s no other reason, other than to not leave someone who desperately wants kids, who might leave a relationship if they knew of fertility, in an eternal state of “trying really hard and really depressed by the lack of results”. That’s just unfair.

  31. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 10:12 pm |

    Donna,

    FWIW I keep secrets of my parents from my wife, secrets of my wife from my parents, secrets from my childhood friends from both of them, and I’m certainly not under any impression that my wife SHOULD tell me things about her friends that she knows they wouldn’t want me knowing, for whatever reason. It’s absolutely not presumptuous to expect your privacy to be respected. I reckon you’re being too polite, tbh, by not asking.

  32. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

    The thing is, most trans people I’ve known who’ve had the privilege (as some see it) to choose not to disclose their history, do so anyway, at some point, to their partners, to close friends, etc.

    So I believe that any trans person who decides not to disclose isn’t doing so unthinkingly, and isn’t doing so out of ignorance of the risks (medical or otherwise) of not disclosing, but probably has thought about it a lot, and has very good reasons for not disclosing. And it isn’t really my place to second-guess anyone and tell them what they “should” be doing.

    Especially if they disclose to their doctor, as necessary. (And the situations requiring disclosure for medical reasons aren’t as all-encompassing as one might think. Even doctors don’t always need to know. As just one example, I don’t mention my history when I go for a mammogram; it simply isn’t relevant. (Not to mention that there are certain radiology centers in New York that won’t do a mammogram for a trans women if they find out about her history.)

  33. igglanova
    igglanova July 31, 2012 at 10:47 pm |

    Not to mention that there are certain radiology centers in New York that won’t do a mammogram for a trans women if they find out about her history.

    I don’t have much to add to the general conversation that hasn’t already been said, but damn is that ever some horseshit.

  34. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |

    Waking up in the middle of the night to find my current’s ex screaming obscenities from the front yard while hacking my pets to pieces?

    I really, really hope that’s just your vivid imagination, macavity!

  35. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune July 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |

    I really, really hope that’s just your vivid imagination, macavity!

    *lol* It hasn’t happened to me, no, but my family has some horror stories, I’ll tell ya…

    (Though bunny boilings haven’t been involved. Thank fuck.)

    (Not to mention that there are certain radiology centers in New York that won’t do a mammogram for a trans women if they find out about her history.)

    Wow.

    Just fucking WOW.

    I am so sorry. D:

  36. Jennifer
    Jennifer July 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

    The only reason I’d say Juliette has to disclose is because boyfriends are likely to meet your family members, and god knows it’s likely that once that happens, one way or another he’ll find out. It’s one thing to not mention it to the coworkers, it’s quite another to have to hide every detail about your childhood–or ask your relatives to do it for you, and expecting that’ll work. I think at some point, someone’s gonna slip up (or idiot cousin will insist on blabbing, like s/he clearly wants to) and he’ll find out that way. And it’s better that he hear it from Juliette herself.

    And I understand trans panic, but I think I’d rather end up with a guy who can deal with all of me and all of the truth of me. I don’t want to be with someone who I genuinely think or know would run screaming from me or hit me if he knew the truth. I could never relax in such a relationship.

    I think Prudie is on some kind of crack fairly frequently, but she seems to be answering from a point of practicality on this one. Ditto the sleepover sex situation– kids are gonna wander in the dark and do unexpected shit at a slumber party, period, and you can’t stop it. I wouldn’t have nookie with a bunch of kids over either. Why they didn’t lock the door, on the other hand, is a good point.

  37. Donna L
    Donna L July 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm |

    Thankfully, I don’t think the place I go is like that, but I’d rather not test my belief, so whenever I get to the part of the form that asks things like when my last period was, I always “forget” to fill it out.

    The excuse I’ve heard for the policy some places have is not that they’re bigoted (of course not!), but that they “don’t know how” to read mammograms for trans women, and “aren’t trained or qualified to do so.” Even though from everything I’ve read, there’s no difference,

    Sadly, “we don’t know how to treat people like you” and “we’ve never had someone like you as a patient before” are common excuses for discrimination against trans people by medical providers. The last time I heard those words said to me, not long after my GRS, I was already hospitalized at Mt. Sinai in New York with severe post-surgical complications not directly related to the surgery itself — I was brought by ambulance to the ER all the way from Montreal — and they couldn’t very well throw me out on the street. Even if they were afraid to do things like take out my catheter after 10 days or so, because “what if we can’t figure out how to put it back if we need to?”

  38. suspect class
    suspect class July 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm |

    Especially if they disclose to their doctor, as necessary. (And the situations requiring disclosure for medical reasons aren’t as all-encompassing as one might think. Even doctors don’t always need to know. As just one example, I don’t mention my history when I go for a mammogram; it simply isn’t relevant. (Not to mention that there are certain radiology centers in New York that won’t do a mammogram for a trans women if they find out about her history.)

    Yes, this. Disclosing trans status can often be an impediment to medical care, not an assist.

  39. suspect class
    suspect class July 31, 2012 at 11:18 pm |

    I’ll keep this short and sweet:

    This topic always seems to have more vehement, stalwart defenders and righteous fury from people who aren’t trans. Seems like when a friend brings it up, and I give my opinion on my own disclosures while dating…for some reason my own thoughts aren’t enough justification. Just an observation.

    Tina, I’m not sure what you’re saying here. Are you saying that cis folks are more invested than you’re comfortable with in trans people’s right not to disclose their status while dating? Because that hasn’t been my experience, but I’d be interested to hear about it if that’s your experience.

  40. Chiara
    Chiara August 1, 2012 at 12:07 am |

    That’s exactly why. There’s no other reason, other than to not leave someone who desperately wants kids, who might leave a relationship if they knew of fertility, in an eternal state of “trying really hard and really depressed by the lack of results”. That’s just unfair.

    maybe I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying that infertile people were obligated disclose their infertility at the start any romantic relationship

  41. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 1, 2012 at 1:45 am |

    It’s up to trans people whether they wish to disclose, on an individual basis.

    Nobody has the right to know whether their partner was born prematurely, what their precise racial mix is, whether they were breast or formula fed, or used to revel in painting the walls of their nursery with their own poo either.

    Some people who haven’t had bottom surgery, or who’ve opted for an alternative to vaginoplasty or phalloplasty, may have to disclose to partners they intend on getting naked with, but “It’s a birth defect” can work just as well in some cases too.

    I know men who’ve had the Centurion procedure, and others who chose metoidioplasty, and their status is never challenged or questioned. I know a couple of women who either only opted for vulvoplasty (external features only, no neovagina), or who suffered from complications that led to their vagina ending up as a ‘blind’ vagina, who are never read as trans.

    One of the women was even outed by a family member, and their partner laughed it off with “I’ve been down there often enough, I think I’d have realised”. When the outed woman. disclosed to her partner (that night) he said he’d actually suspected for a while, but that it wasn’t his business to ask outright. He had however, taken great pleasure in denying the malicious ‘outer’ the satisfaction of getting a reaction out of him.

    We cis people have enough power as it is, we don’t get to call the shots on disclosure. Prudie fails, as usual.

  42. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon August 1, 2012 at 1:58 am |

    I think it might be that cis folks are more than comfortable being invested in what trans people do with ourselves, period. Everyone’ll listen to a cis persons’ opinion on us, but our opinion on what we’re thinking/doing ourselves – most people couldn’t are less. Some opinions are ‘more equal’ than others.

  43. yes
    yes August 1, 2012 at 3:24 am |

    There is one persistent question that bothers me about this issue, where I’m mostly in the “that’s between her and him so butt out” camp otherwise. How do you factor in the idea that he might not consent to sexual activity with a trans woman, but would consent to sex with someone he/she didn’t know was trans?

  44. yes
    yes August 1, 2012 at 3:25 am |

    My bad, should be just “he” above. Initially asked the question as broader, decided to make it just about this case.

  45. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 1, 2012 at 3:46 am |

    How do you factor in the idea that he might not consent to sexual activity with a trans woman, but would consent to sex with someone he/she didn’t know was trans?

    Everyone is entitled to condition their consent to sex based on any factor they deem relevant – even if those factors are transphobic, racist, sexist, or otherwise fucked up. At the same time, a person cannot know the conditions on consent unless the other person has made those conditions clear. In addition, no one should ever be required to disclose every part of their history to anyone ever.

    So as a practical matter, if it is a big enough factor that Bob would not have sex with someone based on the fact that they once owned a kitten named Ronald Reagan, then Bob would have to make that clear as a condition of hir consent. Bob’s potential sexual partner (assuming they are free to walk away from the relationship and are not otherwise coerced) may decide not to continue the relationship because they know Bob wouldn’t consent to sex with them given their history or because Bob’s obsession with naming rules for pets isn’t their cup of tea. In either event, Bob’s consent is respected and the other person’s privacy is respected.

  46. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 1, 2012 at 4:10 am |

    Yes – he’s seeking sex with a woman, she’s a woman. Where’s the issue?

    If he’s so ciscentric that the thought of trans people being in his life never occurs to him, and he never says “Hey, I’m kind of a transphobe, so before we fuck can I ask if you were AMAB?”, then tough.

  47. igglanova
    igglanova August 1, 2012 at 4:11 am |

    yes @ 40: Honestly, I’ve never seen a discussion on this issue where anyone really settled the question. It would be much more clear-cut in a just world – if that person would not have sex with you if they knew what secret you were keeping from them, then whatever consent you can obtain was not freely given. (I include all kinds of secrets here; trans* status should not be a special stigma.) I hasten to add that a bit of personal secrecy is inevitable – a secret only becomes morally suspect when disclosure would turn a ‘yes’ into a resounding ‘no.’

    But. We don’t live in a just world. We live in the kind of climate where disclosure of trans* status has literally gotten people killed. As it stands, a blanket feminist code of conduct (or whatever) against attempting to pass as cis in a romantic relationship would force trans* people to undertake unacceptable risk.

    Personally, I don’t see a way out of this dilemma. It seems the only practical thing anyone can do is reserve judgement, and keep up the plodding task of advancing social change until the dilemma ceases to exist.

  48. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 1, 2012 at 4:18 am |

    Also Yes, while we’re here, why don’t we wring our hands about the guy who’s about to sleep with his new girlfriend. He doesn’t know it, but her grandmother is black.

    What if he doesn’t want to sleep with someone who’s not from all white stock for at least five generations back?

    He’d be fine with her if it wasn’t for her grandma though.

  49. Russkii
    Russkii August 1, 2012 at 6:40 am |

    People ought to disclose all information which could influence their potential partner’s decision whether to enter a relationship with them (whether a one night stand or something more serious). This is only fair. Clearly, for many people the question of their partner’s birth gender would be a deal breaker. This must be heartbreaking for transgendered people but I do not think that this trumps the partner’s right to have the information on which they will base this important decision.

    Also, the fact that many people view this question as a deal breaker means that it is different than some comparisons cited here: nose job when eighteen, a marriage from twenty years ago, your religion at birth, your grandma’s race, and so on. For most people this would not be a deal breaker.

    Thus, the letter writer should urge her cousin to disclose the information to her partner but she should not of course reveal this information herself because it is none of her business

  50. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 1, 2012 at 6:48 am |

    It’s simple. She should tell him, or somebody “helpful” will tell him instead. It’s only a matter of time, nothing else.

  51. Louise McCudden (@LouMcCudden)
    Louise McCudden (@LouMcCudden) August 1, 2012 at 7:58 am |

    I’d feel hurt and sad if my partner was trans and didn’t tell me. But I would assume it to be my fault, for somehow not actually making them know they can trust me. I’d feel at least partly guilty that they didn’t know they could share this part of themselves with me.

    I am bisexual though so can’t say how this would work for a gay or straight person.

    From the sound of the people around her, and given that this is Juliette’s first relationship since transition, I don’t blame her at all for being a tiny little bit nervous about coming out.

    I hate this with homophobia and with transphobia in equal measure: they beat us, threaten our lives, ban us from loving each other, call us names, mock us, dehumanise us, for centuries…. then try to portray US as secretive and untrustworthy for hiding ourselves!

  52. CO1982
    CO1982 August 1, 2012 at 8:03 am |

    Your cousin is fooling himself. People who can have children but choose not to earlier in life often experience a change of heart later. Imagine where that could leave the both of them later – a bogus news story about how one got the drop on the other, and your co-worker overreacted and badly hurt (at the very least) your cousin. To tell your co-worker isn’t your responsibility, but to follow Prudie’s advice and insist your cousin tell him is. Certainly. Good luck with all that. TOO glad it’s not me.

  53. Kev
    Kev August 1, 2012 at 8:09 am |

    I am far from what this blog might consider a feminist, but I’d like to posit the follow question with a desire for genuine feedback from the blog author and the regulars of this site:

    Is it not inconsistent to argue, on one hand, that “rape by deception” is a very real thing that society should punish (as argued here: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/07/22/on-rape-by-deception/), yet it is OK for a trans-gender person to hide their biological gender from a potential sex partner, who very possibly would have declined to have sex with that person had they known the full story?

  54. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 8:19 am |

    @CO1982

    The cousin is female. Which you clearly know if you’ve read the post, the original letter OR the comments thread, so kindly go fuck yourself, you misgendering shitlord.

  55. Andie
    Andie August 1, 2012 at 8:29 am |

    You mean ‘herself’ don’t you?

  56. TMK
    TMK August 1, 2012 at 8:42 am |

    Cherrybomb,

    Um, the letter writer said she felt guilty around “john” because she hasn’t “outed” her cousin to him, and she feels she ought to. I think she should feel guilty for even considering violating her cousin’s privacy.

    No, it’s not that. The letter says that she feels guilty around John. Two sentences later she ask if she should talk to HER and inist SHE tells him. That makes it more likely she feels guilty about John not knowing something she considers important, not that she feels guilty about the fact she (the author) is not telling him.

    In no place she considers violating her privacy. What she considers is perhaps being obnoxious – insisting on her cousing doing something she apparently doesn’t want to do. My advice would be to, well, ask her cousing why she’s doesn’t want to tell, and ask sincerely and not in accusatory way*. But the letter and Prudie response aren’t that bad.

    *Well, no kids so she doesn’t need to tell, that’s the reason. That’s complicated and beside the point, but as people said here, people usually want sharing their past experiences, that’s why it’s still possible to ask about the issue. Still, i’d advise to accept her decision not to tell, since, that’s her decision and chastizing her won’t do any good.

  57. Kristin A
    Kristin A August 1, 2012 at 8:43 am |

    @CO1982 if you want to boil it down to simplicities, a trans woman can never have her own pregnancy, but then neither can many cis women. Given that trans women are, shock, women, then trans history needn’t be a factor.

  58. David
    David August 1, 2012 at 8:44 am |

    Yes – he’s seeking sex with a woman, she’s a woman. Where’s the issue?

    Exactly. Treating the notion of “consent” as legitimate here amounts to accepting the idea that he would be justified, if that turns out to be the case, in believing she is other than a woman. No.

    Furthermore, feeling obligated to disclose to a friend, even a close friend, amounts to giving that friend permission to decide whether they want to see you differently on the basis of that information. Understand I am not saying anything about the voluntary choice to disclose because you want the person to know – I’m talking about the sense that it’s an obligation, that the person has a right to know, that if they don’t have this information it means they don’t really “know” you.

    I think this question gets all bound up with feeling or not feeling shame. There seems to be a common idea that if you are not ashamed of who you are there will be no reason to not disclose your history (aside from the obvious safety reasons). I suggest that this idea has it exactly backwards. The notion that other people can’t really know you intimately without knowing a specific bit of medical history grants a right to others (even if they would never exercise that right) that doesn’t exist – to decide for themselves whether you are who you say you are. It seems to me that the willingness to grant that option to others comes from a place of, if not shame, at least not complete self assurance.

  59. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 8:44 am |

    OK for a trans-gender person to hide their biological gender from a potential sex partner, who very possibly would have declined to have sex with that person had they known the full story?

    If it’s a potential sex partner, are they rendered utterly paralysed and unable to consent by the scary trans person being scary and trans in their vicinity? ’cause I mean, if you (general you) haven’t had sex with someone, and you find out this fact about them that is a dealbreaker for you for whatever transphobic reason, then how about you take the simple road out and DON’T FUCK THEM. Unless, of course, you’re assuming than trans people are more rapey than the general population, again for some transphobic reason.

  60. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |

    The notion that other people can’t really know you intimately without knowing a specific bit of medical history grants a right to others (even if they would never exercise that right) that doesn’t exist

    David I love you and want to do your taxes. (I’d do them horribly, but it’s the thought that counts, etc.)

  61. amblingalong
    amblingalong August 1, 2012 at 8:50 am |

    It would be much more clear-cut in a just world – if that person would not have sex with you if they knew what secret you were keeping from them, then whatever consent you can obtain was not freely given… I hasten to add that a bit of personal secrecy is inevitable – a secret only becomes morally suspect when disclosure would turn a ‘yes’ into a resounding ‘no.’

    Yeah, I have to say I feel really torn here. I mean, if you have a reasonable suspicion that any particular piece of information about yourself would cause your partner to withdraw consent, and you don’t share that information, and then you have sex… I’m really uncomfortable with that scenario regardless of what that information is.

    At the same time, I wholeheartedly agree with everything people have been writing about the right to privacy, and the very real danger of trans-panic. So where does that leave me? No idea.

  62. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar August 1, 2012 at 8:57 am |

    Russkii, what you said is wholly unworkable. If we all have to disclose everything that could potentially be important to a partner, where to we stop? You can’t know me well enough to know what matters to me until you know me pretty well. So what you’re saying would amount to a hundred-page list of disclosures.

    Or perhaps you mean that you think people should disclose that which you think a reasonable person would find important. I reject that for reasons that should be obvious.

    So I come down right where Kristen J. does, that we need to say what we need to know:

    Everyone is entitled to condition their consent to sex based on any factor they deem relevant – even if those factors are transphobic, racist, sexist, or otherwise fucked up. At the same time, a person cannot know the conditions on consent unless the other person has made those conditions clear.

    Some people have political requirements. Some people have safer sex requirements. Some people have gender identity requirements. Some people have artistic taste requirements. Some people have sports fandom requirements. But we can’t predict all of those in advance. So if someone needs to know whether I’m vegan or whether I am more of a dog person or a cat person or a bird person, or if I listen to pretentious prog metal before dating me, they had better ask.

  63. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar August 1, 2012 at 9:01 am |

    I reversed the emphasis in the quoted para. I meant to bold the last sentence.

  64. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar August 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |

    Also, I am tired of talking about how bad Yoffe is. She is consistently terrible. What would it take to get her canned?

  65. roymacIII
    roymacIII August 1, 2012 at 9:09 am |

    Also, the fact that many people view this question as a deal breaker means that it is different than some comparisons cited here: nose job when eighteen, a marriage from twenty years ago, your religion at birth, your grandma’s race, and so on. For most people this would not be a deal breaker.

    I’m not sure I understand why it matters that “many people” view it as a deal breaker. If the standard is that “we ought to tell our partner’s about things that might be deal breakers to them” then why does it matter what “many people” think of as deal breakers? If it’s about what our partner’s think of as deal breakers, then what other people think of as deal breakers shouldn’t matter, should it?

    I think think that a lot of this is “ideal world” bs. Sure, in an ideal world, we might say “well, we ought to be perfectly honest about everything in our pasts that might bother our current partners” (and even then, I’d argue not) but, frankly, we’re not in an ideal world. It’s up to each of us to decide what we tell our partners, and given the transphobia that is so common in our culture, I’m not going to judge someone for not wanting to tell their partner. It’s up to each person to decide when and how and if to tell their partners things like that.

  66. David
    David August 1, 2012 at 9:13 am |

    Your question is premised on the idea that trans people are by definition “deceiving” someone — their partners, the world — by not disclosing that their gender isn’t what they were assigned at birth.

    Yes. This is the thing that some people don’t seem to realize they are doing. Accepting that premise, or accepting that it’s legitimate for anyone to think they have been so “deceived.” Does anyone here really want to do that?

  67. Andie
    Andie August 1, 2012 at 9:31 am |

    Forgive me this horrible analogy, but would someone be ‘obligated’ to divulge to their partners if they were born with six toes, but the extras were later removed? No, I imagine not.

    Are we obligated to divulge to our partners if we have had other types of appearance-altering cosmetic surgery? No, because there’s no value judgement there.

    If you think trans folks are obligated to divulge their status it’s because you place a value on cis status over trans status. And if someone’s status as a cis person versus status as a trans person would affect your opinion of someone you supposedly LOVE, especially knowing the inherent risks in outing oneself, well, that’s just shitty.

  68. Jennifer2
    Jennifer2 August 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |

    It seems to me that when dating (or in any kind of relationship), it is the responsibility of the person for whom conditions are a dealbreaker to inquire about those conditions, rather than the responsibility of others to disclose any condition that might possibly be a dealbreaker to someone you are just getting to know. Perhaps the only thing that need be disclosed is the expectation that communication will happen in this manner, along with a listing of one’s own dealbreakers.

  69. Russkii
    Russkii August 1, 2012 at 10:33 am |

    As with regards to comparing one’s gender at birth with views on abortion, having six toes at birth and so on – none of these comparisons are very relevant. I don’t know how not to be crude about this, but basically, genitals are far more part of a sex act than one’s view on a controversial issue is. I am sure that some will deconstruct the meaning of “genitals”, “sex act” and “controversial issue” so as to undermine this argument. However, the fact is that genitals have far more to do with sex than any other point of reference I have seen cited here.

    Yes, in an ideal world all parties should list their dealbreakers, but this does not mean that a person should not disclose information which his/her partner may view as vital. Clearly, the letter writer’s cousin is aware of this but she has not found the courage to be upfront about this. Also, when it comes one night stands, how likely is it that these conversations about dealbreakers for sex will take place?

  70. Andie
    Andie August 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    Assuming that Juliette and her boyfriend have already had sex.. I think that would indicate that he has no problem with her genitals. So why does it matter if that’s maybe not what has always been there?

  71. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon August 1, 2012 at 10:47 am |

    @Russki,

    It’s ones’ own responsibility to ask a partner if they’re trans beforehand if that would be a dealbreaker for them. I don’t know your dealbreakers, and you don’t know mine. I’m not going to assume your dealbreakers for you, as that doesn’t actually help any situation.

    As for one night stands – same deal.

  72. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon August 1, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    My bad. You asked how – likely – is it? Well, if you know you have dealbreakers and you *don’t* ask your one night stand partner about them, that’s your own damn fault. I don’t know how likely it is, and neither do you. I’ve failed in the past to ask one night stands about dealbreakers (One was married, wasn’t in an open relationship and I wasn’t aware – that’s a dealbreaker for me) and I’m sure they’ve failed to ask me their own, as that’s life. Few people remember all the time.

  73. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    I don’t know how not to be crude about this, but basically, genitals are far more part of a sex act than one’s view on a controversial issue is.

    You…don’t see how I might find someone wishing to control the uses to which I wish to put MY genitals (by believing that it would be moral to force me to carry a pregnancy to term) far more controversial than what THEIR genitals used to be?

    Okay, that aside, let me give you another analogy. Suppose my “type” is big-breasted women, but I have a raging hatred of women who’ve undergone breast augmentation which I just never ever mention to anyone. I don’t ask women I date/fuck whether they’ve had breast augmentation surgery, because I just can’t be arsed to consider the possibility that women might want to alter their breasts for reasons of their own.

    Then I get ragingly pissed off, nay, murderous, when I find out that some of these women had their breasts augmented.

    To sum up: what the fuck?

    (Also: if someone being trans is a dealbreaker for you (general you), try not to be so cissexist that you don’t fucking ask if they are.)

  74. Kev
    Kev August 1, 2012 at 11:20 am |

    If you know that your partner would have have sex with you if they knew the truth, and you decide not to tell them, it is the functional equivalent of a lie. There are called “material omissions.”

  75. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon August 1, 2012 at 11:26 am |

    @Kev,

    If you know your partner would have sex with you anyway in that scenario, there’s no reason to tell them unless you consider that bit of your past important enough to tell them. Geeze.

  76. Andie
    Andie August 1, 2012 at 11:37 am |

    If you know your partner would have sex with you anyway in that scenario, there’s no reason to tell them unless you consider that bit of your past important enough to tell them. Geeze.

    This.

    Also, If your partner would NOT have sex with you if they knew, then you might need a new partner who is not a transphobe.

  77. samanthab
    samanthab August 1, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    As a cis woman with a severe mental illness, I can relate to a lot of what Donna L’s describing as far as friends’ disclosure to other people. On the one hand, it’s not something I think I should be ashamed of, and I want to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness as well as just plain be comfortable with who I am. In that respect, I value openness. But on the other hand, the stigma is horrendous and is potentially damaging to my life, livelihood and so on. In that respect, privacy is crucial.

    At any rate, I’m not assuming my situation is identical, by any means, but I do have a lot of empathy for the dance between public and private. It’s an icky thing to navigate. Stigma sucks.

  78. samanthab
    samanthab August 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

    Kev, at what point is the dude attracted to who he’s attracted to, and that’s enough? If we had to rattle off all of our life history every time someone was attracted to us, homo sapien sex would end because we’d all be too damn bored with one another.

  79. petpluto
    petpluto August 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm |

    If you know that your partner would have have sex with you if they knew the truth, and you decide not to tell them, it is the functional equivalent of a lie. There are called “material omissions.”

    You know what? I had a whole thing written about Best Practices and safety and Transgender Day of Remembrance, but it’s not necessary because:

    The truth is that Juliette is a woman, has always been a woman, and will continue to be a woman. If John would have a problem with it – and, note, the letter doesn’t say anything about whether or not John has exhibited prejudicial behavior – then that’s on John. Juliette can’t and shouldn’t live her life feeling as if she has to disclose she was born with male genitalia because to not do that is to live a lie. Transphobia and cissexism creates a delineation between “real” women and “fake” women, threatens and punishes the women perceived as fake – and yet demands that they identify themselves; and that is bullshit plain and simple. Trans women are women. Trans men are men.

    David had it perfectly right when he said:

    The notion that other people can’t really know you intimately without knowing a specific bit of medical history grants a right to others (even if they would never exercise that right) that doesn’t exist – to decide for themselves whether you are who you say you are.

    That’s what you’re demanding from trans folk. The entirely ridiculous notion that someone else should be able to decide if they’re who they are.

  80. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

    @Russki – yes, genitals feature in sex, so? What is the difference between a cis woman’s vulva and vagina, and a trans woman’s. that makes disclosure so necessary?

    How do the “But it’s LIES!” crowd in here (who I’ll presume are straight men suddenly interested in feminist issues. Gotta love how we get a rush of hit and run comments from the ‘Kev’s of the world on matters like this) , know that they haven’t already slept with a trans woman?

    Here’s the thing guys, neovaginas don’t have barcodes or datestamps on. There’s no ‘clue’ that’ll tip you off, unless you get your speculum out and check for a cervix.

    Oh wait… My mum doesn’t have a cervix either, since her hysterectomy.

    Which means, I suppose, that you JUST CAN’T TELL! Oh no!

    So in future, it’s best if you ask every single woman you meet if she was assigned male at birth. Or only date pregnant women. Who might actually be trans men having a kid before starting T or having surgery.

    Better issue every woman you meet with some sort of formal gender identity questionnaire and submit them to karyotype testing.

    Poor ickle transphobes. Perhaps self-love is in their best interest?

  81. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm |

    Punishment ? A trans would only lose a relationship. Not being able to bear children is a bit more important than having fake boobs or something.

  82. Lemondemon
    Lemondemon August 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    Pardon me? ‘A trans?”. Well, at least we know you’re a bigot now, reducing someone to a bloody characteristic. Don’t do that.

  83. Andie
    Andie August 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    A trans would only lose a relationship.

    Did you miss the parts where people have been threatened, assaulted and even killed over being outed?

    I think you missed that part.

    and really, “A Trans?”

    Are you going to refer to someone catching “The Gay” next?

  84. konkonsn
    konkonsn August 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

    @Russkii

    I don’t know how not to be crude about this, but basically, genitals are far more part of a sex act than one’s view on a controversial issue is. I am sure that some will deconstruct the meaning of “genitals”, “sex act” and “controversial issue” so as to undermine this argument. However, the fact is that genitals have far more to do with sex than any other point of reference I have seen cited here.

    Feels like you’re saying that there are specific expectations for how genitalia will look and that trans people aren’t going to live up to those expectations. A trans woman’s vagina is still a vagina because all vaginas are different. And if you want to argue about the way that vagina came about, well…we can talk about how women assigned female at birth can have cosmetic surgery on their genitals or even medical issues that may permanently alter their genitals. Are you saying those women are somehow deceiving their partners by not disclosing that their labia were actually altered to look smaller? If someone dates a man that has used implants to make his penis larger, does he need to tell his partner about that before they have sex?

  85. Li
    Li August 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm |

    Pardon me? ‘A trans?”. Well, at least we know you’re a bigot now, reducing someone to a bloody characteristic. Don’t do that.

    A quick google has reminded me that Wirbelwind was also pro racist jokes and jus sanguinus, and argued that articles about privilege were to “instil guilt” in white guys. So, like, I’d probs skip the “now” part of that comment.

  86. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm |

    Is something wrong with ius sanguinus ? Or being able to tell jokes to a small company of people that appreciate them ?
    Unless, of course, you wish to send people to prison for it. I believe some countries are still doing it and it would be awesome if (or rather when) USA joins that club.
    And to quote jfpbookworm’s comment from “Rape by Deception” :
    ” if you know someone would refuse to have sex with you if they knew a fact, and you intentionally withhold that fact, you’re violating their right to consent. It doesn’t matter if you think their reason is arbitrary, or irrational, or prejudiced–it’s their decision to make, not yours. If you don’t like their reasoning, don’t have sex with them”

  87. Miss S
    Miss S August 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

    Rambling thoughts:
    If I were seeing someone and I thought that a particular facet of my identity would be a deal breaker, I would tell them prior to intimacy or end the relationship. I take honesty and trust seriously, and I would want to share the things that are important to me or make up part of my identity. If, for example, I were dating someone and heard them make disparaging comments about people with mental illness, I would tell them that I had one or end the relationship. Why would I want to be with someone who thinks like that?

    Same goes for a lot- if I were dating some random Republican Fundamentalist who thought abortion and the women who had them were evil, and I had had an abortion, I would……. Actually I would never give that guy the time of day  I wouldn’t date a guy who indicated he was racist, etc. IMO, there are too many open minded, non racist men out there for me to waste my time. I don’t enjoy sex outside of relationships so by the time intimacy occurs, I know a lot about the person. I have no problem asking their political views, if they have kids, if they’ve been married, their sexual orientation, their views on abortion, etc. When it comes to STD’s, I’ll ask, but I’ll also suggest that we just go get tested together and still use protection.

    So, to sum it up, ask about your deal breakers and be honest about theirs.

  88. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |

    Is something wrong with ius sanguinus ? Or being able to tell jokes to a small company of people that appreciate them ?

    Is it very difficult to type from behind that white bedsheet of yours, pumpkin?

  89. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    and really, “A Trans?”

    Are you going to refer to someone catching “The Gay” next?

    Hey, I caught the gay once. Every time I blew my nose, my snot was rainbow-coloured, and I suffered from an inexplicable excess of tolerance towards others’ sexual and gender identities.

    All in all, it’s something Wirbelwind could do with catching.

  90. tmc
    tmc August 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |

    A lot of what’s being said in this thread bothers me so fucking much. Mostly because of the cis folks talking about how they would always disclose because honesty is so important to them, or how a partner who had a problem with knowing someone’s status wouldn’t be worthy of the relationship anyway, or whatever. That’s all very nice, but I have a problem with privileged people airing their “If I were experiencing this oppression, this is what I would do” scenarios in front of the folks who actually DO experience this oppression.

    It reminds of when I was talking about slavery and my white best friend* said, “If I had been a slave, I would have kicked the ass of any white person who tried to hurt me.” Really? It’s all well and good to fantasize that if you were in that position, you would be so brave or honest or whatever-the-fuck you think it is that these oppressed people are lacking that keeps them from behaving in the way that you think they ought…no wait, I take that back. That’s actually pretty fucked.

    Talking about trans* folks as if they aren’t right here and hypothesizing about how you would live their lives just really REALLY bothers me.

    And don’t even get me started on the bullshit about how Fucking While Trans is equivalent to sexual assault. Just…ugh.

    *This is a thing that has actually happened to me. I’m still friends with that white person, only now she’s wised up to her white privilege and we have honest and candid discussions about race and oppression all the time.

  91. tmc
    tmc August 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    Jeez, I should have used something other than an asterisk for my footnote. Now it just looks confusing with all of the asterisks everywhere!

  92. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    “Is it very difficult to type from behind that white bedsheet of yours, pumpkin?”
    Sorry, no KKK here. It would be pretty comical to start a white supremacy group in a country where more than 95% of citizens belong to a single nationality (and yes, a white one) and the minorities are Russians, Germans, etc…

  93. tmc
    tmc August 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

    It’s easy for cis people to say, “oh, you wouldn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t accept you,” but sometimes trans women don’t exactly have a multitude of partners available to them.

    I agree with this wholeheartedly, Donna. It’s easy to talk about what you would do when you’re the one sitting on the big heap of privilege.

    For cis folks (myself included, of course), this is a thought experiment. For trans* folks, it’s not just real, but can sometimes mean the difference between life or death.

  94. tmc
    tmc August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    This whole discussion reminds me strongly of this: On Identity and Telling the Truth.

  95. Russkii
    Russkii August 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    Konkonsn and Oartial Human: I will response to both of you together because you made very similar arguments, namely, that there is no difference between vagina of a woman post-operation and person who was a woman from birth, implying that only transphobia could explain why somebody would believe and claim otherwise. Perhaps you are right. I am not sure what informs people’s view on this issue and it doesn’t actually matter. Broadly speaking, people have a right to information which could influence their decision to engage in a sexual act regardless of their motives. Since we know that for many male would-be sexual partners of post-operation women this would be a dealbreaker – and we know that this is true, that is why we are discussing it so much – this information should be revealed upfront.

  96. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    Sorry, no KKK here. It would be pretty comical to start a white supremacy group in a country where more than 95% of citizens belong to a single nationality (and yes, a white one) and the minorities are Russians, Germans, etc…

    Sounds like you don’t need to start any white supremacist groups, yes….

  97. valentifan69
    valentifan69 August 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    What makes this private information?

    I admit the public/private divide is blurry. But things like medical records, personal correspondence and finances tend to be considered private; and things like past marital status, which college you went to, and employment history tend to be considered public.

    If someone ‘Used To Be Male’ then surely that’s just a public and historic fact anyone could have observed at the time, like if you used to work for Lehman Bros or were a Goth, rather than anything private. Though I can see how sharing explicit detail of surgical procedures etc could be private, surely the raw fact is public.

  98. Andie
    Andie August 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    Valentifan

    What of those who have, for various valid reasons, gone out of their way to cut ties with their former identity?

  99. Kev
    Kev August 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

    “Kev, at what point is the dude attracted to who he’s attracted to, and that’s enough? If we had to rattle off all of our life history every time someone was attracted to us, homo sapien sex would end because we’d all be too damn bored with one another.”

    99.999% of our life history would make no difference to our potential partner. Whether you agree that it is moral or not, a large percentage of the male population would not want to date have sex with a woman that was born with a penis. This is why I called it a “material” omission. Comparing this omission to other normal omissions that just don’t get mentioned due to normal time constrains is intellectually dishonest because if obviously would be a big deal to many, many guys.

  100. David
    David August 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

    Macavitykitsune@11:15 – Love you too.

  101. Kev
    Kev August 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

    “It’s easy for cis people to say, “oh, you wouldn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t accept you,” but sometimes trans women don’t exactly have a multitude of partners available to them. ”

    This is not convincing. It’s like say, “Hey, well its OK for me to be deceptive/lie/committ fraud in order to get sex, because I am not very desirable to a large percentage of the population.”

  102. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb August 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |

    What makes this private information?

    There are a lot more trivial things people consider to be private. My friend wears the Miraculous bra (VS, adds two cup sizes very convincingly). This is private, most people haven’t seen her without her extreme push-up bra and don’t know that she’s smaller-busted.
    I’ve dyed my hair for years– the people who didn’t know me before 5th grade all think I have naturally auburn hair. I wouldn’t really appreciate people running around saying “that’s not her REAL color,” and I don’t think my friend would appreciate me telling mutual acquaintances “those aren’t her REAL boobs.”

    Less trivial: Some of my family members who’ve had hysterectomies don’t like to advertise that fact. Some have been had breast reductions, and tumor removals, but don’t like that advertised to the world.

    Just because you could dig around in an individual’s past to find out that they are somehow presenting differently than they did in the past doesn’t mean that it’s information that should be spread around without the individual’s consent.

    I mean, maybe I’m out of touch with the times, but I thought it was still considered poor form to gossip.

  103. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. There are almost no good options for trans people. Either you tell your partner and risk their reaction being bad, or you don’t tell them and risk them finding out. One thing I can say with authority is that the longer a relationship gets, the more comfortable you get, so it gets less and less easy to rock the boat. Maybe if this woman sat down and thought about what her cousin was going through, it wouldn’t be ‘John’ she feels guilty about.

  104. valentifan69
    valentifan69 August 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    What of those who have, for various valid reasons, gone out of their way to cut ties with their former identity?

    It still doesn’t make it private information, just public information they’d rather not be spread about. So sure, object on that basis, but not because it’s a violation of privacy.

    Maybe I’m just being nit picking. I can empathise with statements that’s revealing information about someone’s past may be a shitty thing to do. Someone might be an ex-con going straight, or an ex Lehman employee, or used to be married and rather no-one know – but none of that’s private; while things like a spanking fetish you shared with your ex-wife, or tax information, or details of what drugs you’re being prescribed would be.

  105. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    I disagree whole heartedly. As a pansexual female, I clearly have no problem dating a trans, intersexed, etc. However, If my partner lied by omission and didn’t tell me about something as serious as that and then I found out later, I probably wouldn’t stay with that person.

    And what if a person doesn’t WANT to be with someone after they find out about their operation. I don’t think that automatically makes them transphobic.

    Nor is transsexualism something that should be shamed or hidden. Even after the fact, It was once a part of them and their history.
    If your not comfortable enough to disclose that to someone (within a reasonable amount of time), you have no business being with them.

  106. samanthab
    samanthab August 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

    Haha. Valentenfan69, that’s a lovely thought, that prescribed drugs might be kept private. I don’t live in that world! I’m perplexed as to your boundaries between public and private. Why, as a cis-woman, are my medical records any more/less “public” than anyone else’s? It’s all out there if you look hard enough. I think that should be fairly evident.

  107. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    And what if a person doesn’t WANT to be with someone after they find out about their operation. I don’t think that automatically makes them transphobic.

    That’s like saying “I know you’re a good person, but now that I know that you’re homosexual, I no longer want you to be around my child. It’s nothing personal – I have nothing against homosexual people – but I just don’t feel comfortable with the idea that my child is with a homosexual person. Don’t take it the wrong way!”

    Special pleading and nothing more.

  108. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

    This is not convincing. It’s like say, “Hey, well its OK for me to be deceptive/lie/committ fraud in order to get sex, because I am not very desirable to a large percentage of the population.”

    Kev, if it is SOOOOOOOOO motherfucking important that you only sleep with cis people, ask people you date if they’re trans. And, you know, try not to be so ragingly transphobic in the process that they’ll lie because you have the Axe Murderer Gleam in your eye and they’re placing their lives above their desire to assuage your burning terror of their genitalia.

  109. Donna L
    Donna L August 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |

    “Hey, well its OK for me to be deceptive/lie/committ fraud in order to get sex, because I am not very desirable to a large percentage of the population.”

    Kev, you’re disgusting. I’m away from the computer all day and come back to see this kind of crap. I’ll say it again: if someone finds a trans woman sufficiently attractive to have sex with or marry, then they’re attracted to trans women. By definition.

    If someone’s that bigoted that merely knowing about the prior physical configuration of someone to whom they’re presently attracted would make them recoil in disgust, it’s up to them to disclose their bigotry to every potential partner. Because it’s their problem, not anyone else’s. I think failure to disclose that kind of prejudice is far more repugnant than anything else that’s being discussed here.

  110. Rhoanna
    Rhoanna August 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

    And what if a person doesn’t WANT to be with someone after they find out about their operation. I don’t think that automatically makes them transphobic.

    Maybe not automatically, if we’re being really really generous. But in 99.9% of the time, it does make them transphobic. Really, the only exception I can think of would be if it wasn’t truly because they were trans, but because they couldn’t have biological children together. (In which case, the person would also break up with infertile people, people who’d had hysterectomies, etc.) But such cases are probably vanishingly rare.

  111. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    Hey, regular commenters,

    I just realised something! My wife doesn’t have a gallbladder anymore. I’d never dated anyone who USED to have a gallbladder before! And I didn’t know she’d had hers taken out until a little bit after we started dating.

    I…I can’t stop thinking about her gallbladder when we’re together. It just creeps me out. I mean, if people were meant not to have gallbladders, they’d be born wtihout them, right? It’s just unnatural not to have gallbladders. I feel like everyone who doesn’t have gallbladders should go around informing people who they suspect might be attracted to them about this fact – because what if someone doesn’t like the formerly-gallbladdered, but never thought to ask? WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHT TO HAVE GALLBLADDER LOVE, HAS ENOUGH ATTENTION BEEN PAID TO MAH RIGHTS?

    And what do I do about my current gallbladderless love? I feel so tainted.

  112. Jadey
    Jadey August 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    @ SydneyKait

    If it’s a deal-breaker for you that your partner has to fully disclose everything about themselves right up front, I hope you communicate that clearly and give them the option for opting out of a relationship with *you*.

    Building trust takes time. There are people in my life I love dearly, and I still wouldn’t tell them everything about me without cause. And I respect that they don’t tell me everything about them. Having boundaries and personal needs doesn’t mean someone doesn’t love you and that you (as a general “you”, not you specifically, apparently) can’t have a relationship with them. Especially when that disclosure could be so dangerous to them, physically and emotionally. Plenty of mature, healthy, lifelong relationships exist while still allowing the people within them to maintain their own boundaries.

  113. Donna L
    Donna L August 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    A trans would only lose a relationship

    And fuck you too. I’m not “a trans,” and I’m tired of this. Are you truly that profoundly ignorant?

  114. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    Since it’s “transphobic” then “trans” seems pretty reasonable. Or should I say “transgender” ?

  115. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    A trans would only lose a relationship

    Aside from referring to such a person with a transphobic word and ignoring the danger that transgender/transsexual people face in disclosing their history, you seem to think that losing a chance to have a relationship is somehow an insignificant matter.

  116. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm |

    Hey, regular commenters,

    I just realised something! My wife doesn’t have a gallbladder anymore. I’d never dated anyone who USED to have a gallbladder before! And I didn’t know she’d had hers taken out until a little bit after we started dating.

    I…I can’t stop thinking about her gallbladder when we’re together. It just creeps me out. I mean, if people were meant not to have gallbladders, they’d be born wtihout them, right? It’s just unnatural not to have gallbladders. I feel like everyone who doesn’t have gallbladders should go around informing people who they suspect might be attracted to them about this fact – because what if someone doesn’t like the formerly-gallbladdered, but never thought to ask? WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHT TO HAVE GALLBLADDER LOVE, HAS ENOUGH ATTENTION BEEN PAID TO MAH RIGHTS?

    And what do I do about my current gallbladderless love? I feel so tainted.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your disastrous relationship. You need to break up with her right away. Get that deceptive scumbag out of your life!.

    Your situation reminds me of the time I fell in love with a woman who ended up being someone who has a CATARACT! What a horrifying ordeal. It just felt so unnatural to be with her once I learned the truth. I’m glad that that person is out of my life now. She actually had the audacity to call me a shallow, ableist asshat when I told her I didn’t love her anymore because of her cataract. Hah! People these days…

  117. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    Better lose it now when the relationship’s pretty fresh rather than 10 years later when the guy can have a change of heart when it comes to children.

  118. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

    Note: the story in the latter paragraph is fiction >_>

  119. Jadey
    Jadey August 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    Since it’s “transphobic” then “trans” seems pretty reasonable. Or should I say “transgender” ?

    Parts of speech, asshole – don’t reduce a person (noun) to a descriptor (adjective). It’s dehumanizing and, in this case, transphobic, as trans people are often denied recognition of both their humanity and their gender. She’s a trans woman – refer to her as such (or, if you are in a hurry, as a woman).

    @ Donna

    Given Wirbelwind’s past contributions on this blog, I think the answer is a resounding “yes”, unfortunately.

  120. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

    Better lose it now when the relationship’s pretty fresh rather than 10 years later when the guy can have a change of heart when it comes to children.

    Or, you know, adoption, artificial insemination, or sixty thousand other things. He knows she’s infertile, from what I can tell, so if he isn’t prepared to find alternative ways to have a child if he wants one, it’s his thinking skills that haven’t left the nursery, not hers.

    She actually had the audacity to call me a shallow, ableist asshat when I told her I didn’t love her anymore because of her cataract. Hah! People these days…

    *offers comforting hugs* I know how you feel. I really do. *sad trombones play in background*

  121. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm |

    Jill,
    I completely agree.

    @Jadey

    I never said my partner “has to fully disclose everything about themselves right up front,.”
    I completely understand a trans person taking time to disclose this to someone. Not telling them all together or waiting years and years is a different story.
    Nor do I expect some one to tell me every minute detail about their life.
    Having a sex change operation however is not what I would consider a minute detail.

    @Rhoanna You make a good point. I could be totally wrong. I just figured you can be okay with someone whose had a sex change, but not necessarily want to be with one.

    Also, I just wanna say that I hope I didn’t come across as a total douche. I just feel (ideally) a trans person would be able to eventually tell their partner and then they could move on and not have to dwell on it. This isn’t a black and white subject I know. I still have a lot to learn. :)

  122. roymacIII
    roymacIII August 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

    Maybe I’m just being nit picking.

    Frankly; yes, you are.

    This is not convincing. It’s like say, “Hey, well its OK for me to be deceptive/lie/committ fraud in order to get sex, because I am not very desirable to a large percentage of the population.

    If you think that being trans is somehow deceptive or dishonest or comparable to fraud, then the problem is with you, not with the person not telling you.

  123. Jadey
    Jadey August 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm |

    @ Sydney

    In that case, I think you’d be better off focusing on being the kind of person your partner wants to disclose to, rather than putting the onus on your partner to disclose in order to validate their trust in you, which is how I read your initial comment.

    Frankly, I still disagree that a trans person *needs* to disclose their history to me (or anyone) as their intimate partner. Even in a perfect non-transphobic world, I still don’t see how this is my business – if someone has made that change and moved on from it and it has absolutely no bearing on me at all (infertility, if that were to be an issue, can be disclosed as that and nothing else), why do I need to know? Why can’t I just love and be with the person I’m with and let them do the same? I honestly can’t think of a single way in which it would make a massive difference. If it’s a question of sexual sensitivity, they could tell me what they do and do not like and do and do not need for gratification without saying why (it’s not as if all people don’t have a lot of variation in terms of sexual desires and physiological sensitivities). If it’s an issue of family and past friend relationships, it might come up beyond their control as something they tell me about before someone else does, but if everyone else has moved on, again, it doesn’t matter. If it’s an issue that this particular hypothetical trans person wants me to know because it’s important to them that I do for whatever reason, then I would appreciate the gravity and importance of this disclosure, but it wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker regardless. If it’s an issue of me remembering not to be cissexist and transphobic and not let people around me get away with the same, well, I should be doing that no matter what the status of my current partners.

    I just don’t see it. It sees really self-absorbed to me that this particular aspect of someone’s life would be so overwhelmingly important to me if it’s not all that overwhelmingly important to them, why I would have to know it. I guess that is the disconnect. I am assuming that there are trans people in the world for whom their trans status is no longer a crucial part of how they think of themselves, who have transitioned and are basically living as cis, in transition no longer. Those are the people I assume would not feel particularly interested in *ever* sharing their status – if it’s not so very important and self-defining to them, who am I to turn around and try to redefine it based on my own assumptions about what is and is not important? Obviously that doesn’t describe all or potentially even most trans people, but someone already pointed out above that a lot of trans people *do* disclose at some point, whether because they want to or need to. And if they chose to because they want to, then great. But the point is to let the person whose body and identity are being disclosed make their own judgement call and the most supportive thing a cis partner can do is let them.

  124. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date August 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

    (c) we’ve been together for a very long time and made it apparent that we had shared our most intimate secrets and you told me about how childhood and now I feel like I don’t know this huge part of your history.

    That was what I thought I would be thinking. But I didn’t want it to be notes from my boner.

  125. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm |

    Kait – someone isn’t “a trans or intersex”, there is no “the operation”, and if someone’s sex assignment at birth is grounds to dump them anywhere along the line? That’s transphobic.

    Kevin and Wibblefart – you’re Olympic standard wankers, congratulations!

    Also – 8% of my country are POC/BME, yet we still have white supremacist groups. I bet your country has them too WW, cos racist fuckstains are a worldwide phenomenon.

    Mac, oh poor mac – big hugs. Your wife’s a freak. Initiate proceedings, and start the hunt for a new gallbladder, I mean, new PARTNER.

  126. Caperton
    Caperton August 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm | *

    The post that tmc linked @ 95 had an apt paragraph about a trans person “disclosing” his or her history.

    This is not even getting into the fact that trans people are not dishonest for not disclosing their trans status unless you think that “trans” = “not really the gender I say that I am.” A trans woman who says “I am a woman” is not a liar if she leaves out the trans qualifier; she is a woman. But trans folks who don’t disclose their status are frequently framed as being deceptive by cis folks, as if by claiming womanhood fully, a trans woman is somehow trying to sneak her way into cis lives.

  127. Caperton
    Caperton August 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm | *

    And Kev and Wibblefart, fuck all the way off. You’re disgusting.

  128. Jadey
    Jadey August 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

    Kait – someone isn’t “a trans or intersex”

    Oh, I missed that! My brain must have automatically inserted “person” there because, well, yes.

    So that’s twice on this post that trans people (and once for intersex people, lucky them) have been reduced to an adjective. Just peachy.

  129. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm |

    [Trigger warning for transphobic violence. -C]

    In 2008, the man who had been casually seeing Angie Zapata learned she was transgender and proceeded to beat her up, then bludgeon her to death with a fire extinguisher. And this wasn’t the only time such a thing has happened to a trans woman. Given this, I think it’s completely reprehensible for anybody to suggest a trans woman has an obligation to disclose her trans status to any person at any time for any reason. If she wants to tell people–great!! If not, that’s her business and I’m sure she has valid reasons for choosing not to.

    When I think of why people would want to know this information, the only response I can think of is that they’d want to know it is because of transphobia.

    There’s at least one non-transphobic reason that a person might want to know that their partner is transgender. Because transgender people are fucking awesome! If I was dating somebody, I would LOVE to know they were also transgender. . .we’d have so many things we could talk about and relate to each other on! Of course, I would never think they’d have any obligation to tell me. But I’d love to know. . .just because trans people are badass.

  130. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm |

    I realize now I should probably have put a trigger warning on the comment I just posted. If the mods have a moment and wouldn’t mind adding a trigger warning, I would greatly appreciate it.

    [No problem. -C]

  131. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    There’s at least one non-transphobic reason that a person might want to know that their partner is transgender. Because transgender people are fucking awesome! If I was dating somebody, I would LOVE to know they were also transgender. . .we’d have so many things we could talk about and relate to each other on! Of course, I would never think they’d have any obligation to tell me. But I’d love to know. . .just because trans people are badass.

    I wish I could meet a transgender person in real life. I’ve only seen one transgender person in the outskirts of San Francisco, and that was also when my dad called her mentally ill (we could tell that she’s a trans woman because, when we saw her, it seemed that she was in the middle of her transition). That was an awful experience with my dad.

  132. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm |

    I wish I could meet a transgender person in real life.

    Wait, are you being serious or facetious?

    If you are being serious, the chances are that you have met a trans person. We’re everywhere.

    Actually, the first time I ever met another trans person I was about 45 years old. (Not counting looking in the mirror, I guess.)

  133. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm |

    [Trigger warning for extreme transphobic violence.]

    Unfortunately, Becca, I already knew about Angie Zapata. And Gwen Araujo a few years before her. Who was beaten to death over a period of hours by several men, with heavy frying pans and other metal implements. The men who killed her were famous for raising the “trans panic” defense.

    Extreme, brutal violence — things like someone being stabbed dozens of times, having their head bashed in, being set on fire — is a common characteristic of murders of trans women.

    The risk can be greater than losing a relationship. At least if it’s a man you’re involved with.

  134. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    Wait, are you being serious or facetious?

    If you are being serious, the chances are that you have met a trans person. We’re everywhere.

    Serious – and I apologize! My comment was rather narrow-minded.

  135. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm |

    Lmfao. I’m starting to see why people are so put off by this shit. Talk about nitpicking. I know transsexuals are people. Forgive me for not putting “person” at the end of every description, I thought that was a given.

    Have fun sitting around with your thumbs up your ass and try to be as politically correct as possible as to not offend anyone, instead of having an actual discussion.

  136. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    Lmfao. I’m starting to see why people are so put off by this shit. Talk about nitpicking. I know transsexuals are people. Forgive me for not putting “person” at the end of every description, I thought that was a given.

    Have fun sitting around with your thumbs up your ass and try to be as politically correct as possible as to not offend anyone, instead of having an actual discussion.

    People have explained why those terms are problematic. Read those posts instead of whining about people being “politically correct” when they just want to use inclusive language. And it’s really not that hard to use.

  137. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm |

    when others ask them to use inclusive language*

  138. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm |

    Have fun sitting around with your thumbs up your ass and try to be as politically correct as possible as to not offend anyone, instead of having an actual discussion.

    Don’t blame us; blame the English language. These things are about complicated, subjective usages of language that evolve over time, and they are important even if they don’t make 100% logical sense. Let me use an analogy to race (hopefully this doesn’t bother anyone. If it does, feel free to call me on it). Anyway, you’re probably aware that it’s perfectly fine to refer to an African American as a “Black person.” But it is normally very offensive to refer to an Asian American by what’s sometimes considered to be the color of their skin. This is because the histories and subjective usages of these two terms are very different, even though they appear grammatically similar at first glance.

    Likewise, I have no problem if people call me “a transsexual,” but will be pretty bothered if people call me “a trans” or “a transgender.” Why? Is there an objective, grammatical difference? Not really. But the people saying “a transsexual” are often allies, whereas the people saying “a trans” and “a transgender” are usually either extremely ignorant about trans issues or are antagonistic and using non-preferred terms intentionally. So these words have become triggering for me based off the types of people who normally use them. Sometimes just a few letters can make a big difference.

  139. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    To clarify my comment in moderation. . .I meant that I’m OK with being called “a transsexual” when “transsexual” is being used as either a noun OR as an adjective. But I find it offensive to be called “a trans” or “a transgender” when those words are being used as nouns. I’m fine with them, of course, when they are being used as adjectives: i.e. “a trans *fill in the blank* (woman, person, feminist, etc.)

  140. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

    Donna. . .yeah, the amount and the brutality of violence that’s directed toward trans women is truly appalling. As are all the other manifestations of our oppression: higher rates of incarceration, rampant employment discrimination, routine denial of medical care, nonstop offensive stereotyping in the media, etc, etc. And 99.9% of this is perpetuated by cis people. So–not to veer too far into identity politics–but I think the whole idea that trans people even have ANY sort of obligation toward cis people, whether individually or collectively, is kinda fucked up. Maybe cis people should experience more of a sense of obligation to help create a society where we are equal to them and no longer violently oppressed or abused. Then I’ll start worrying about their boners or urges to have more emotional intimacy with us.

  141. Really?
    Really? August 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm |

    Trans panic is a legal strategy but like gay panic, is a load of nonsense when you unpack the facts. The men knew they were trans women – there was no deception. They, like violent closeted gay men of the past, were consumed by hatred of their own desires and lashed out. Fact is that there are not that many trans people in the world and I just don’t believe that they are all passing due to transphobia. I think articles like this almost exacerbate the problem because they paint a picture of all these lying trans people trying to bed everyone else. I just don’t buy it. The world is just much more vanilla than that.

    If you don’t hang out in social justice circles, you will be unlikely to meet anyone trans – ever. Period. And, I’m sorry but you will know. You can tell. The LW’s cousin probably knows. The men who raised the trans panic defense also knew.

    Trans people are a small % of the population. They are massively overrepresented in homelessness, sex work, drug abuse and prison. So unless this is the population from which you ordinarily draw romantic partners, remove them. Then remove all of the people for whom “passing” physically is unlikely. Then remove all of the people who hang out in social justice circles with other queer folk. This realistically leaves about 10 people in the whole of America. This is not a real problem. I doubt this is a real letter. It’s statistically a very difficult thing in this world to date a undisclosed trans woman or man without knowing about it. It’s just not likely to happen to the average person.

  142. Really?
    Really? August 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm |

    Just to be clear: I’m a cis person who would want EVERYTHING disclosed – like everything. Past partners, difficult family, childhood abuse, previous assaults or other crimes against you, physical or mental illnesses, family tendencies, sexual partners, any sexual orientation other than straight, any kinks AT ALL, trans status etc etc.

    BUT I would ask about all these things. I wouldn’t assume a damn thing. But I basically don’t believe that this is really happening. Among my friends who are super hipster and very Social Justice, they date the rainbow. And mostly they are involved in disclosure scenarios all the time. For all of these things. But no one else outside of these circles ever really sees these issues.

  143. kev
    kev August 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm |

    How quickly the posters on this site resort to personal attack. Pretty disappointing how the “enlightened” crowd rolls. I’ve been called a potential axe murderer and disgusting, for basically positing reasonable questions with a genuine desire to have an intellectual discussion with those that think different from me. I personally have no problem with homosexuals or transsexuals. That doesn’t mean I personally would want to date someone who misled me by omission in that regard. You can consider me a disgusting monster, but the vast majority of the population feels that way.

    Further, the argument that keeping it a secret is justified by the risk of violence is similarly ridiculous. First, its a risk that was completely created by the transgender person, by not being up front in the first place about their identity. That doesn’t make it right for someone to react violently, of course. But the odds of a transgender person being attacked skyrockets once they have begun a relationship with that large omission.

  144. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm |

    its a risk that was completely created by the transgender person, by not being up front in the first place about their identity

    Lovely

  145. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm |

    Further, the argument that keeping it a secret is justified by the risk of violence is similarly ridiculous. First, its a risk that was completely created by the transgender person, by not being up front in the first place about their identity. That doesn’t make it right for someone to react violently, of course. But the odds of a transgender person being attacked skyrockets once they have begun a relationship with that large omission.

    That’s actually factually inaccurate. The majority of violence against transgender people has nothing to do with this sort of occurrence. If you are the type of person who is going to beat the shit out of someone because their existence threatens your sexuality, you are going to do so whether they reveal their born gender before the first kiss or after a six month relationship.

  146. Jadey
    Jadey August 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm |

    It’s always nice when someone who professes to wanting to be an ally and acknowledges that they have a lot to learn decides it’s not worth it as soon as someone points out something they did that was hurtful and needs to change.

    No, no, wait. Not “nice”. It’s that other thing.

    Kev, you on the other hand, are in your own league of shitty behaviour. Trans people do not cause anyone to hurt them – bigoted violent transphobic assholes decide to do that themselves and nothing else justifies it or explains it away.

  147. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 1, 2012 at 11:29 pm |

    “Officer. . .I didn’t kill her! Her penis killed her! 9 out of 10 physicists agree that a phallus emits infrared, magnetic penile gamma rays which enter the brain of a transphobic straight man and put him into a trance-like state where he loses control of his own nervous system. With the transgender woman’s penis now in full remote control of the straight man’s brain, he is compulsed through black magic to begin a campaign of escalating violence, often premeditated, that will inevitably result in her death. 2+2=5!! Please officer, you got to believe me!”

  148. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm |

    Kev, I’ll bet you didn’t know that a number of times when men who’ve murdered a trans woman have claimed it was because they were seized by “trans panic” when they discovered their girlfriend’s history, it’s turned out that they actually knew all about it all along. And killed her not because *they* discovered her history, but because their friends did, and they simply couldn’t stand the humiliation of having people think they were knowingly dating a trans woman. So they committed murder to try to cover that up. It’s pretty clear that at least a couple of the men who murdered Gwen Araujo knew perfectly well that she was trans; they’d known her for years. But murder is so much easier than being made fun of, or having your friends think you’re gay, right?

  149. igglanova
    igglanova August 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm |

    Further, the argument that keeping it a secret is justified by the risk of violence is similarly ridiculous. First, its a risk that was completely created by the transgender person, by not being up front in the first place about their identity.

    Even if this were actually true (and it isn’t), the decision to withold one’s trans* identity is not done while coolly weighing the pros and cons in an intellectually detached manner. It is highly constrained by fear. You need a tremendous lack of compassion to feel no sympathy for someone who is both in love and in fear for their life and livelihood.

    That we, as a society, could place trans* people into this trap and then judge the shit out of them when they pick a morally ambiguous way out is despicably cruel.

  150. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

    I’ve been called a potential axe murderer

    If you can’t parse a “general you”, stay off the internet, dude. Also, stop with the victim-blaming.

  151. mxe354
    mxe354 August 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

    You can consider me a disgusting monster, but the vast majority of the population feels that way.

    An appeal to popularity does nothing to make you seem less bigoted, sorry.

  152. Miss S
    Miss S August 2, 2012 at 1:27 am |

    This is not convincing. It’s like say, “Hey, well its OK for me to be deceptive/lie/committ fraud in order to get sex, because I am not very desirable to a large percentage of the population.”

    Yes, this. I’m not going to deceive someone to sleep with them, because…why? They aren’t the last person on earth. It’s not necessary. I’m also going to be unhappy if someone does that to me.

    To be clear, I may have gotten a bit off topic, because I’m not talking solely about gender/sexuality, but anything that could be considered a deal breaker.

  153. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 1:43 am |

    How is this difficult? Trans people living their lives authentically are not deceivers/liars/fraudulent just because cis people are obsessed with what they may or may not have once had between their legs. It’s not the job of trans people to coddle cis people by assuming responsibility for cissexism.

    You want trans people to be upfront with you about their histories? Put your game face on and start seriously tackling transphobia.

  154. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind August 2, 2012 at 3:48 am |

    Yet, it isn’t their job. But it’s their job to provide information so that cis person they are with can make a decision.
    Oh, and it isn’t cis people’s job to coddle trans people’s feelings.

  155. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 3:48 am |

    Miss S – how is it deception for a woman to say “Hi! I’m a woman”? IDGI.

    Kait – you waltzed in, gave us your ‘Notes from my boner’ account of how you’ll like, totally fuck anyone, except “a trans or intersex”, and then dare to take the huff when called on your crap?

    LOL. Remember this, even the most special and sparkly of all snowflakes are ultimately indistinguishable from every other sad, grey puddle in the end.

  156. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 3:49 am |

    This is separate comment on the continued discussion of violence against women who were born with a different gender at birth.

    Clearly, in the psyche of many traditional heterosexual men, transgender women occupy a special place of fear, hatred and sometimes even violent and murderous hatred. I unambiguously condemn hatred and especially violence. I suppose that the way that the traditional masculinity has been constructed and adopted by many men is the reason why many are so afraid of fluidity between the genders and women who were born with male genitals in particular. When we talk about partner on partner violence – wouldn’t this risk be minimized by being upfront (in a public setting to diminish the risk of violence) prior to the development of the relationship(sexually or romantically)?

  157. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 4:28 am |

    Yet, it isn’t their job. But it’s their job to provide information so that cis person they are with can make a decision.

    Maybe we can sew a scarlet T onto their clothes…

  158. Christina
    Christina August 2, 2012 at 4:55 am |

    @Partial Human

    Actually, Kait explicitly said she would have no problem dating a trans or intersex person.

  159. petpluto
    petpluto August 2, 2012 at 5:00 am |

    Yet, it isn’t their job. But it’s their job to provide information so that cis person they are with can make a decision.

    No, it isn’t. Because this information isn’t necessarily important (trans women ARE women; trans men ARE men), and because it isn’t like every cis person begins a romantic conversation with, “Hello! The gender I was assigned at birth corresponds to the gender I am!”

    So why expect that of someone else? Now, there are things about me I reveal full stop from the first moment, like certain medical conditions – don’t bring me around livestock or feed me tons of sugar if you want me to be ok – but there’s other stuff that I wait on. Like, I’m an atheist. Now, I’m with the first person I’ve ever dated and he’s my best friend, so he knows – and being an atheist is something I can technically choose and being transgendered is not, etc, etc, etc – but I’m not volunteering that information just so people who believe in God can make a decision. Partially because I’ve had some bad experiences – and those are nothing compared to what trans individuals have ample evidence to worry about.

    Now, if cisgendered individuals DID take it upon themselves to reveal that they are in fact cis, it doesn’t mean that trans individuals have to as well, due to the very real threat of violence and backlash that can occur. It isn’t like that violence isn’t happening. It isn’t like trans folks don’t have a reason to worry about their safety. So saying, “You need to make this thing about yourself apparent so I can decide if I’m transphobic enough to care” is highly inappropriate, and frankly, mean.

  160. roymacIII
    roymacIII August 2, 2012 at 5:40 am |

    To be clear, I may have gotten a bit off topic, because I’m not talking solely about gender/sexuality, but anything that could be considered a deal breaker.

    Why is it a transperson’s obligation to ferret out your deal breakers, though?

    If you have deal breakers, it’s on you to ask about them, not on potential partner’s to guess what they are.

  161. Lyn
    Lyn August 2, 2012 at 6:53 am |

    I know this was from a while ago, but Russkii said:

    “As with regards to comparing one’s gender at birth with views on abortion, having six toes at birth and so on – none of these comparisons are very relevant. I don’t know how not to be crude about this, but basically, genitals are far more part of a sex act than one’s view on a controversial issue is.”

    One’s views on abortion are not some completely random issue that has nothing to do with heterosexual sex – heterosexual sex often carries the risk of pregnancy. Knowing whether or not my sexual partner would want to force me to have birth, to violate my rights to bodily integrity…this is not some random disinterested thing unrelated to the kind of sex I usually have.

    Sorry about the notes from my boner but I care much more about a potential partner being pro-life (which I believe entails thinking that because I have a uterus I am not a human being with rights) than I care about the genitals they were born with. Which goes to show that people’s dealbreakers are varied, what one person thinks is just a random controversial issue that has not much to do with sex might mean something quite different to someone else – and if you have dealbreakers about which you are passionate the onus is on you.

  162. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 7:00 am |

    Oh, and it isn’t cis people’s job to coddle trans people’s feelings.

    Not being a transphobic asshole =/= coddling the feelings of a transgender person

  163. Bad Advice: Should I Tell My Cousin's Boyfriend That She Was … | Love Advice

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  164. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 8:36 am |

    Lyn:

    Would you agree with the following statement: many, if not most heterosexual American men, would consider it to be a dealbreaker that their partner’s gender at birth was male? I am not sure, but I am fairly convinced that this is true even among liberal and progressive heterosexual men. If you agree, then it is logical to presume that for consensual sex above suspicion and without deception to take place, the woman who was assigned a different gender at birth ought to disclose this information before she enters a romantic or a sexual relationship with her partner.

    As for abortion – it’s not the same. No men can prevent a woman from having an abortion in the United States legally, especially her partner. Therefore, I don’t see how this dealbreaker should be divulged without specific prompting any more than one’s view on any other controversial issue.

  165. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb August 2, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    9 out of 10 physicists agree that a phallus emits infrared, magnetic penile gamma rays which enter the brain of a transphobic straight man and put him into a trance-like state where he loses control of his own nervous system

    I don’t think I remember that lecture from my chem class… Makes sense, though. It seems like I’m always hearing about how all-powerful the penis is, so they must have some kind of super power.

  166. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 9:12 am |

    If you agree, then it is logical to presume that for consensual sex above suspicion

    The problem is that the very premise of this is flawed – it is not a matter of “rape”, which is what has been alluded to here. I ran into the very same problem on the women and AIDS thread when I thoughtlessly referenced “informed consent” principles and implied that people who do not disclose their HIV status out of fear for their lives are rapists. (Though I did point out that someone who deliberately conceals their status not out of fear but out of a desire to gain sexual access without also insisting on protection is committing a kind of violence – but ONLY because it involves a communicable disease. So that’s not comparable to being trans. But it’s also not rape, even in that case.) Sexual coercion is not the same as not giving someone your full life history before sex (although the two could obviously occur simultaneously – it doesn’t make that apple more of an orange).

    It does not transfer – being trans is *part* of someone’s identity but it is not the totality of their identity. It’s not the same as pretending to be an entirely different person for the purpose of gaining sexual access. Because knowing every aspect of your partner’s social identity that might be important to *you* is too high of a standard to assume that anyone will know, regardless of the reining prejudices (maybe your potential partner thinks better of you) and especially when the stakes for disclosure realistically involve a violent death (as it absolutely does for trans people and I think maybe even for trans women in particular, especially when the partner in question is a cis man).

    If you want to know, ask.

    If you really want to know, be the kind of partner a trans person feels safe disclosing to. (Note: this will take a herculean effort on your part. Better to just introduce yourself to all potential partners as a transphobic bigot in order to avoid any confusion down the line. Wouldn’t want to have “unconsensual” sex under the guise of not being a transphobic bigot, right?)

    If you really, *really* want to know, fight for a world in which trans people can disclose without fearing public humiliation, loss of employment, and a brutal beating.

  167. David
    David August 2, 2012 at 9:15 am |

    I really think we’ve been pretty clear about this. It’s “cis people’s job” to clearly communicate, if this is the case, that they would not be interested in a relationship with a trans person. This is not complicated.

  168. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 9:17 am |

    If you want to know, ask.

    Seriously. How is this so fucking difficult? I’ll say it again, just so it sinks in.

    If you want to know, ask.

    ASK.

    If the trans person’s dating you, they clearly have no problem dating a cis person. If you have a problem dating trans people, shouldn’t you be the one who’s checking your partners for the Lack Of Holy Cisness?

  169. Kev
    Kev August 2, 2012 at 9:20 am |

    “Sexual coercion is not the same as not giving someone your full life history before sex (although the two could obviously occur simultaneously – it doesn’t make that apple more of an orange).”

    No-one is asking for a “full life history.” They are asking for one piece of information that is MATERIAL to the partner’s willingness to consent. It is intellectually dishonest to frame someone’s transgender status as just another random historical fact of someone’s life, no more or less likely to affect a potential partner’s decision to have sex. The very small chance that it will result in a “beating” does not justify hiding it. As a practical matter, most early dates take place in public places, or someone meets in a bar.

    Also, the notion that men are expected to ask every girl on the first date whether that girl is transgender or not is perhaps the most ridiculious thing I’ve read on the internet. It betrays either intellectual dishonesty or zero knowledge of the way women work. The vast majority of women would be insulted and end the date right then and there. I’m not saying that is morally right, but it is the world we live in.

  170. Kev
    Kev August 2, 2012 at 9:35 am |

    If the trans person’s dating you, they clearly have no problem dating a cis person. If you have a problem dating trans people, shouldn’t you be the one who’s checking your partners for the Lack Of Holy Cisness?

    Have you ever, as a straight man on a first date with a woman, asked such a question? Do you not realize that many women would be simultaneously insulted, creeped out, and probably end the date right there?

  171. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 9:36 am |

    but it is the world we live in.

    Are you at all familiar with why social activism exists? It’s an effort to change the world we live in. Because some of the stuff about the world we live in is CRAP.

    Durr.

    I will repeat, if there is a pertinent piece of information that will prevent you from having sex with someone, it is on you to ask about it.

    A trans woman indentifying as a woman is not being deceitful, because she is a fucking WOMAN. END OF STORY.

  172. Rhoanna
    Rhoanna August 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |

    Also, the notion that men are expected to ask every girl on the first date whether that girl is transgender or not is perhaps the most ridiculious thing I’ve read on the internet. It betrays either intellectual dishonesty or zero knowledge of the way women work. The vast majority of women would be insulted and end the date right then and there. I’m not saying that is morally right, but it is the world we live in.

    No one said you had to ask on the first date. Just before you have sex or do whatever it is that would squick you out if it was with a trans woman. And if giving voice to your bigotry, even in the most tactful form you can think of, results in the date ending… well, who’s problem is that?

  173. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 9:43 am |

    I think you need to look up “intellectual dishonesty”, because this:

    Have you ever, as a straight man on a first date with a woman, asked such a question? Do you not realize that many women would be simultaneously insulted, creeped out, and probably end the date right there?

    is so obnoxiously obtuse in the context of this discussion that I can’t even.

    I CAN’T BE HONEST ABOUT MY DEALBREAKERS COS IT MIGHT DISRUPT MY ABILITY TO GET LAID BUT YA’LL SHOULD TOTALLY ALL BE VOLUNTEERING BEFORE AND AFTER PICS OF YOUR JUNK SO I’M SAVED FROM AWKWARDNESS.

  174. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 9:46 am |

    It must be so hard to be a cissupremacist straight man, gosh, my heart is breaking for you.

  175. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 9:47 am |

    They are asking for one piece of information that is MATERIAL to the partner’s willingness to consent.

    This is not a universal case – not everyone cares. Therefore it cannot be assumed to be universally disclosed. If it is material to your consent, then why would you put yourself at risk to violated so egregiously? Take better care of yourself, man – ask. The world does not revolve around your penis.

  176. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 9:48 am |

    Have you ever, as a straight man on a first date with a woman, asked such a question? Do you not realize that many women would be simultaneously insulted, creeped out, and probably end the date right there?

    Well… then don’t ask until you’re much closer as people? Try not fucking on the first date, if that bothers you so much? (I mean, neither the fucking nor the gender bothers me, but wev.) Alternatively, you could say things like “hey, I really hate trans people. I’d love to (violent act) their (negative adjective) (part of life). If I ever accidentally dated a trans person, I’d do that to them in a flash.”

    If they’re trans (or a trans ally) watch them run and count yourself “lucky”. If they’re cis and asshole, they’ll stay, and what a lovely match you two will be. ^__^

  177. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 9:49 am |

    I CAN’T BE HONEST ABOUT MY DEALBREAKERS COS IT MIGHT DISRUPT MY ABILITY TO GET LAID BUT YA’LL SHOULD TOTALLY ALL BE VOLUNTEERING BEFORE AND AFTER PICS OF YOUR JUNK SO I’M SAVED FROM AWKWARDNESS.

    QFT QFT QFT

    Li, I…I love you.

  178. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    The very small chance that it will result in a “beating”

    http://www.transgenderdor.org/?page_id=4

    That’s a very small chance, huh.

    Well, ain’t the life of a straight cis man hard. *strikes up sad violins*

  179. Kev
    Kev August 2, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    “This is not a universal case – not everyone cares. Therefore it cannot be assumed to be universally disclosed. If it is material to your consent, then why would you put yourself at risk to violated so egregiously? Take better care of yourself, man – ask. The world does not revolve around your penis.”

    What a terrible argument. Not everyone cares about herpes (like people that are also infected), so therefore its OK to omit infected status? Lol at all the anger and hate bubbling beneath the surface on this board. How quickly it all your issues come out with demeaning attacks. I haven’t insulted anyone here- simply came to have a discussion. Instead of staying on point, you display your issues to the world.

    dn’t hv t wrr mch bt ccdntl “dtng” trnsgndr prsn, bcs th wld hv nn-fmnn bdl chrctrstcs r nt wht ‘m ttrctd t.

    And those throwing around the word “bigot” clearly don’t understand the definition of the word. Are gay men bigots because they aren’t attracted to women?

    “I CAN’T BE HONEST ABOUT MY DEALBREAKERS COS IT MIGHT DISRUPT MY ABILITY TO GET LAID BUT YA’LL SHOULD TOTALLY ALL BE VOLUNTEERING BEFORE AND AFTER PICS OF YOUR JUNK SO I’M SAVED FROM AWKWARDNESS.”

    Nice scarecrow.

    And way not to answer my question, and assume that all I’m about is “getting laid.” Nice stereotype of men, hypocrit. Maybe I like being in a loving and committed relationship? Again, in a straight dating situation, any woman would be insulted and end the date right there. Th bttm ln s tht ppl wh r trnsgndr r th xtrm sttscl tlr, nd ts n thm t b p frnt nd hnst bt wh th r. Why wld th wnt t b wth smn wh wldn’t lve thm f th knw th trth, nw?

  180. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |

    What a terrible argument. Not everyone cares about herpes (like people that are also infected), so therefore its OK to omit infected status?

    Nope, we already discussed how trans status /= infected with a communicable disease status. No dice.

    And, you’re right, we’re horribly intolerant of intolerant assholes here. I personally am going to go drive rusty nails through my knees as self-punishment.

  181. Caperton
    Caperton August 2, 2012 at 10:10 am | *

    Mod note here: While I won’t be able to monitor this thread the entire day, I will be stopping by periodically and culling the everliving fuck out of offensive comments. There’s engaging in spirited debate and respectful disagreement, and then there’s insisting on using insulting terminology when you’ve already been asked not to, and there’s insinuating that a trans* woman is secretly not a woman!!1! and is a liar and trying to pull one over on everyone around her. Offensive comments in mod will be deleted, and ones that slip through mod will be disemvowelled.

  182. Kev
    Kev August 2, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    “Well, ain’t the life of a straight cis man hard. *strikes up sad violins*”

    More unnecessary attacks on straight men. I think I overestimated this place.

    Hint for everyone here: When you suggest that people should behave in an utterly unrealistic way that would prevent the majority of straight relatinoships existing on earth from ever happening (Asking a woman on a first date if she was born with a penis), you lose the argument. Your position is a losing one. if your father had asked your mother this question on their first date, you’d have never been born.

  183. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 10:11 am |

    Instead of staying on point, you display your issues to the world.

    Damn, going on your commenting model, I thought our issues *were* the point.

    I don’t have to worry much about accidently “dating” a transgender person, because they would have non-feminine bodily characterstics are not what I’m attracted to.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.

    And way not to answer my question, and assume that all I’m about is “getting laid.” Nice stereotype of men, hypocrit.

    This is the part where I reveal I’m a man and, in my best Ackbar voice, yell “IT’S A TRAP”, right?

  184. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 10:14 am |

    Your position is a losing one. if your father had asked your mother this question on their first date, you’d have never been born.

    On the other hand, I also wouldn’t be trying to manage my insomnia by talking to cissupremacists on the internet…

  185. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    “Well, ain’t the life of a straight cis man hard. *strikes up sad violins*”

    More unnecessary attacks on straight men. I think I overestimated this place.

    Why not think about why that was mentioned in the first place, you idiot?

  186. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 10:30 am |

    Jadey, you wrote: “Sexual coercion is not the same as not giving someone your full life history before sex.” Actually, if you are holding a bit of information which you know may possibly or even likely influence your partner not to have sex with you then this is definitely a deceitful act. In the context of a developing sexual relationship, only a good lawyer could claim with a straight face that this is only a part of “social identity” with no more or less bearing on a straight man’s willingness to consent to a sexual act than the woman’s number of toes at her birth or anything else that I have seen cited here . As for coercion – although this is clearly not rape – there is an element of that as well because the sexual act is based on an implied deception or an outright deception if a person lies about the question (and then it could even be construed as rape – see the discussion surrounding “Rape by deception”).

    Then we get to the next point: “if this is so important, why don’t you just ask?”. My guess is that most heterosexual men would not directly ask this question because they do not think about the possibility that their potential partner could be a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth. Also, many men feel (correctly) that most women would be insulted if asked such a question.

    This is my question: if we agree that this is a dealbreaker for most American heterosexual men, then why would we encourage people from concealing this information while violating the sexual boundaries of heterosexual men?

    As for safety:why not disclose the information in a public place which diminishes the possibility of violence? Also, aren’t men more likely to react violently after they feel that they have been cheated, deceived and violated?I presume that’s typically how men would feel for whom this would be a dealbreaker, and a part of them could or would react violently.

  187. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 10:43 am |

    I have this problem. Like I really don’t want to fuck transphobic fuckknuckles but also I don’t want to have to listen to them be transphobic? How do I find out if my potential sexual/romantic partner is a cissupremacist without them actually having to say it?

  188. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 10:49 am |

    This is my question: if we agree that this is a dealbreaker for most American heterosexual men, then why would we encourage people from concealing this information while violating the sexual boundaries of heterosexual men?

    Trans women aren’t deceiving or violating straight cis men because trans women are women. How many times does this have to be repeated?

    As for safety: why not disclose the information in a public place which diminishes the possibility of violence? Also, aren’t men more likely to react violently after they feel that they have been cheated, deceived and violated? I presume that’s typically how men would feel for whom this would be a dealbreaker, and a part of them could or would react violently.

    Do you really think that a violent transphobic shithead is suddenly going to stop thinking about killing the trans person because both are in an open public place? It’s not like that’s the only place they can think of killing a trans person. They could, for instance, stalk the trans person and then carry out their attack

    What you’re saying reeks of victim-blaming.

  189. roymacIII
    roymacIII August 2, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    Actually, if you are holding a bit of information which you know may possibly or even likely influence your partner not to have sex with you then this is definitely a deceitful act…

    …As for coercion – although this is clearly not rape – there is an element of that as well because the sexual act is based on an implied deception or an outright deception if a person lies about the question

    If your potential partner says that they don’t ever want to be involved with someone with quality X, and you have quality X and hide it from that person so that you can sleep with them, then, yes, I would agree that’s deceptive. But if your potential partner has never said anything about quality X, and you have quality X, then I’m not actually convinced that it’s deceptive not to spontaneously confess to it before sleeping with them. I think that it’s unreasonable to expect that because some people are transphobic that everyone should be required to disclose very intimate details of their life to potential partners.

    This is my question: if we agree that this is a dealbreaker for most American heterosexual men, then why would we encourage people from concealing this information while violating the sexual boundaries of heterosexual men?

    Nobody has encouraged people to conceal anything. What has been said is that it’s up to people to ask if they’re bothered by something or have a deal breaker, and that, otherwise, it’s up to the people involved to decide when and how they want to reveal their past to their partners. If I have a deal breaker, it’s up to me to make that deal breaker explicit, not up to my potential partners to magic 8-Ball out what they are.

  190. David
    David August 2, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    It is intellectually dishonest to frame someone’s transgender status as just another random historical fact of someone’s life, no more or less likely to affect a potential partner’s decision to have sex.

    No, it isn’t. You are making the error of assuming that, because the possibility that someone you are dating might have been assigned the wrong gender at birth is terribly important to you, it is also important to the person so wrongly assigned.

    You need to know that this is very often not the case. A congenital medical condition that was long ago diagnosed and treated is not really that important, sorry. Just because it’s so interesting to you does not require a woman who has had this experience to make it the center of her identity and treat it as something she needs to keep talking about over and over and over and over. To her it very well could be “just another random historical fact,” and a pretty boring one at that after years of living authentically.

    Since you’re the one to whom it is much more than that, the onus is on you to make that known. Sorry, but you don’t get to demand that everyone else treat your personal prejudice as if it’s universal. It’s yours, please own it.

  191. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 2, 2012 at 11:28 am |

    This is my question: if we agree that this is a dealbreaker for most American heterosexual men, then why would we encourage people from concealing this information while violating the sexual boundaries of heterosexual men?

    First of all, people in this country expect a certain right to privacy, in fact, it’s constitutionally protected. So, it is not people on this thread encouraging concealment, concealment of private information is the default setting encouraged by the 14th amendment.

    On the question of consent:
    If we can reasonably assume that most Americans would not want to sleep with someone who was related to Osama Bin Laden, would you insist that anyone related to him reveal that information up front upon meeting a potential sex partner?

  192. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    You know what is transphobic as hell? Assuming that everyone and their brother would of course be all ‘Eww, trans lady!’ if they found out their girlfriend was assigned male at birth.

  193. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    If we can reasonably assume that most Americans would not want to sleep with someone who was related to Osama Bin Laden, would you insist that anyone related to him reveal that information up front upon meeting a potential sex partner?

    What, Steve, you mean you don’t ask people this as a matter of course? I always ask about their connections to terrorist organisations before we order drinks!

    …wait, I’m sensing a problem with my heterosexual dating skillz here…

    DAMN YOU OSAMA I CAN’T GET LAID BECAUSE I’M SO SCARED OF YOU

  194. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm |

    Fat Steve: with regards to example – I don’t think that this falls into a category of issues which need to be disclosed prior to the sexual encounter simply because her relatives have nothing to do with the sex while her genitals do. As for the issue of privacy – yes, I agree in general, but I do not think that this right to privacy extends to bedroom. Sexual act is inherently private and both parties to sex have the right to information which is likely to influence their decision to engage in consensual sex. This is even more true in a protracted relationship where the man, as in the scenario given here, is obviously operating under the assumption that his girlfriend was a female at birth.

  195. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

    Fat Steve: with regards to example – I don’t think that this falls into a category of issues which need to be disclosed prior to the sexual encounter simply because her relatives have nothing to do with the sex while her genitals do. As for the issue of privacy – yes, I agree in general, but I do not think that this right to privacy extends to bedroom. Sexual act is inherently private and both parties to sex have the right to information which is likely to influence their decision to engage in consensual sex. This is even more true in a protracted relationship where the man, as in the scenario given here, is obviously operating under the assumption that his girlfriend was a female at birth.

    So if I’ve had a mole removed from my penis, then I have to reveal that to every sexual partner I have?

    N.B. hypothetical mole, hypothetical penis

  196. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

    Russkii – I’ll ask again, because you didn’t answer last time – what is so materially different (and apparently terrible) about a trans woman’s vagina, that someone who normally likes vaginas would be put off?

    I’d love to know.

  197. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm |

    her relatives have nothing to do with the sex while her genitals do

    So you would also argue that someone who had labiaplasty or penile implants is also obligated to let their partner know, because, you know.. that’s not what it always looked like?

    Dear Gord, we can’t have people messing with the sacred genitalia!

  198. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm |

    Oh, and as my other comment has apparently vanished into the ether, this is for Li, mac, caperton, Jadey and David – sloths in onesies

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRJlj8bkx4c

  199. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

    Sloths are for Andie too, for recognising the sacred and untouchable nature of pants-parts.

  200. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm |

    Sloths are for Andie too,

    SILLY RABBIT! SLOTHS ARE FOR ANDIE!

  201. Rhoanna
    Rhoanna August 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

    with regards to example – I don’t think that this falls into a category of issues which need to be disclosed prior to the sexual encounter simply because her relatives have nothing to do with the sex while her genitals do.

    Yes, genitals have to do with sex. But one’s having sex with the current genitals, not past genitals. If you, for whatever reason, care about what their genitals were in the past, ask. It’s not incumbent on everyone else to guess that you would care about that.

  202. David
    David August 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |

    Russkii, of course genitals have to do with sex. And if one’s genitals would be a surprise to a new partner for some reason, I agree that a heads-up beforehand is probably a good idea.

    That isn’t the case in our theoretical discussion, though. There are people trying to make an issue of what a person’s genitals may have looked like in the past, not now. Can you explain what the previous appearance of someone’s genitals would have to do with the sex they are having now?

  203. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 2, 2012 at 1:07 pm |

    I should also add that if a trans person asked my opinion, I would tell them they should be upfront about everything if there was any chance of or interest in a long term relationship. And if they didn’t feel they could share the information, I might suggest that the person they’re with is not long term relationship material.

    However, I wouldn’t dream of forcing someone to take my advice.

  204. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

    Also, many men feel (correctly) that most women would be insulted if asked such a question.

    I’ve been asked by a guy who thought I would find it insulting. I’m deeply unimpressed by women who are insulted by this question and by the guy that thought this was a reasonable neg.

    How do I find out if my potential sexual/romantic partner is a cissupremacist without them actually having to say it?

    I actually list that out on my dating profile and it’s largely been respected. In life, it’s enough of a dealbreaker for me that I usually can find a way to bring it up in conversation. I know you’re totally being facetious, but to bigot-folk: if I can bring up my dealbreakers, so can you.

  205. konkonsn
    konkonsn August 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    Also, many men feel (correctly) that most women would be insulted if asked such a question.

    Well then she’d be perfect for you since she’s a cissexist asshole herself.

    Also, regarding Russkii’s genitals and sex. So, like, people generally do other things than just touch their lower bits during intercourse. Should a partner disclose all physical changes to their bodies since birth? You know, my feet used to be a lot smaller than they currently are; is that gonna be a dealbreaker for you?

  206. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

    I’ve just realised, my boobs were an after-market add-on. I wasn’t born with them AFAIK. Pretty sure these aren’t my original teeth either.

    What do the “You weren’t born with that!” crowd think I should do about it?

  207. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

    Fat Steve: having removed a hypothetical mole from your hypothetical penis does not in my view require you to state this without being asked directly about any surgeries on your genitals because most partners would not care about this issue – and same goes with the number of toes you had at your birth, your view on abortion, your family background, breast implants, penis enhancement surgery, whatever. These are the issues which one must be honest about when asked vaguely or directly, but do not require one to state openly.

    Partial Human (and David): sorry that I missed your question. To be honest I don’t know what’s the difference between the vagina of a woman who was born a woman and woman who was assigned another gender at birth, but apparently, not much (if anything). However, what is relevant (in this case) is the perception of the trans woman’s vagina by her male partner. His consent is likely based on the assumption that his partner was the same gender at birth. Given that this ties into the question of his consent and the fact that majority of American heterosexual man clearly feel this way, I believe that the woman should disclose her past prior to engaging in a sexual relationship.

  208. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

    The fact that I have to add “person” at the end of every term is pathetic. As I said, that should go without saying. Apparently I have to add that though because you guys might forget that they are in fact people.

    Again, not wanting to sleep with or be in a relationship with someone because they’ve surgically altered their genitals does not automatically that person transphobic.
    Even though the transsexual person is by all means a real woman or man, the fact still remains that not everyone wants to fuck/be with someone who was not born a biological female/male.
    HOW DARE THEY!!!

    By all means, go and ahead continue comparing genitals to cataracts and gallbladders.

    As for the term POC. I would never say that to a black person or friend because id prefer not to be laughed at for being an overly cautious PC white person whose deathly afraid of offending anyone.

    I’m not racist or transphobic therefore I don’t feel the need to walk on eggshells or coddle anyone with hyper sensitive terminology and wording.

  209. petpluto
    petpluto August 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

    His consent is likely based on the assumption that his partner was the same gender at birth.

    Any trans person who frequents this site can correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like this is the crux of the issue. A trans woman is not a woman who used to be a man. A trans woman has always been a woman – she just did not have a body that corresponded with her actual gender. Same goes for trans men.

    Which gets back to the fact that making disclosure to their respective partners a requirement for all trans individuals without any indication other than a statement by you that a “majority” of cisgendered heterosexual men would have this as a dealbreaker that it is indeed a dealbreaker for their prospective partners is harmful. It translates as “you don’t think I was always the person I’m presenting myself as – the person I know myself to be” or even worse “you don’t think I am ther person I’m presenting myself as – the person I know myself to be”.

  210. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

    Oh wow. Mac, you hear that? Don’t ever call yourself a WOC, cos Kait will get mad at you for being PC!

    Wait, my Babelfish is burbling in my lugs. She says:

    Burble burble – “,I am just not PC” burble… late 20th century Earthspeak for “I’m an arse”

    Thanks Fishy!

  211. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    The fact that I have to add “person” at the end of every term is pathetic. As I said, that should go without saying. Apparently I have to add that though because you guys might forget that they are in fact people.

    Do you even know why we’re asking people to use inclusive language?

    Again, not wanting to sleep with or be in a relationship with someone because they’ve surgically altered their genitals does not automatically that person transphobic.
    Even though the transsexual person is by all means a real woman or man, the fact still remains that not everyone wants to fuck/be with someone who was not born a biological female/male.
    HOW DARE THEY!!!

    Show me how it can be not transphobic and perhaps I’ll change my mind. All you’ve been doing is asserting your point without backing it up.

    And my example about the cataract was not to compare cataracts with genitals. I was simply highlighting the special pleading inherent in saying that not wanting to be in a relationship with trans person because they are a trans person doesn’t have to be transphobic.

  212. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    I’m not racist or transphobic therefore I don’t feel the need to walk on eggshells or coddle anyone with hyper sensitive terminology and wording.

    Oh, oh, this is going on a sampler. Who around here does needlepoint?

    Also, someone remember to tell all the trans people who have asked SydneyKait to not refer to them in dehumanizing terms that they are transphobic and also pass a message on to the POC who prefer that term to other generalized ways of referring to people of colour that they are racist. And also overly cautious PC white people (wow, I bet that’s going to be a surprise!).

    Remember, it’s only racist or transphobic if SydneyKait says it is!

    @ Partial Human

    Baby sloths gave me a much needed giggle, thank you! (Damn their gender essentialism, though!)

  213. Donna L
    Donna L August 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    most partners would not care about . . . your view on abortion

    Really? I know a great many people who wouldn’t date a forced birther.

  214. petpluto
    petpluto August 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

    The fact that I have to add “person” at the end of every term is pathetic. As I said, that should go without saying. Apparently I have to add that though because you guys might forget that they are in fact people.

    Hint: it’s not about us guys. It could be about you. It could be about the fact that trans folk have often been dehumanized, and that combating that in language and in deed is important.

    As for the term POC. I would never say that to a black person or friend because id prefer not to be laughed at for being an overly cautious PC white person whose deathly afraid of offending anyone.

    Personally, I’m less concerned with getting laughed at for being PC than I am with making sure the terms I use are acceptable by the particular person/community I’m talking about/to, but that’s just me. If your friends use the term black to describe themselves and have no problem with you doing the same, more power to you.

  215. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

    Petpluto, I agree that my suggestions that this information be divulged immediately can be harmful to the woman who was assigned a different gender at birth because it could be perceived as a direct attack on her identity. But I am coming to this debate from the position of the right of a heterosexual man to consent to a sexual act based on accurate information.

    You say that this is just a statement from me. I don’t have the statistics to prove it, but I am fairly sure that you and most people here would agree that for the average heterosexual American man this is would be dealbreaker which is invariably tied in with the question of consent. Since we know this – and obviously the woman in the example which we are discussing is aware of this as I am sure almost all women in her situation are – the correct thing to do is to divulge the information prior to anything sexually taking place.

  216. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm |

    The fact that I have to add “person” at the end of every term is pathetic.

    Waaaaaah. Does typing those extra six letters make your widdle fingies hurt?

  217. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    Mxe 354: “Show me how it can be not transphobic and perhaps I’ll change my mind.” Most men would not want to sleep with a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth. Who cares why? It does not matter. Consent does not have to be explained. I suspect, however, that it has to do with how the men in question define their sexuality and their refusal to acknowledge the woman in question as “a real woman”.

  218. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    However, what is relevant (in this case) is the perception of the trans woman’s vagina by her male partner.

    Got it. Cis dudes perception of a woman’s vagina > a trans woman’s perception of her own gender.

    Gotcha. It all comes down to dude’s boner.

  219. Andie
    Andie August 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    their refusal to acknowledge the woman in question as “a real woman”

    and refusing to acknowledge a trans woman as a real woman is TRANSFUCKINGPHOBIC.

    GAWD.

  220. Miss S
    Miss S August 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    Roy, i posted in a previous comment that I would ask about anything I considered a deal breaker.

  221. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    Personally, I’m less concerned with getting laughed at for being PC than I am with making sure the terms I use are acceptable by the particular person/community I’m talking about/to, but that’s just me.

    Word.

  222. Russkii
    Russkii August 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm |

    ANdie: “Got it. Cis dudes perception of a woman’s vagina > a trans woman’s perception of her own gender. Gotcha. It all comes down to dude’s boner.” Not really, the same issues can arise in lesbian relationships.

  223. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    Most men would not want to sleep with a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth. Who cares why? It does not matter. Consent does not have to be explained. I suspect, however, that it has to do with how the men in question define their sexuality and their refusal to acknowledge the woman in question as “a real woman”.

    …Still transphobic.

  224. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

    Not really, the same issues can arise in lesbian relationships.

    Given your arguments hinge on the “majority” nature of transphobic dealbreakers in the cis het guy population, you should probably avoid bringing in the queer community to try to back yourself up. It’s not going to end well.

  225. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm |

    Not really, the same issues can arise in lesbian relationships.

    And it’s still transphobic then. That’s not a new conversation at all.

  226. Lauren M
    Lauren M August 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

    Petpluto, I agree that my suggestions that this information be divulged immediately can be harmful to the woman who was assigned a different gender at birth because it could be perceived as a direct attack on her identity. But I am coming to this debate from the position of the right of a heterosexual man to consent to a sexual act based on accurate information.

    You say that this is just a statement from me. I don’t have the statistics to prove it, but I am fairly sure that you and most people here would agree that for the average heterosexual American man this is would be dealbreaker which is invariably tied in with the question of consent. Since we know this – and obviously the woman in the example which we are discussing is aware of this as I am sure almost all women in her situation are – the correct thing to do is to divulge the information prior to anything sexually taking place.

    @russkii – so explain to me. you are attracted to a person in a bar. you go up to them, buy them a drink. chat them up a while. wow, sparks are flying. you really like them, their looks, personality, etc. also, they have the parts you are interested in (y’know, down there) – what changes when you learn about something they used to have?

    i used to have short hair, i used to weigh much less – what bearing does this have on someone who finds me attractive as i currently am?

    this is still the same person you found attractive, still the same person who has a personality you like…..

    as far as i’m concerned, as a cis-woman i do not have the right to say what i think about anyone’s duty to disclose or not, but to me it seems like a non issue. i mean, if the notes that you are getting from your boner all say “yes….”

  227. valentifan69
    valentifan69 August 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm |

    “I’ll ask again, because you didn’t answer last time – what is so materially different (and apparently terrible) about a trans woman’s vagina, that someone who normally likes vaginas would be put off?”

    Surely there’s a material difference – one’s a muscular canal with its own structure, the other’s a surgical created cavity created in someone’s pelvis and coated with intestine in the case of colovaginoplasty or penile skin in the case of penile inversion. You can use the word vagina in both cases, and they might look cosmetically the same, but they’re anatomically nothing alike.

    If someone consents to something being stuck somewhere that wish should be respected. Because of the anatomical differences sex isn’t the same act people think they’re signing up for – I really think it’s akin to consenting to PiV sex and having someone stick a bunch of fingers in you without asking or consenting to vaginal fingering but having someone go for your ass.

    Also, the “Assigned Male at Birth” is kind of questionable way of putting it, it implies social construction is the main problem. I’m not sure, I think the main objection is really the anatomical “Used To Have a Penis”. I think if they’d ticked the female box at birth people would still be arguing, and it’s physical reality not social identity causing the issue.

  228. Lauren M
    Lauren M August 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    non-issue was the wrong phrasing – what i meant was, it wasn’t my right to pontificate on someone else’s duties that i have no idea about. obviously it is an issue that is close to many people’s hearts and minds. sorry.

  229. petpluto
    petpluto August 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    But I am coming to this debate from the position of the right of a heterosexual man to consent to a sexual act based on accurate information.

    A trans woman identifying as a woman is accurate information, though. What you’re asking is for a trans woman to not only acknowledge but also accept that isn’t a truth accepted by certain transphobic men.

    Everyone is allowed their deal breakers. I couldn’t be with someone who doesn’t cook. What everyone isn’t allowed is for partners to know the deal breakers intrinsically and voice where they don’t measure up. If a lot of heterosexual cis men have problems with sleeping with trans women (and I think you’re right about the reason men would have a problem) then it’s still on them to confirm that their partner isn’t trans. Just like I ask if a guy can cook and if he has any thoughts on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If I didn’t ask, I have no leg to stand on later when it turns out that the guy can’t cook and hates BtVS, it’s on me. Even though neither of those things correspond to genitals, it operates in the same space. I am responsible for making sure my own deal breakers are met.

  230. valentifan69
    valentifan69 August 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

    Got it. Cis dudes perception of a woman’s vagina > a trans woman’s perception of her own gender.

    Yes. Your perception of whether you consent to sex > my perception of whether you consent to sex. Surely that shouldn’t be controversial here of all places?

  231. Lasciel
    Lasciel August 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    “Most men would not want to sleep with a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth. Who cares why? It does not matter. Consent does not have to be explained. I suspect, however, that it has to do with how the men in question define their sexuality and their refusal to acknowledge the woman in question as “a real woman”.”

    So you admit it’s transphobic, but think we should humor that transphobia to avoid consent issues. What’s next, we should do a full ancestry research on ourselves before we sleep with someone to humor their possible racist fears?

    Why don’t they just disclose that they’re a racist transphobic asshole first, and then we’ll know what to tell them. Because I’m sure that’s a dealbreaker for a lot of people. I think there could be a consent issue there. Cis women should be made aware if they’re going to sleep with a creep.

    But hey, where’d you get “most men” from, anyway? Is this just YOUR emotions you’re projecting on all men, or is there any actual data on how men feel about dating trans* people?

    Anyway, I’m just going to opt for a “choose not to warn” disclosure, aka, make it up front that I’m not telling anyone shit about my medical history, criminal history, gender identity, or anything else until I feel like it, and if they don’t like risking the unknown, they don’t have to sleep with me.

  232. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm |

    Also, the “Assigned Male at Birth” is kind of questionable way of putting it, it implies social construction is the main problem. I’m not sure, I think the main objection is really the anatomical “Used To Have a Penis”. I think if they’d ticked the female box at birth people would still be arguing, and it’s physical reality not social identity causing the issue.

    You’re ignoring the fact that many people perceive having a penis as inextricably tied to having a male social identity.

  233. Donna L
    Donna L August 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

    Of all the disgustingly transphobic comments on this thread so far, I think valentifan69′s is the worst; we’re getting into janice raymond territory here. Essentially, she’s saying that a trans woman’s vagina might look like a vagina cosmetically, but it’s as different from a “real” vagina as someone’s anus. (Which is a common trope of radfem transphobes. by the way: just as they refuse to use the proper pronoun for trans women, they refuse to use the word “vagina” when it belongs to a trans woman who’s had GRS; they prefer terms like “second asshole,” or worse.)

    An outstanding contribution indeed.

  234. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm |

    Because of the anatomical differences sex isn’t the same act people think they’re signing up for – I really think it’s akin to consenting to PiV sex and having someone stick a bunch of fingers in you without asking or consenting to vaginal fingering but having someone go for your ass.

    Go away forever.

    Seriously, transfolks on this thread? So much sympathy for having to deal with this crap.

  235. Donna L
    Donna L August 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    I’m just about ready to bow out from this conversation. It’s too much.

  236. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

    Yeah, Donna, that’s highly understandable. Ugh. YOU PEOPLE THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

  237. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

    Okay, for reals now, this is not an issue of consent. This is not “rape by deception”.

    I find certain political views utterly appalling. I certainly do not want to have an intimate sexual relationship with anyone who endorses these views. I endeavour to suss out such political views early on in any relationship with a reasonable potential of leading to such activities.

    Should I, upon having sex with someone, find out after the fact that they possess these (to me) appalling political views, I would be upset, annoyed, probably seriously regret having had sex with this person and would definitely be questioning my own taste in sexual partners. But I would not be raped.

    I. Would. Not. Be. Raped.

    Regret is not rape. (Although certainly people who have been raped may regret the circumstances around their rape).

    What I’m seeing here is some people (most of whom I’m guessing are cis men) appropriating narratives of rape and sexual coercion to perpetuate transphobia, and it’s disgusting, especially given how much we have had to fight for the experiences of rape survivors to be recognized. It’s an insult to trans people and to people who have been raped. (And, in our society, those groups definitely overlap disproportionately.)

  238. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |

    I’ve just realised, my boobs were an after-market add-on. I wasn’t born with them AFAIK. Pretty sure these aren’t my original teeth either.

    What do the “You weren’t born with that!” crowd think I should do about it?

    Clearly everyone, ever, is a retroactive pedophile.

    Not really, the same issues can arise in lesbian relationships.

    You clearly know not what of the fuck you speak.

  239. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |

    Clearly everyone, ever, is a retroactive pedophile.

    This reminds me of something Rebecca @ The Thang Blog posted a little while ago: Lucian Kahn of Schmekel answers questions about being trans

    Some choice quotes:

    How did you know you were in the wrong body?

    Well, I was stuck outside on the planet Hoth, so I cut open my tauntaun and slept inside for warmth. But the smell…

    How did you get that beard?

    Most of it grew as a result of bi-weekly testosterone injections. The rest, I stole from a moose.

    And the perfect one for this thread:

    But you used to be female. Does that mean you are really female?

    You used to be a fetus. Does that mean you are really a fetus?

    I figure we all need a laugh right now.

    @ Donna (and other trans people participating or lurking on this thread)

    *optional internet hug* Please take care.

  240. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

    Okay, what the fuck, why are my comments disappearing? This is the second that’s gone AWOL.

  241. Lauren M
    Lauren M August 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

    and i’m starting to feel really badly about never disclosing to any of my sexual partners, ever, that my vulva and vagina were significantly marred by a serious bathtub accident when i was 5. stitches and everything. it was surgeried upon! how will they ever forgive me for raping them with my not-as-birthed va-jay-jay?

  242. Li
    Li August 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

    What I’m seeing here is some people (most of whom I’m guessing are cis men) appropriating narratives of rape and sexual coercion to perpetuate transphobia, and it’s disgusting, especially given how much we have had to fight for the experiences of rape survivors to be recognized. It’s an insult to trans people and to people who have been raped. (And, in our society, those groups definitely overlap disproportionately.)

    I’m particularly enjoying the rejoinders about consent while simultaneously insisting that having to be up front about dealbreakers (newflash kids, negotiating consent is a two-way street) is the worst thing ever.

  243. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    @Sydneykait,

    As for the term POC. I would never say that to a black person or friend because id prefer not to be laughed at for being an overly cautious PC white person whose deathly afraid of offending anyone.

    Awesome! Just remember that not all POC are black, you generalising shithead. And I’m so glad your “blackpersonsorfriends” (interesting splitting of roles there) are totally cool with you calling them whatever, but some of us really don’t want to hear your racist/sexist/transphobic spew (pick what applies) occurring simultaneous to your saying that you are absolutely incapable of racist/transphobic/sexist (pick what applies) statements. Because you’re not a transphobe, because you said so on the internet that once. Riiiiight.

    PH,

    Thanks for the shoutout, the asshole-to-English translation and the sloths!

  244. chava
    chava August 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |

    you know, a friend of mine was born with no vagina (external vulva and ovaries, but no vag or uterus). She had the surgery to create one at 18. She’s not trans, it was just a rare anatomical defect.

    Is *she* obligated to disclose that her vag isn’t “real”?

  245. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    Because of the anatomical differences sex isn’t the same act people think they’re signing up for

    One of my best friends had cervical cancer and they had to reshape large parts of her genitalia before she could regain functionality. I guess that makes her a… transwoman? cisguy? realman? actualwoman? I’m not sure. It does seem to make her a rapist, though. Imma call her up RIGHT NOW and tell her all about how she’s been raping her common-law husband for years. It’ll just make her day!

    it was surgeried upon! how will they ever forgive me for raping them with my not-as-birthed va-jay-jay?

    Lauren, they’ll never forgive you. Hell, I’ll never forgive you. You are a rapey rapey person and hereby barred from the Feminist Treehouse Club for your rapey rapitude. *solemn nod*

    You can join us over here at the “People who are now deemed pedophiles for being attracted to former children” treehouse, though, if you like?

  246. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb August 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    Also, many men feel (correctly) that most women would be insulted if asked such a question.

    Here’s a way you can ask a lady if she ever had a penis without insulting her AND without sounding like a transphobic douche, even if ya are:

    “I recently was reading an advice column about how this transwoman hadn’t told her bf she was trans. Who wouldn’t tell their boyfriend that kind of thing? She must not trust him very much. You’d say something if that were our situation, wouldn’t you? I mean, I know I’d tell you.”

    You’re asking in a way that makes it seem like you’re not gonna up and kill her if she isn’t cis, and it’d make you like all sensitive and accepting, which even cis girls think is a turn-on…. So much so that it might even get you laid even sooner. (Of course, if you don’t actually feel that way you may be undermining some poor cis girl’s ability to give informed consent, since she’d be thinking you were this sweet, non-bigoted guy when really you’re just a transphobic ass, but who cares, so long as you get laid, right?)

    If it’s really important to you, you’d better find a way to ask, or just don’t have sex with anyone you haven’t seen naked baby pics of.

  247. cherrybomb
    cherrybomb August 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    gah, should say “look all sensitive and accepting,” not “like all sensitive and accepting”

  248. Lauren M
    Lauren M August 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

    Lauren, they’ll never forgive you. Hell, I’ll never forgive you. You are a rapey rapey person and hereby barred from the Feminist Treehouse Club for your rapey rapitude. *solemn nod*

    You can join us over here at the “People who are now deemed pedophiles for being attracted to former children” treehouse, though, if you like?

    well, i guess as long as it gets me into a treehouse. unless your treehouse has a tire-swing out front that wasn’t there when it was built. that is a DEALBREAKER!

  249. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    well, i guess as long as it gets me into a treehouse. unless your treehouse has a tire-swing out front that wasn’t there when it was built. that is a DEALBREAKER!

    *sniff* The very idea! I grow my tire-swings organically, by infusing my trees with the spirits of cars, thank you very much. Mine grows from the tree and is made of branches.

    Wait. You…you’ve swung in artificial tire swings? That’s just unnatural.

  250. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

    I’m particularly enjoying the rejoinders about consent while simultaneously insisting that having to be up front about dealbreakers (newflash kids, negotiating consent is a two-way street) is the worst thing ever.

    Yup. The height of entitlement. Everyone must rearrange the world to suit my preference…and also you should *know* my preferences because, I said so.

  251. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    Most men would not want to sleep with a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth.

    How on earth could you know that? Obviously anyone in this situation wanted to sleep with a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth. If learning about her history causes the man to change his mind, then surely that’s more about something he doesn’t like about himself.

  252. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue August 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    I haven’t been commenting in this thread because the idea of someone telling me when I have to come out agitates me, but I wanted to give a big thanks to everyone supporting trans* women in this thread and a big Eat Shit to all the transphobic assholes.

  253. Donna L
    Donna L August 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    I doubt that valentifan69 is a cis man. The rhetoric is too familiar. Especially the attempt to arouse disgust (and validate the comparison to a different orifice) by mentioning colovaginoplasty — which makes it sound that this person has actually read things about trans women and GRS, etc., in order to make it sound like they know what they’re talking about (a little knowledge being a dangerous thing). Something a self-identified radfem transphobe crusading to spread her “truth” is far more likely to do than your average cis male bigot.

    But there’s nothing less “real” about a colovaginoplasty, and in any event it’s probably been a decade since I’ve heard of anyone having that done given all the problems with it. I don’t even know if any surgeons perform that kind of GRS anymore.

    As for Sydney Kait and hir difficulty in distinguishing between nouns and adjectives, and in understanding that not every descriptive adjective like “trans” or “intersex” can also be used as a singular noun, I guess she calls someone from England an English? From France, a French? From the Netherlands, a Dutch? From Poland, a Polish? Etc., etc.? I don’t understand why this is so difficult. The kind of “ally” who can’t even lift a finger (to type another word with 6 letters) to use inclusive language isn’t the kind of ally trans people need.

  254. EG
    EG August 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    I cannot even believe some of the shit getting said in this thread. Nobody has the “right” to know something about another person’s history unless it materially affects them (i.e. previous children). If that makes you uncomfortable, don’t sleep with anybody whose history in whatever aspect is meaningful to you is unclear to you. Problem solved.

    It seems that what a lot of men are whining about here is “Bu-bu-bu-but then I have to invest some time and energy in talking to a casual sex partner like she’s a real human being!”

    Yes, yes you do. Even if what you say puts her off.

  255. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm |

    Sophia, Donna, Becca, and anyone else lurking about,

    *hugs* if you want them.

    Also, you guys rock this hard in delivering your middle fingers to society: http://images.wikia.com/uncyclopedia/images/d/da/Tyrion_slaps_Joffrey.gif Please don’t let the transphobes fuck with your day, if you’re feeling out of spoons!

  256. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

    As for Sydney Kait and hir difficulty in distinguishing between nouns and adjectives, and in understanding that not every descriptive adjective like “trans” or “intersex” can also be used as a singular noun, I guess she calls someone from England an English?

    Or someone from India a coolie, probably. Since, you know, they’re not racist, because they said so on the internet, and they don’t believe in PC language.

    Especially the attempt to arouse disgust (and validate the comparison to a different orifice) by mentioning colovaginoplasty

    Well, and frankly, that doesn’t sound more disgusting than any other medical procedure done on the body (speaking as someone with major phobias about seeing body parts, etc). I’ve had friends who needed skin grafts, bone supports welded on the inside of their body (I don’t know the exact terms there) and somehow, somehow, I was able to look at them and see “friends” instead of “person who’s had X procedure”. It wasn’t even tough.

    And okay, TMI, severe vaginal pain from penetration except under extremely specific circumstances. It seems like the end result of GRS would actually give a trans woman more functional ladybits than mine, where het men are concerned, So, from the POV that all of us women exist to Sexually Please The Almighty Cock, I seem to be a lot more broken by any other measure, so the only reason left isthey’re fucking transphobic douchebags.

  257. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

    That should be “I have severe vaginal pain”

  258. David
    David August 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    Most men would not want to sleep with a woman who was assigned a different gender at birth. Who cares why? It does not matter. Consent does not have to be explained. I suspect, however, that it has to do with how the men in question define their sexuality and their refusal to acknowledge the woman in question as “a real woman”.

    It seems that you have a specific prejudice concerning sex with women who were incorrectly assigned as male, and have obtained the standard medical treatment for that condition. That’s your business, you have every right to decide who you have sex with, and you’re not obligated to explain why.

    Unfortunately, you don’t stop there. What you are really demanding is that all such women silently internalize your prejudice about them, thereby saving you from the discomfort of having to take responsibility for what is important to you. You want them to take care of it for you.

    You have no right to expect anyone to do that. While everyone accepts that some people may reject them as a partner, no one should be expected to go through life with the default assumption that everyone would, such that they have to make a special request for consent. Think about that. Your criterion that your partner be cisgender is your issue, not hers. If it’s that important to you, find a way to deal with it that respects the dignity of both of you.

    I’m sorry. I know it’s uncomfortable for you to hear that people aren’t going to honor what you obviously think of as a birthright. It’s not a birthright. It’s just your position of privilege.

  259. Chiara
    Chiara August 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

    I doubt that valentifan69 is a cis man. The rhetoric is too familiar. Especially the attempt to arouse disgust (and validate the comparison to a different orifice) by mentioning colovaginoplasty — which makes it sound that this person has actually read things about trans women and GRS, etc., in order to make it sound like they know what they’re talking about (a little knowledge being a dangerous thing). Something a self-identified radfem transphobe crusading to spread her “truth” is far more likely to do than your average cis male bigot.

    i dunno… from what I remember of valentifan’s previous comments she thinks that having a vibrator in one’s luggage is akin to taking a shit in one’s luggage and the wage gap is a big media hoax.

    i think she probably considers herself a tell-it-like-it-is, two-steps-ahead-of-the-pack Camille Paglia type.

  260. Donna L
    Donna L August 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

    I’d like to second Sophia Blue’s comment. As extremely painful as this (and similar) threads have been for me, it makes me very happy to see so many non-trans people — including cis women and men — be such good allies, and be willing to speak up and be so supportive, in a completely non-condescending way.

    Before I began commenting regularly here 8 or 9 months ago, I had heard about — and seen myself — a lot of dismissiveness and cissexism among even the regular commentariat about trans issues and trans people’s lives, even apart from open transphobia. And by the time I did start commenting, most of the trans people who had been regular commenters in the past didn’t seem to be around anymore.

    But even in the relatively short time period since then, I really believe that the atmosphere has changed for the better.

  261. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm |

    Valentifan – my apologies to your parents. They must have been devastated when they realised they’d been raising the afterbirth. and their actual baby was AWOL. Still, congrats to them for teaching you to communicate, however ineffectively.

    Right, to you, and Russki, and the other spoogeflakes who are apparently fucking simultaneously making the “I COULD TELL!” and “TRANS WOMEN ARE RAPISTS!” arguments (even though they cancel each other out), I wanna tell you some things.

    1) Trans women are women

    2) Gynephiles are attracted to, and have sex with women.

    3) If you’re cissexist enough that you can’t be bothered to ask “Was your vagina surgically constructed?” prior to sex with a woman, IT IS NOT RAPE IF YOU CONSENT.

    4) Your Janice Raymond/Germaine Greer/[insert transphobic clown] theories about trans women and their vaginas are giving me second-hand embarrassment. Oh and rage, because you’re fucking disgusting and bigoted.
    Those that I’ve encountered look, smell, and feel just like mine. Fancy that eh? Vaginas and vulvas that look like vaginas and vulvas.

    Now go away, stop fucking hurting people with your ignorance and hate.

    Piss off.

  262. Sarah Dalton
    Sarah Dalton August 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm |

    This has probably already been said, but categorizing trans identity alongside substance abuse, criminal record, and STIs is a shitty thing to do (categorizing it along with severe medical issues is also not cool in a different way).

  263. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

    The fact that I have to add “person” at the end of every term is pathetic. As I said, that should go without saying. Apparently I have to add that though because you guys might forget that they are in fact people.

    You seem to be pretty good at using standard grammar, in general. So allow me to explain this again. “Trans,” “transgender,” and “intersex” are NOT NOUNS. In other words, it’s grammatically non-standard to write “a trans” or “a transgender.” And you don’t have to follow these adjectives with the word “person” every time. Feel free to call me a “trans woman,” a “trans atheist,” or even a “trans jerk.” But I am not simply “a trans” anymore than I am simply “a tall” or “a good” or “an angry” because all of these words are adjectives and to say these things would be ungrammatical.

    However, it is OK to call me “a transsexual” because “transsexual” is both an adjective and a noun. See? This has more to do with grammar than it does with political correctness. There are plenty of people who say “a trans” who are just ignorant or poor writers. However, there’s a group of people who say “a trans,” and yet miraculously seem to use almost every adjective in the English language correctly. So why would people intentionally use non-standard grammar only when referring to trans people? Answer: most of these people are transphobes. Usage of the term “a trans” is especially popular among self-identified “trans-critical radical feminists.” These are the types of people who oppose non-discrimination laws protecting transgender people from being fired, who oppose government insurance paying for trans-related medical treatments, etc. In other words, they’re bigots.

    In conclusion, use whatever words you want. But I will tell how most trans people and their allies will perceive you if you continue to use phrases like “a trans.” They will perceive as either a) a poor, inarticulate writer. b) someone who is extremely ignorant about trans issues. or c) someone who is an opponent of trans people and their rights. I used to think you fell under category b, but now I’m starting to think you fall under category c.

  264. mxe354
    mxe354 August 2, 2012 at 7:39 pm |

    But I am not simply “a trans” anymore than I am simply “a tall” or “a good” or “an angry” because all of these words are adjectives and to say these things would be ungrammatical.

    Isn’t calling a trans person “a trans” also a way to dehumanize them by describing someone only by their attributes?

  265. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm |

    Thanks Mac. I appreciate the kind words and encouragement to rock on.

    And I agree with Sophia and Donna. For me. . .reading threads like this at Feministe and seeing all the folks who are allies–not just lukewarm allies, but actually passionate and knowledgeable about this stuff–is super reassuring. Seeing it more than outweighs wading through all the transphobic shit. Of course, at this point in my transition, I’m visibly trans most places I go, and I’m reminded on a daily basis that a certain percentage of people view me as a man, or strange, or ridiculous, or a freak–and I’ve had to become relatively numb to such viewpoints. But it’s hardly a daily occurrence for me to read so many things from so many people to the effect that I really am a woman, I really am being treated unfairly, I really do deserve privacy, and so on. It’s wonderful. I’m still young and wet behind the ears. . .but I’d say overall Feministe is the most trans-affirming space I’ve ever been in, save for spaces that were specifically set up for transgender people.

  266. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm |

    Unfortunately, you don’t stop there. What you are really demanding is that all such women silently internalize your prejudice about them, thereby saving you from the discomfort of having to take responsibility for what is important to you. You want them to take care of it for you.

    Yes. This.

  267. Miss S
    Miss S August 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm |

    i used to have short hair, i used to weigh much less – what bearing does this have on someone who finds me attractive as i currently am?

    Whether you think it’s right or wrong, I’m pretty sure there are people out there who distinguish between ‘I used to have short hair” and “I used to have a penis.” They may be the same to you, but that’s not true for everyone.

  268. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm |

    Isn’t calling a trans person “a trans” also a way to dehumanize them by describing someone only by their attributes?

    Yes, mxe. . .I think it definitely is. I mean why else would college-educated, transphobic radfems have such a problem using trans-related adjectives grammatically when they don’t seem to have that problem with any other adjectives in the English language? Hmm. I wonder. Guess it’s just one of life’s little mysteries.

  269. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

    Whether you think it’s right or wrong, I’m pretty sure there are people out there who distinguish between ‘I used to have short hair” and “I used to have a penis.”

    And their bigotry should be coddled by everyone else…why? I mean, sorry, but if the reaction someone has to a hypothetical trans person can be adequately conveyed by using Nic Cage’s THE BEEEEEEES scene from Wicker Man, I think you’re kind of bending over backwards to pin that on anything but transphobia.

  270. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |

    I mean, sorry, but if the reaction someone has to a hypothetical trans person can be adequately conveyed by using Nic Cage’s THE BEEEEEEES scene from Wicker Man

    You’re my hero Mac. This is genius.

  271. Kristin A
    Kristin A August 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm |

    . . .but I’d say overall Feministe is the most trans-affirming space I’ve ever been in, save for spaces that were specifically set up for transgender people.

    As someone following slightly behind your path, I have to echo these sentiments and it really is heart-warming.

  272. Miss S
    Miss S August 2, 2012 at 10:44 pm |

    And their bigotry should be coddled by everyone else…why?

    I’ve said nothing about coddling in this entire thread. My response to this article is summed up as “ask about your deal breakers, and be honest about theirs.” My last comment was a response to someone who suggested that changing genitals was the same as changing a haircut. Not everyone sees it that way. I don’t think changing your genitals and changing your hair color are really that comparable.

  273. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm |

    I came to Feministe around a time when the transphobia and cissexism around here were being addressed as a major issue (probably not the first time, but this was around 2009), and there are many, many names I have not seen in this comment space in a long while (voz, gudbuytjane, Queen Emily, eastsidekate, genderbitch, little light, belledame, GallingGalla, and others – some of whom are still active elsewhere and some who seem to have taken their leave entirely of the blogosphere – I hope they are all safe and okay, no matter what). I remember time and time again these commenters making fantastic contributions here, bringing truth with brutal elegance, only to get hammered back with the same bloody nonsense. There are many different reasons to step away from a particular blog or blogging altogether, but I’m sure burnout and frustration was a big factor for a number of trans commenters who have moved on from here, because it’s just exhausting to keep fighting the same battles over and over again. I think given the shifting nature of the commentariat, there will always be people who are uninitiated with foot-in-mouth syndrome, and there will definitely always be people who are straight-up bigoted who will waste everyone’s time before finally pulling up their troll stakes and moving on. What I hope has changed (and will stay this way) is enough allies who are here who *do* get it (at least to some extent – I feel like thinks like “putting the space” in have been fairly well absorbed) and will consistently step up. I’m so glad to know that this space is friendlier than it has been for trans people.

    I know that we catch a lot of flak here for being too aggressive and mean to bullshit commenters, but there’s only two ways to keep the bullshit out: full mod and a heavy hand on the delete button (never been Feministe’s policy and probably not enough mod resources to do it) or battling it out in the comments and not letting the shit stick. Personally, I remember plenty of times when commenters making good-faith-but-uninformed comments were corrected (often bluntly, that is how we roll), listened, realized what happened, and made a change, whether it was retracting a busted comment or rephrasing a poorly-worded one. I’ve been on both sides of that equation, and that to me is progress – not hand-holding and appeasement of every jacked-up opinion that wanders through.

    I come here to read from and talk with the commenters I respect and admire. Anything that keeps them around longer and not burning out from the BS is aces in my book.

  274. Jadey
    Jadey August 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm |

    I’ve said nothing about coddling in this entire thread. My response to this article is summed up as “ask about your deal breakers, and be honest about theirs.” My last comment was a response to someone who suggested that changing genitals was the same as changing a haircut. Not everyone sees it that way. I don’t think changing your genitals and changing your hair color are really that comparable.

    In the context of this whole thread, it’s something of a raw nerve right now, though. So maybe now is not the time to press on it?

  275. konkonsn
    konkonsn August 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm |

    Whether you think it’s right or wrong, I’m pretty sure there are people out there who distinguish between ‘I used to have short hair” and “I used to have a penis.” They may be the same to you, but that’s not true for everyone.

    Well, for me, it’s more important to know if a person used to have purple hair than a penis. So everyone who colored their hair in college should make sure to tell their potential partners about coloring their hair in case their partner is like me and can’t stand purple hair.

    Oh, that would be an unreasonable expectation, wouldn’t it?

    (And yes, I’m actually kind of serious here. I hate the color purple with a passion because of an experience, but of course a past hair color wouldn’t bother me. Yet it would be more important to me that my date didn’t have purple hair than what their genitals looked like in the past.)

  276. tmc
    tmc August 2, 2012 at 11:26 pm |

    “I recently was reading an advice column about how this transwoman[sic] hadn’t told her bf she was trans. Who wouldn’t tell their boyfriend that kind of thing? She must not trust him very much. You’d say something if that were our situation, wouldn’t you? I mean, I know I’d tell you.”

    I actually really hate this imagined scenario for so many reasons. Firstly, it sounds like you’re trying to guilt the person into outing themselves by insinuating that it takes a certain kind of person (in a bad way) to choose to protect themselves by remaining closeted. Second, you’re cornering them and forcing them to either out themselves or lie to you on the spot instead of letting them come out on their own time (if they ever do choose to come out). Third, you (hypothetical cis person) are making an assumption about what you would do as a trans* person, despite the fact that you are soaked in cis privilege and have no idea what you’re talking about.

    There are probably much better ways to ask, if you really feel the need to ask. This particular scenario may be well-intentioned, but to me it looks like Fail on many levels.

  277. tmc
    tmc August 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm |

    And honestly, I’m not sure that a burning need to know if your partner has transitioned could ever come from a place that’s not at least tinged (if not outright overflowing) with cis-supremacy. The people who have stated that many would consider someone’s trans* status to be a completely different level from someone’s hair color are correct…because the vast majority of people are horrifically and unapologetically cis-supremacist. CIS people and their bigotry are what makes that difference. They obsess over the idea of “real” gender roles and “authentic” sexes and feel entitled to that information even if it means that actual trans* lives are ended every day because of it.

    The onus is not on trans* people to literally risk their lives in order to assuage cis people’s insecurities. If you value “honesty” over trans* folks’ real, honest-to-god safety and well-being, I do not consider that a virtue and it’s certainly not something that I would brag about. Cis people are the reason that trans* folks do not feel safe disclosing. If you want trans* folks to disclose, then fucking MAKE THEM SAFE ENOUGH TO WANT TO DO THAT.

  278. tmc
    tmc August 2, 2012 at 11:40 pm |

    CIS people and their bigotry are what makes that difference. They obsess over the idea of “real” gender roles and “authentic” sexes and feel entitled to that information even if it means that actual trans* lives are ended every day because of it.

    “They” should be a “we.” I’m soaking in cis privilege and I fuck up plenty too.

  279. konkonsn
    konkonsn August 2, 2012 at 11:46 pm |

    The people who have stated that many would consider someone’s trans* status to be a completely different level from someone’s hair color are correct…because the vast majority of people are horrifically and unapologetically cis-supremacist.

    I know you weren’t talking to me, but you do bring up a good point…I am sorry if I offended someone by making that comparison in my own post. The intention was to show that, yes, what some people consider mundane is actually important to others, so don’t assume your ‘need to knows’ are priorities for everyone. But I can see how reading lots of cis people making that comparison gets old.

  280. Lauren M
    Lauren M August 3, 2012 at 12:41 am |

    I’ve said nothing about coddling in this entire thread. My response to this article is summed up as “ask about your deal breakers, and be honest about theirs.” My last comment was a response to someone who suggested that changing genitals was the same as changing a haircut. Not everyone sees it that way. I don’t think changing your genitals and changing your hair color are really that comparable.

    To be clear: I said, “my hair used to be shorter” and NOT “my hair used to be a different color,” and I did so for a reason. That reason being, to actively not conflate a “fake” or “false” or otherwise “not natural hair color” with a trans woman’s vagina which is a real vagina on a real woman. Yeah, I can dye my brown hair blonde – and someone might say I am not a “real blonde,” so I did not want to make that comparison. To say I have had short hair (which consequently some men find un-feminine and even go so far as to say they would never date a woman with short hair) and then have grown it longer does not suggest the same, while at the same time it does poke at some aspects of gender essentialism. Was I a woman when I had short hair? YES. Was I just as feminine with my short hair as I am with my long hair? YES. Was a trans woman a woman when she was born? YES. Even if she had a penis? YES. Is she any less of a woman or less feminine because she is a trans woman? NO.

  281. Lauren M
    Lauren M August 3, 2012 at 12:44 am |

    and also, and most importantly…if my comparison is offensive to anyone transgendered, then I am sorry and I won’t make that comparison again.

  282. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 3, 2012 at 2:41 am |

    mac . I’m still pissed off about that remake of The Wicker Man.

    Bees? Mr Police not being a virgin? BEES?

    Load of old shit.

    As for our ‘phobe phriends – they’re flailing now. Miss S – we get it, you’re transphobic. I’m sure trans people aren’t particularly fond of you either.

    I just do not fucking understand why it’s so hard for all of you bigots to see that you’re actually hurting people RIGHT NOW with your antics.

    How many trans women need to spill their guts out to get you to realise that you’re gleefully flinging handfuls of salt into raw wounds?

  283. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 3, 2012 at 2:48 am |

    You’re my hero Mac. This is genius.

    ^__^

    mac . I’m still pissed off about that remake of The Wicker Man.

    Bees? Mr Police not being a virgin? BEES?

    Load of old shit.

    *giggles* see, I haven’t actually seen the whole movie, I just watched that scene because…. well, because the internet iwth the gifs. *runs away*

  284. Li
    Li August 3, 2012 at 3:40 am |

    I know this is gratuitously off topic, but whatever

  285. Russkii
    Russkii August 3, 2012 at 4:05 am |

    Partial Human said: “Now go away, stop fucking hurting people with your ignorance and hate. Piss off.” I will do so only after I summarize me argument.

    I base my claim that this is important information needs to be disclosed without specific prompting before a developing relationship becomes sexual because I believe that this would be a dealbreaker for majority of men. In turn, I base this on my observations of American society. Considering the dominant society’s view of the transgender women and men, which is quite shitty, I am surprised that anybody would argue against the idea that this information would be important for majority of men (even though I do not have the statistics or evidence to prove this). Ultimately, the woman in the case which we are discussing must also be cognizant of this issue. She states that she does not want to disclose the information because he does not want children so in her view it doesn’t matter. But if it doesn’t matter, why not be open about it? Clearly, she is afraid that such information would determine his attitude towards their romantic relationship in general, and about his consent to engage in sexual acts in particular. So yes, this is also about his consent. I am not saying that this is a clear cut case of rape, you imputed those words to me. However, by concealing the obviously significant information from her intimate partner which the average American heterosexual male needs to make an informed decision about the relationship, her actions are deceitful and curtail his ability to make a free decision to consent.

  286. Li
    Li August 3, 2012 at 4:13 am |

    I base my claim that this is important information needs to be disclosed without specific prompting before a developing relationship becomes sexual because I believe that this would be a dealbreaker for majority of men.

    As I’ve said like five million times, your dealbreakers are not anyone else’s responsibility. They are yours. And you know what? Fuck you and the claim you rode in on. I’ve known enough straight men in relationships with trans women and enough androphilic trans women with roaringly spectacular sex lives not to start making assumptions on straight men’s capacity to deal with having a trans woman partner. Talk about fucking stereotypes. You don’t get to cite consent culture while simultaneously shirking your own responsibilities in making that culture work.

  287. Li
    Li August 3, 2012 at 4:17 am |

    Next up: how queer men who hit on men who haven’t first explicitly outed themselves as queer are deliberately transgressing people’s boundaries because they should really be assuming that any given man is a homophobic bigot and uncomfortable with sexual advances from other men.

  288. petpluto
    petpluto August 3, 2012 at 4:48 am |

    But if it doesn’t matter, why not be open about it?

    If doesn’t matter, why mention it?

    See what I did there? See how easy it is to turn it around? If something doesn’t matter to you, you could either be fully open about it – or decide that since it isn’t important that it isn’t necessary to bring up.

    Clearly, she is afraid that such information would determine his attitude towards their romantic relationship in general

    Actually, that’s not clear. It isn’t clear she’s afraid. It is clear that after a lifetime of being viewed as the man she wasn’t, she is being recognized as the woman she IS. What isn’t clear are her motives for not telling her boyfriend. She could be afraid he’ll leave her. OR, she could be happy that her gender identity now conforms to how she is perceived by the rest of the world, and feels no reason to go back and dwell on her life pre-transition. OR, she could feel like it’s only been a couple of months and she wants to see where the relationship is going before disclosing. Or, or, or…

    You’re making broad assumptions about why she’s decided to take this course of action, and those assumptions seem to be based in the idea that of COURSE Juliette is trying to deceive her partner (because obviously she knows that being a trans person is a dealbreaker for John) – which is harmful for any number of reasons already laid out on this thread.

    your dealbreakers are not anyone else’s responsibility. They are yours.

    If sleeping with a trans person is something you’re not comfortable with, that is YOUR DEAL. It doesn’t matter if you believe your predilection is shared by a “majority” of men. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to scare off potential cis women by asking them personal questions.

    If you’re going to be bumping uglies with someone, then it is your responsibility TO YOURSELF to get all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not this is the person you should be sleeping with. Why would you ever leave that choice up to anyone else? Why, if this is such a big deal for you, would you not want to take the personal responsibility to actively seek the knowledge you need? By not doing so, you’re not doing your due diligence for yourself. You are failing YOURSELF. No one else is failing you. No one else is responsible for knowing what your line in the sand is. If you’re not comfortable asking the question, then maybe there’s something wrong with the question – or you.

  289. EG
    EG August 3, 2012 at 6:19 am |

    Bees? Mr Police not being a virgin? BEES?

    Yes, but you see, I think you’re not getting the, um, subtext of that movie, which is that Women are Evil.

    For me, though, the best part is “What’ve you got in the sack? A shark?”

    Sorry. I know it’s off topic. But how many damn times can we say the same thing? Care a lot about whether or not the person you’re dating is trans? That’s on you, then, not on the person you’re dating. And if you don’t feel comfortable asking, then probably the relationship doesn’t have long-term potential. Because you don’t want to take responsibility for your own shit, and nobody wants to be in a relationship with somebody like that, long-term.

  290. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 3, 2012 at 7:27 am |

    Damn EG. I forgot about being evil. I’ll have to reach my quota somehow.

    I know! Gonna get out my treasured Anchor Bay dvd of the original version of the film, and sing along loudly until next door’s husky-pups are howling.

    That’ll be my terrible womanly-evil of the day, in deference to Nicholas notCoppolla teaching me mah place.

    Russki, dude, I’m just a simple lesley-bean, so it’s maybe my limited female understanding of the world getting me hot and bothered.

    The only male in the house is my fish, Vernon. I’ll type what he tells me to.

    BEGIN MESSAGE:

    Straight man like woman.

    Man meet woman. Man says “My penis like sex with vagina” and woman say “Is cool! I have vagina!”

    WHERE PROBLEM? Give Vernon treat now.

    END MESSAGE.

  291. roymacIII
    roymacIII August 3, 2012 at 7:33 am |

    Sorry. I know it’s off topic. But how many damn times can we say the same thing?

    Maybe we’re just not saying it the right way?

    Pig Latin?
    Atthay’say onway ouyay, enthay, otnay onway ethay ersonpay ouyay
    ’eray atingday.

    Backwards?
    .gnitad er’uoy nosrep eht no ton ,neht ,uoy no s’tahT

    Upside down?
    ˙ƃuıʇɐp ǝɹ’noʎ uosɹǝd ǝɥʇ uo ʇou ‘uǝɥʇ ‘noʎ uo s’ʇɐɥʇ

    leet?
    7h47’5 0n y0u, 7h3n, n07 0n 7h3 p3r50n y0u’r3 d47!n9.

    Binary?
    01010100 01101000 01100001 01110100 10000000011001 01110011 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00101100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101110 00101100 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01101111 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110000 01100101 01110010 01110011 01101111 01101110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 10000000011001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100100 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00101110 00100000

    I’m out of ideas.

  292. Wendy
    Wendy August 3, 2012 at 8:21 am |

    I don’t have the statistics to prove it, but I am fairly sure that you and most people here would agree that for the average heterosexual American man this is would be dealbreaker

    Actually in my experience most heterosexual men with a boner don’t give a crap about the fact that I am trans and that was back when I was pre-op.

  293. Wendy
    Wendy August 3, 2012 at 8:28 am |

    Surely there’s a material difference – one’s a muscular canal with its own structure, the other’s a surgical created cavity created in someone’s pelvis and coated with intestine in the case of colovaginoplasty or penile skin in the case of penile inversion. You can use the word vagina in both cases, and they might look cosmetically the same, but they’re anatomically nothing alike.

    I’m here to tell you that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  294. David
    David August 3, 2012 at 9:18 am |

    ..I am surprised that anybody would argue against the idea that this information would be important for majority of men..

    Russkii, I haven’t seen anyone making this argument, because it is irrelevant. You don’t seem to grasp the argument we actually are making, which I’ll repeat yet again: If something is important to you, you are responsible for it. It is not your partner’s job to internalize “the idea that this information would be important for majority of men.”

    I’m running out of ways to make this understandable to you, too. It could be that you are so steeped in privilege that you don’t see anything wrong with expecting women to internalize this idea. But since you also say this:

    I base this on my observations of American society. Considering the dominant society’s view of the transgender women and men, which is quite shitty..

    ..I gather that you do have some awareness of the shittyness of it. If your assumption is true, then what falsehoods about trans women make it true? And if that dominant view based on those falsehoods is indeed shitty, why do you advocate perpetuating it by demanding that trans women accept it and internalize it?

    Power concedes nothing without a demand, and the demand here is that you stop expecting other people to assume responsibility for your shit.

  295. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 3, 2012 at 9:21 am |

    Straight man like woman.

    Man meet woman. Man says “My penis like sex with vagina” and woman say “Is cool! I have vagina!”

    WHERE PROBLEM? Give Vernon treat now.

    *giggling madly*

    Next up: how queer men who hit on men who haven’t first explicitly outed themselves as queer are deliberately transgressing people’s boundaries because they should really be assuming that any given man is a homophobic bigot and uncomfortable with sexual advances from other men.

    What, queer men don’t wait for other men to reveal their I ♥ Dick badges before hitting on them?

  296. David
    David August 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |

    ..but they’re anatomically nothing alike

    This is so ignorant that I passed over it earlier without really digesting it. The shallowness of medical knowledge displayed here does scream radfem troll, but on the off chance that the person is educable: People all start out with the same bits. We all have the structure for all the parts in us, it’s just that those structures develop into somewhat different configurations. Just as the same structures become configured during fetal development, surgical procedures can reconfigure them, i.e., we all have a “pelvic cavity” with the potential to have developed into a vagina.

    The commenter made it sound like people are made with mutually exclusive special boyflesh or girlflesh, and I regret to say I think it was deliberate.

  297. Rhoanna
    Rhoanna August 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    “I recently was reading an advice column about how this transwoman[sic] hadn’t told her bf she was trans. Who wouldn’t tell their boyfriend that kind of thing? She must not trust him very much. You’d say something if that were our situation, wouldn’t you? I mean, I know I’d tell you.”

    If someone who’s cis said that to me, I’d have serious misgivings about telling them, and probably consider breaking up with them. Because either they will when they find out I’m asking (otherwise why are they asking), or they’re into weird manipulative “honesty”.

    If you don’t want to date/have sex with trans people, just say “I don’t want to date trans women. I don’t have any reason to suppose one way or another about you, but I wanted you to know.” If they’re trans, they’ll probably call it off, and you haven’t pressured them to out themselves. Sure, you might lose some potential cis dates, but that’s life.

    If you don’t care if they’re trans, then why are you asking in the first place? Demonstrate you’re an informed ally, and if it’s a serious relationship, they’re more likely to tell you eventually anyway.

    (Not that the quoted scenario is likely to come up for me, for a range of reasons, from when I’d likely disclose being trans, to the sort of people I’d consider dating.)

  298. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    A final note before I run away for the weekend to meet my wife’s giant extended family for the first time (yay? flail? um):
    1) if you think a trans woman replying “yes” to “are you a woman” is lying, you are transphobic.
    2) if you think “woman” is defined by “what genitalia you had at birth” you’re both transphobic and fucking ridiculous.
    3) if you think a trans woman is lying about being a woman, you are transphobic.
    4) if something matters so much to you that you go into screeching rants on the internet about it, you can pony up the balls to ask that question on a first date, I swear.
    5) if you’re terribly concerned that asking if a woman you’re dating is trans will harm your chances of getting laid, the answer is YES – because you won’t be having sex with women who happen to be trans or trans allies. Since you’re so goshfired ragey about informed consent by your partner volunteering scads and scads of information: I’d be much more freaked out that I slept with a transphobe than if I slept with a trans person, so it’s your moral goddamn OBLIGATION to inform ME of YOUR transphobia so I can make an informed decision about fucking you. Otherwise, here come the rape police.
    6) really? “Original” genitalia? Really? Really? You used to be a foetus, are you still a foetus?

    That is all.

  299. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 3, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    Good luck mac! I’m sure you won’t need it, not if you can demonstrate your smackdown skills to them somehow :D

  300. Russkii
    Russkii August 3, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    David, you said: “You don’t seem to grasp the argument we actually are making, which I’ll repeat yet again: If something is important to you, you are responsible for it. It is not your partner’s job to internalize ‘the idea that this information would be important for majority of men’.”

    I do see this argument and recognize its validity in general, and perhaps to a degree in this situation. Ultimately, the responsibility is for the person who has dealbreakers to inquire about them. But this is not the end of the story in this situation. This is a potential dealbreaker for many men although a large portion of those men would not think to ask specifically about it for various reasons (ignorance primarily, but also the fear of insulting the woman or they do not want to appear to be transphobic). That is why I believe that the disclosure is in order even without specific prompting.

  301. mxe354
    mxe354 August 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    Ultimately, the responsibility is for the person who has dealbreakers to inquire about them. But this is not the end of the story in this situation. This is a potential dealbreaker for many men although a large portion of those men would not think to ask specifically about it for various reasons (ignorance primarily, but also the fear of insulting the woman or they do not want to appear to be transphobic). That is why I believe that the disclosure is in order even without specific prompting.

    But again, trans women aren’t deceiving cis het men. So there is nothing that needs to be disclosed.

  302. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 3, 2012 at 10:51 am |

    This is a potential dealbreaker for many men although a large portion of those men would not think to ask specifically about it for various reasons (ignorance primarily, but also the fear of insulting the woman or they do not want to appear to be transphobic)

    You. are. not. entitled. to. special. treatment. just. because. you. are. part. a. transphobic. majority.

  303. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 3, 2012 at 11:06 am |

    Good luck mac! I’m sure you won’t need it, not if you can demonstrate your smackdown skills to them somehow :D

    Thank you! This is the (relatively) non-batshit side of the family though *grin*

    (Yes, we are getting ready at our usual glacial pace, and I actually have time to catch up on threads :P)

  304. petpluto
    petpluto August 3, 2012 at 11:07 am |

    This is a potential dealbreaker for many men although a large portion of those men would not think to ask specifically about it for various reasons (ignorance primarily, but also the fear of insulting the woman or they do not want to appear to be transphobic)

    So… Because cis men do not want to appear to be transphobic, they expect trans women to do the heavy lifting of seeking out their potential partners’ dealbreakers on the subject so the men can then respond in all their transphobic glory?

    If you don’t want to appear to be transphobic but you (general ‘you’) are transphobic, then – again – that’s your problem to figure out.

    1) if you think a trans woman replying “yes” to “are you a woman” is lying, you are transphobic.
    2) if you think “woman” is defined by “what genitalia you had at birth” you’re both transphobic and fucking ridiculous.
    3) if you think a trans woman is lying about being a woman, you are transphobic.
    4) if something matters so much to you that you go into screeching rants on the internet about it, you can pony up the balls to ask that question on a first date, I swear.
    5) if you’re terribly concerned that asking if a woman you’re dating is trans will harm your chances of getting laid, the answer is YES – because you won’t be having sex with women who happen to be trans or trans allies. Since you’re so goshfired ragey about informed consent by your partner volunteering scads and scads of information: I’d be much more freaked out that I slept with a transphobe than if I slept with a trans person, so it’s your moral goddamn OBLIGATION to inform ME of YOUR transphobia so I can make an informed decision about fucking you.

    QFT

  305. David
    David August 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |

    This is a potential dealbreaker for many men although a large portion of those men would not think to ask specifically about it for various reasons..

    There is your problem, concisely stated. If something, anything, is really a “potential dealbreaker,” there can be no excuse for not asking about it. None. Either you care enough about it to make your position known, or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

    It’s not a potential partner’s job to assume that you’re ignorant, or afraid of appearing transphobic, or whatever, and protect you from yourself. It’s your job to be honest.

  306. Wendy
    Wendy August 3, 2012 at 11:57 am |

    This is a potential dealbreaker for many men although a large portion of those men would not think to ask specifically about it for various reasons..

    Maybe everyone else’s answer to your question is too eloquent for you to grasp Russkii so let me put it to you in words that you might be able to understand: That’s your problem not mine.

  307. Wendy
    Wendy August 3, 2012 at 11:58 am |

    Wow, epic fail with the block quotes on my part but whatever.

  308. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    Maybe we’re just not saying it the right way?

    Morse Code!!

    - …. .- – .—-. … / — -. / -.– — ..- –..– / -. — – / — -. / – …. . / .–. . .-. … — -. / -.– — ..- .—-. .-. . / -.. .- – .. -. –. .-.-.-

  309. David
    David August 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

    Or put another way, if you “wouldn’t think to ask about it” it can’t really be that important to you.

  310. mxe354
    mxe354 August 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

    Or put another way, if you “wouldn’t think to ask about it” it can’t really be that important to you.

    Check and mate.

  311. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    “I’m transphobic but I don’t want to look transphobic, so I’ll use a transphobic strategy so I can look like I meet the minimum standard of human decency. Oh, and get laid”

    Do us a favour Russkii – just draw a face and tits on your ‘special’ sock, and stay away from actual, living, breathing, human women.

    You can come out and play with the grownups once that weird “They’re out there, hiding in plain sight, trying to rape meeeee the majority of heterosexual men!” phase is over.

  312. LadySegfault
    LadySegfault August 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

    Ok, I must admit I didn’t really read the second half of comments and only went rapidly through it, because I’m not interested in the “trans people are rapist by deception” debate, so I hope what I said hasn’t been already…

    What I don’t get it the idea that you should disclose a potential thing that would “cause trouble” to a relationship, like, at the first date and that it’s the standard behaviour that the other one would be expected to like.

    Personally, that’s quite the opposite. I (guess I would) have no problem dating a trans woman, but there are other subject where I might be a bit… bigoted, maybe? undeconstructed? E.g, as a lesbian I think I would have trouble dating a bisexual woman, or if she had some mental disability I don’t understand, and probably lots of other stuff. (I’m not saying that’s good, right? Just, well, yes, I’m not perfect, far from it) And clearly if she tells me on first date chances are either there won’t be a second one or my reaction will be hurtful both for her and for me.

    On the opposite I have the impression that if she tells me once we know well, we trust each other, we have a working relationship… well, I have the impression it might be easier for me to deconstruct things in my head, take some efforts on myself and just accept it (or at least accept to see above this). And back to trans issues, I have the impression that there are more than a few cis people who would not have dated someone had they known they were trans, yet who accepted it once they were told because they were in love and at that time could realize it was not as big deal as they thought, so I don’t think it work differently.

    So for my part, seriously, in most cases I’d much prefer that someone I date wait a bit before “disclosing” stuff than being totally upfront about that. And while obviously that’s their choice and I have no problem if they *chose* to do that, what would really piss me off is if someone does that because she feels obligated by some “standard behaviour” rules and if it complicates our relationship, whereas things could have gone smoothier if it had just popped in the discussion sometime later.

  313. Donna L
    Donna L August 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    I did want to add that I agree with Wendy that for better or worse (and there are all sorts of fetishization issues I won’t get into here), there are *way* more straight men that are perfectly happy and enthusiastic about having sex — knowingly — with trans women (including, and perhaps particularly, trans women who haven’t had genital surgery) than are willing to admit it publicly. (There’s a very offensive term used for trans women, by the way, that’s supposedly the second or third most popular search term for porn on the Internet). This is something I’ve heard from every single androphilic trans woman with whom I’ve ever discussed the subject.

    Obviously, trans women do get murdered upon discovery. But as I mentioned before, there have been a number of murders of trans women in which the “trans panic” defense was raised, and it turned out that the men in question actually had known perfectly well that the women were trans, and killed them not because they had just found out their history, but because other people found out, and they were embarrassed to have anyone think they were knowingly dating a trans woman. Or to admit it to themselves. Obviously, it was far easier for them to murder those women and claim they had done so out of post-discovery rage, than it was to withstand the embarrassment of admitting the truth.

    Every time another straight man comes on here and makes the unsupported claim that the vast majority of straight men would reject having sex with a trans woman based on their present or even their former genital configuration, it reinforces that attitude. Yes, the overwhelming majority would claim it was a deal breaker, and post Internet comments about how disgusting the very idea was, and maybe it’s true that a lot of them wouldn’t call the woman again or take her phone calls or introduce her to Mom, but I really don’t buy that most straight men would actually run screaming from the room.

  314. Miss S
    Miss S August 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    Oh, that would be an unreasonable expectation, wouldn’t it?
    Uh, yeah. It would be. I’ve never suggested otherwise.

    To be clear: I said, “my hair used to be shorter” and NOT “my hair used to be a different color,” and I did so for a reason.

    You’re right, I conflated hair cut with hair color and changed your wording. My fault.
    Miss S – we get it, you’re transphobic. I’m sure trans people aren’t particularly fond of you either.

    Riiiight. Okay. Because suggesting that people be honest about their deal breakers and ask, as opposed to expecting everyone to share every bit of information about lives before sex since they don’t know what the other person’s deal breakers are, is transphobic. Whatever.

  315. Kaija24
    Kaija24 August 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

    I did want to add that I agree with Wendy that for better or worse (and there are all sorts of fetishization issues I won’t get into here), there are *way* more straight men that are perfectly happy and enthusiastic about having sex — knowingly — with trans women (including, and perhaps particularly, trans women who haven’t had genital surgery) than are willing to admit it publicly.

    Exactly. And that’s true for just about every single sexual practice that humans engage in. What people SAY they like and do is almost always different from what they ACTUALLY say or do…which is why it’s difficult to impossible to get good stats (ask the anthropologists, sociologists, or anyone trying to research private human activity). As a scientist myself, in the absence of really good peer-reviewed normalized controlled data, I’ll go with believing the actual experiences/ of the transgender people regarding who they have sex with over the perceived/projected opinions of people who have admitted that they don’t do and/or don’t want anything to do with transgendered people.

  316. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

    I think what Russkii is saying is that most transphobic straight men practice cissexual assumption. In other words, they assume every woman they meet is a cissexual. In their worldview, all trans women look like John Lithgow’s character from The World According to Garp. And so if she’s not 6’4″ and built like a professional football player she’s obviously a cissexual.

    Unfortunately for these transphobes, they both hate trans women and don’t want to be involved with them and simultaneously–because of their bigotry–have stereotypical ideas of what trans women look like that lull them into a false sense of security regarding the women they are dating. So who could expect them to ask their dates if they are trans or not? If she was trans, it would already be apparent! And since she’s obviously transphobic as well (transphobic straight men have a habit of projecting their transphobia on to everyone else), of course she will be offended by the implication that she could possibly be trans. Why, that’s like saying she looks like John Lithgow, right?!

  317. Matt
    Matt August 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

    Can people seriously believe that because you don’t ask about something every time it could ever possibly come up you don’t actually care?

    Do you ask your server at the restaurant if they spit in your food every time they bring your order? Or do you just assume that they haven’t done that? Just like the thousands of other assumptions you make every day about other people.

  318. EG
    EG August 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm |

    Someone spitting in my food puts me at material risk. My partner being trans does not. STDs do put me at material risk, and yes, I do ask every partner.

  319. Donna L
    Donna L August 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    Hardly comparable to a dating situation.

    I was wondering when Matt would show up to share his brilliant thoughts with us.

  320. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm |

    Oh, so now being trans is the same as spitting in food?

    Jesus fucking Christ on a penny-farthing, dressed in lederhosen, whistling “How Soon is Now?” while juggling Asian short-clawed otters… NO NO NO SHUT UP, NUKE THE WORLD AND SALT THE EARTH.

  321. igglanova
    igglanova August 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

    These analogies are so fucking bad…

  322. Chris
    Chris August 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm |

    Let me get this clear:

    If somebody having a previous marriage is a dealbreaker for you, well that’s something you should ask your partner about before getting serious.

    If somebody having children is a dealbreaker, well that’s something you should ask your partner about before getting serious.

    If somebody being unable to reproduce is a dealbreaker, well that’s something you should ask your partner about before getting serious.

    If somebody being trans is a dealbreaker, well she should have been upfront and forthcoming about it and told me all about it herself before we even kiss and volunteered everything I shouldn’t have to ask about that because it’s soooo gross and might cost me hot dates and it might make a transphobe actually look transphobic OH NO I HAVE COOTIES NOW.

    What is that? In this world, big, strong men are afraid of penises that don’t even exist anymore? Is that what I’m seeing? That is so weak it would be funny, if it didn’t often endanger trans people and cause them bodily harm. But no need thinking about the safety of a marginalized minority, when there is even a slight possibility of GHOST DONGS making straight cis men RETROACTIVELY GHOST-GAY. Amirite, menz?

    Or is it perhaps more that somebody disgusted by the idea of sex with a trans woman might not actually be gynephiliac? They might not be as attracted to female bodies as they would particularly like to admit? Is that more the problem? If that’s the case, a little self-acceptance would be better medicine than making unreasonable demands of women that, frankly, owe you nothing.

    An article by a trans woman worth reading on this very topic:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/20/the-ethical-imperative-of-disclosure-or-how-to-believe-your-victim-owes-you-an-opportunity-for-abuse/

  323. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

    Someone spitting in my food puts me at material risk. My partner being trans does not. STDs do put me at material risk, and yes, I do ask every partner.

    Very good point! I would imagine that also, if there’s any doubt in your mind, you wouldn’t rely on the answer given.

    Here’s what I say to the men who are so worried about being ‘fooled.’ (and I don’t doubt Donna’s comment that a good number of them are just pretending to be fooled.):
    If you’ve slept with someone on numerous occasions and enjoyed it then there is little doubt that you find the person sexually attractive. If that person is a trans woman, you are sexually attracted to women regardless of their birth gender. You learned something about yourself that you didn’t know before, and to imply that this is somehow a morally wrong act by said trans-woman is just ridiculous.

  324. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm |

    Read this in another forum and this pretty much sums up what I was failing to get at.

    “Technically they have modified themselves to be woman or man, biologically they are still the gender they were born as. And I agree that they are to have the same rights, but there are plenty of hetrosexual people who wouldn’t want to be with what is a member of the same gender modified to look like a member of the opposite gender. Humans are shallow like that.”

    or what makes it different

    let’s see..the ability to give birth..certain chromosomes….I’m pretty sure we can go down the line…because somone now feels as though they have the body of a woman and are a woman..it doesn’t make it so in mahny ( people’s eyes….many people think that’s okay and would be happy to date him/her….many do not…..it’s not right to lie about oneself in order to go out with somone…(same goes for straight male/females that lie to the other gender to get a date)…….douchebaggery knows no gender….”

  325. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm |

    Note I do not agree with all that was said. Just parts.

    I tried posting this earlier but I don’t think it went through.

    Not wanting to fuck/be with someone with a surgically made vagina/penis doesn’t equate transphobia because it doesn’t mean that the person hates transexuals or that they think their not a “real woman/man” but that they prefer to fuck/be with cisgender people instead.

    Its a choice, a preference.
    Similar to breast implants. Are the woman’s breasts still real? Yes. Should she be treated like shit for having implants? No. But they have been surgically altered and some people wont want to be with her because of it. Tough shit.

  326. Jadey
    Jadey August 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm |

    SydneyKait, you and the other people posting in that forum are incorrect about the nature of both physiological sex and gender. The biology of sex is so much more complex than that, and the sociology of sex even moreso. (As in, I’ll bet you actually place much more weight on sociologically-prescribed indicators of your “sex” than biological ones! Have you ever had your chromosomes tested to see if you really are as XX as you think you are? Can you give me details about your current and historical sex hormone production? I’ll bet you can’t! I can’t either – very few people can. If you had to get a hysterectomy due to medical problems – I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen, btw – would it make you less of a woman? Why or why not?)

    Having trouble with any of those questions? Want a primer? Try reading Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano (very readable, covers cultural aspects really well and is an excellent primer) and Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People by Joan Roughgarden (more technical, but it gets into the biology of it all, which is so deeply misunderstood in popular culture).

    In one of your very first comments, you professed to “having a lot to learn”. Live up to the potential of that statement – take the time to teach yourself. Be a real ally. Because right now you are only perpetuating more harm and inequality against people you professed to care about.

  327. Jadey
    Jadey August 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm |

    Also, (1) other people’s shallowness (or bigotry – we can agree to disagree if we must) still not a good justification for transphobia. Can’t seem to stress that one enough; and (2) a trans woman who identifies herself as a woman is still a woman and is not lying in any way conceivable (unless you are planning to misgender her because you still don’t understand what being trans means, in which case still your problem, not hers); and (3) a trans woman who passes herself off as a cis woman in order to avoid serious emotional, physical, and financial harm (also can’t stress enough the reality of this risk – hatred and discrimination abounds) is pretty goddamned justified in doing so.

  328. SydneyKait
    SydneyKait August 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm |

    Jadey
    Thanks, I will check those out.
    This has been eating at me. I dont currently agree but I’m trying to make sure im not missing something here. Ugh. :/

  329. mxe354
    mxe354 August 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm |

    “Technically they have modified themselves to be woman or man, biologically they are still the gender they were born as. And I agree that they are to have the same rights, but there are plenty of hetrosexual people who wouldn’t want to be with what is a member of the same gender modified to look like a member of the opposite gender. Humans are shallow like that.”

    Don’t paint the shallowness of some people as inevitable in this regard – it’s not. Transphobia has to go no matter what. And fortunately there are already quite a few people who aren’t transphobic. In fact, as many have stated in this thread, quite a few cis people have good sexual relationships with trans people. Also, that person is a transphobic dumbass for saying that trans women are mere imitations of women.

    “let’s see..the ability to give birth..certain chromosomes….I’m pretty sure we can go down the line…because somone now feels as though they have the body of a woman and are a woman..it doesn’t make it so in many people’s eyes….many people think that’s okay and would be happy to date him/her….many do not…..it’s not right to lie about oneself in order to go out with somone…(same goes for straight male/females that lie to the other gender to get a date)…….douchebaggery knows no gender….”

    But they aren’t lying because they’re women despite having been assigned the male sex at birth. There isn’t anything to dispute here unless one thinks that trans women are lesser women or something. And just so you know, there are quite a few cis women who can’t get pregnant.

  330. Donna L
    Donna L August 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm |

    Jadey, another thing I appreciate about you and all the other trans allies who comment here is your willingness to try to direct people to resources they can use to educate themselves. That’s something I don’t have the energy to do so much anymore. I started several times to try to respond to Sydney Kait’s comment, and gave up each time.

  331. DouglasG
    DouglasG August 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm |

    [What, queer men don’t wait for other men to reveal their I ♥ Dick badges before hitting on them?]

    I could say that we get more points if we don’t wait for such a reveal, and that we only have to recruit five straight men to get a toaster oven (as if that would be sufficient compensation!), but I’m sure somebody would take me seriously, so I shan’t.

  332. EG
    EG August 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm |

    let’s see..the ability to give birth..certain chromosomes….I’m pretty sure we can go down the line…because somone now feels as though they have the body of a woman and are a woman..it doesn’t make it so in mahny ( people’s eyes….many people think that’s okay and would be happy to date him/her….many do not…..it’s not right to lie about oneself in order to go out with somone…(same goes for straight male/females that lie to the other gender to get a date)…….douchebaggery knows no gender….”

    1) Plenty of cis women can’t give birth either.
    2) I have no idea what my chromosomes are, and yet I’m still sure I’m a woman.
    3) Trans people are not obligated to cater to the prejudices of transphobics, no matter how many transphobics there are.
    4) A trans woman who refers to herself as a woman is not lying, so there’s no problem there. (change the words to the appropriate ones for a trans man)
    5) I agree with this last one. Nobody should be a douchebag. That’s why I make sure my sex partners are pro-choice and left-wing before I sleep with them. What does that have to do with being trans?

  333. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm |

    Thank you, EG. Very much.

  334. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm |

    Congrats Kait. You just made me puke. Like actual, honest to FSM vomited on myself.

    Gross, fucking gross. And I don’t mean my former stomach contents.

    Hugs for Donna, Becca, Rhoanna, and any other trans women here because honestly? I cannot even handle that steaming pile up thete.

    Of course, since I can’t have baaabies, or be a mother, and seeing as I’m a dirty fucking unnatural dyke, and I need exogenous hormones due to almost dying, and I never had a karyotype test performed to see if I’m “an intersex”, then I’m either a man, or a devious, lying, rapey trans woman.

    Can I be one of you ladies? Could you ever accept a beast like me? I have cake, prescription opiates, and a box of fanc y crackers. Oh, and about 20 boxes of cyproterone acetate! (Thank you NHS :D)

  335. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll August 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm |

    Just like the thousands of other assumptions you make every day about other people.

    Your assumptions are on YOU. No one is obligated to

    1)know what your assumptions are

    2) meet them

    Lots and lots of men assume buying a woman drinks and dirty dancing means they’re going to have sex. Those same men then get angry at the woman for not having sex with them. As if those assumptions were true and HAD to be true otherwise the woman was deceiving them.

    Your assumptions aren’t anyone else’s problem.

  336. Matt
    Matt August 3, 2012 at 10:48 pm |

    I agree that your assumptions are on you. I was dealing with a very specific comment that was based on a faulty premise.

    As for spitting in food being equal to being transgender, I wasn’t giving my opinion about being transgender. The point is whether the people who argue for a disclosure generally consider it to be gross or ick. So I used an example of something that most people generally consider to be gross. Based on the level of bigotry leveled at transgender individuals it would even have been valid to use another example, such as STDs. Indeed that would still not be perfectly comparable because transphobic people kill trans people but not people who give them STDs.

    The argument was that if you didn’t ask it means you don’t care. So go ahead and set up a straw man about my comment even though I was very specific about what I was responding to.

    So pheeno, your wrong assumptions aren’t my problem right?
    Same goes for partial human and donna.

    My post was not brilliant Donna, and given the ridiculousness of the claim it didn’t need to be, but it was perfectly accurate. Not asking does not mean you don’t care.

    And anyways I agree that disclosure isn’t mandatory. Honesty is not always the best policy.

    Hence why I didn’t make any reference to that issue. Because it has nothing to do with my comment.

    But again, good job assuming guys. Because we can never have too much ironic and hypocritical assuming in a thread filled with comments about not assuming.

  337. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue August 4, 2012 at 12:38 am |

    Except the argument isn’t that if you don’t ask it means you don’t care. The argument is that if you DO care you should ask, because it’s not my job to anticipate your fuckheaded bigotries.

  338. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 1:44 am |

    Yeah, pedal backwards faster Matt, Lois Lane’s still dead.

    Honesty is not even relevant here, so using that term belies your beliefs pretty well.

  339. igglanova
    igglanova August 4, 2012 at 8:22 am |

    It would be nice to have at least one thread about a trans*-related topic that wasn’t horrible.

    Technically they have modified themselves to be woman or man, biologically they are still the gender they were born as.

    Whoever originally wrote this is full of fail. +1 for confusion of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. +2 for thinking ‘woman’ and ‘man’ are biological rather than social categories.

    Although, the last half of that sentence may be accidentally correct. There are some trans* people who ‘always knew’ what their gender identity was. So those people would, indeed, be the same gender today as they were from day one.

  340. David
    David August 4, 2012 at 9:00 am |

    Can people seriously believe that because you don’t ask about something every time it could ever possibly come up you don’t actually care?

    Well, yes. If it’s really true that only having sex with cis women is important to you, it’s in your best interest to not make assumptions. This is not complicated. It would apply to any precondition that is truly important to you.

    Putting aside the implied insult, do you think that the likelihood of someone spitting in your food is comparable in some way to the likelihood of a potential female partner having been assigned male at birth? Why?

  341. David
    David August 4, 2012 at 9:08 am |

    Technically they have modified themselves to be woman or man, biologically they are still the gender they were born as.

    This is false in every respect. The writer simply doesn’t understand what it means to be trans. Everyone is “the gender they were born as.” Trans people were incorrectly assigned. It’s no one’s fault, because gender isn’t always evident at birth.

    Part of the problem is that we are stuck with inadequate (or just plain inaccurate) language to talk about this. “Trans” implies that people “change” gender, which just isn’t true.

  342. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 4, 2012 at 10:27 am |

    Part of the problem is that we are stuck with inadequate (or just plain inaccurate) language to talk about this. “Trans” implies that people “change” gender, which just isn’t true.

    One of the things that contributes to the confusion is that the same word — gender — is used to refer to both gender identity and gender expression. It’s hard to tell what aspect of “gender” someone is referring to if they don’t specify what they’re talking about. My gender identity has really never changed; I’ve been who I am, and known what I wanted, ever since I can remember, certainly back to the age of 3 or earlier. Obviously, however, my gender expression has changed substantially by virtue of my transition, both medically and socially.

    So, to me, that’s what’s meant by terms like gender change, gender transition, and transgender: a change in my gender expression, and in the way my gender is perceived by the world. Not a change in my gender identity. And that’s why the use of those terms doesn’t bother me, and I don’t have a problem with “transgender” as an umbrella term for the trans community — unlike some transsexual women, who (disingenuously, in my opinion) insist that the term refers to a change in gender identity, and, therefore, doesn’t apply to them. (I think many are largely motivated by a desire to distinguish themselves from those “icky” crossdressers and non-medical/surgical transitioners, etc., but that’s another subject entirely.)

  343. Kristin A
    Kristin A August 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm |

    Although, the last half of that sentence may be accidentally correct. There are some trans* people who ‘always knew’ what their gender identity was. So those people would, indeed, be the same gender today as they were from day one.

    Thing is, those of us who didn’t “always know” (but had something else like denial or something similar) were also born as the same gender they are today – just that their gender identity did change, and thus their expression too.

    To answer that quote-from-another-forum, I’m biologically female, especially in terms of my secondary sex characteristics, just with a reversible anatomical condition and chromosomes which frankly are neither here nor there.

  344. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    Thanks, Kristin. This is why I so despise the use of the term “biological woman” or “biological female” to distinguish non-trans women from trans women: all it does (as it’s intended to do) is reinforce the idea that trans women are “constructed” and not “natural.”

    Believe it or not, I am a woman who’s “biological” myself. I wasn’t created in a factory out of spare parts; I am not a monstrosity. (See Susan Stryker’s famous essay from 1994, “My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage.”) I may have arrived where I am by a different path from most of you, but here I am.

  345. David
    David August 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm |

    I have yet to see any accurate definition that distinguishes between the terms gender and gender identity. They are in all cases the exact same thing, so why do we even use “gender identity”? I have stopped using it altogether, on the grounds that it is confusing.

    For someone assigned to the wrong gender at birth, there can be change to their legal and/or medical designation, and change to their expression and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics, but none of these things are synonymous with gender.

  346. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

    My earlier rage comment is stuck in mod, but Donna, Kristin, and every trans woman in here, I would like to applaud you for staying calm in the face of all of the horrors in here.

    I had girlhood and womanhood handed to me on a plate. It cost me nothing, I didn’t have to work at it. If anything it’s you that are the ‘real’ women, you fought for it. We did the marathon on a bus, you ran it barefoot. The title is yours. You earned it.

    And, per the qualifications above, I don’t count either. Can’t have kids, don’t make the right hormones, have ‘male’ characteristics, am I XX? I dunno!

  347. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    I have yet to see any accurate definition that distinguishes between the terms gender and gender identity. They are in all cases the exact same thing, so why do we even use “gender identity”? I have stopped using it altogether, on the grounds that it is confusing.

    For the reasons stated above, I have to disagree: they are not in all cases the exact same thing, because “gender” can also mean gender expression; every single-anti-discrimination law I know of (to the extent trans people had any role in the drafting) expressly covers both. If you were correct, then the term “transgender” would, in all cases, be inaccurate, and the transsexual supremacists who denigrate the term on the ground that it necessarily implies a change in gender identity would be correct.

    They are not correct. But I would suggest to you (especially if you’re trans yourself) that this is not the place to pursue the sort of internecine terminology debate that all too often consumes trans forums and message boards.

  348. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    I should amend what I said to read “would, in many cases, be inaccurate”: there are, of course, trans people who feel that their gender identity (and not only their gender expression) has in fact changed over time.

  349. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

    And by “the title is yours” I don’t mean in a patronising way, I mean “How can it even be disputed?” That’s what I cannot understand, that “Not a real woman” mindset.

  350. EG
    EG August 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    I would say that under patriarchy, nobody achieves girlhood/womanhood easily or without cost, but certainly trans women have it far, far harder.

  351. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    Oh and I have many thoughts today. Sack of drugs in me. But why do the transphobes care so much? “Woman” is not finite.

    One person’s brain finally being mapped to the right body parts does not result in someone else somehow being disqualified, banned from calling themself “Woman”.

    We need fourth wave, inclusive transfeminism now. I’m sick of every majority group deciding whose cause is worthy of support, which social justice issues count. Intersectionality isn’t optional, it’s necessary. Feminism is pointless without it.

  352. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    Haha EG, you beat me to my next correction!

    Obviously none of us are “real”, none of us escape the boot of the patriarchy, but those of us who are cis squeak through. Hell, I know trans women who “pass” better than me! Yet I’m somehow the real deal.

  353. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm |

    Finally, if anyone knows the true depths of contempt and hatred the patriarchy has for women, it’s our sisters who were forced to live in male disguises. Women who went unnoticed in the world of patriarchal male culture, and had to bearabout our inferiority*, had to hear the scornt in it’s raw, unfiltered state. Hell on earth.

    This is why trans women should be considered an asset to the. cause. They were undercover women who had to absorb the public face of patriarchy that tells girls and women how to be, what to do, what’s appropriate, who had to undergo the conditionsing for their gender while being unable to act on those instructions. On top of that, they were forced to endure the ‘behind the scenes+ stuff too.

    They spent years being told they were inferior, that as women they were lesser, without ever being able to say “I’m a woman, how can you say that of your wives, sisters, daughters and mothers? About me?” I can’t even imagine the pain and shame of it all.

    We need these women, we need their experiences and history. They were the undercover operatives, they should be considered heroes of the resistance to patriarchal rule, because they bore the full brunt of it. They had to swim in those toxic waters, and get across to the other side. Too many trans women drown under the weight of “You, woman, have no worth”.

  354. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    I’m no hero of any kind, partial human, and wouldn’t want to be, much as I appreciate the support. All I ever wanted was to be just another woman, another fish in the sea.

    But, the stories I could tell of things I heard when men thought there were no women around? Some of it was every bit as bad as you could imagine. There were times, especially in later years when I had already begun to transition, when I really did feel like a spy. And there was a price to pay for speaking up against sexist comments, especially in groups — a price I couldn’t always afford to pay — although I did it as much as I could, especially one-on-one, and especially with men who pretty much came out and told me (with great certainty) that they didn’t view women as being fully human, that they were essentially a different species. I remember one time when I was 20, arguing about that with a 25-year old law school classmate who was then one of my closest friends. (The last time I checked, a few years ago, he was a law professor at Tulane.) I couldn’t believe he was serious, but he was, and I got so upset I started crying, which wasn’t very effective at all! Later on, I discovered accidentally that he didn’t think much of Jews, either. Why he liked me, I have no idea.

  355. Partial Human
    Partial Human August 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

    Much as I thought. Wow. That’s why I look up to fierce older women, like you. You blaze a trail for the rest of us, y’know?

    We all need strong role models, all girls and women (regardless of the body they inhabit), to show us that biology isn’t destiny.

    All I can hope is that we’re all forging the fourth wave together, and moving into a future movement that learns from everyone in it.

    Some awesome people in this community at the moment. So hugs for everyone that gives my poor, crippled, queer, non-NT self some hope.

    And now? CHILLI TIME!

  356. David
    David August 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

    ..this is not the place to pursue the sort of internecine terminology debate..

    That’s certainly fair, but I do want to be clear that I explicitly refuse to participate in or even pay much attention to that internecine debate, so it would be fair to say that I am kind of deliberately naive about it. I do think that the common terminology is largely responsible for the kind of ignorance some cis men have expressed here, and that we should be able to discuss something as important as the language we use without it becoming instantly toxic. The term gender identity by definition asserts that there is some other entity separate and distinct from one’s gender, which naturally leads to the notion that gender is “real” while gender identity is something else, extra, constructed. I don’t see how people are supposed to avoid that conclusion.

    I understand that pragmatically we have to have all these terms included in legislation, but the root cause of that necessity is 1) the refusal to accept the fact of other people’s gender in those cases when they have been assigned in error, and 2) insistance on policing gender norms in presentation. Gender expression addresses the latter, and that term makes sense to me in a way that identity does not.

    Since I understand the term identity to refer to my internal sense of my gender, I still don’t see how my gender identity is or could ever be different from my gender. If my internal sense of my gender is male, it’s because my gender is male. That distinction is just absolutely meaningless to me. I also don’t see how being trans or cis would make any difference in this regard, and that’s the point – everyone is the same in that we all know what the hell our own gender is. If you are smacking yourself in the forehead right now, please help me see what I am missing.

  357. Chiara
    Chiara August 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

    i think in these anti-discrimination laws gender identity is used to mean the gender one identifies as, for example you can’t discriminate against a trans woman for identifying as a woman

    while gender expression means you cant discriminate against someone for having gender expression that doesn’t match there gender identity — for example you cant discriminate against a cis man for painting his nails or something.

    is this about right?

  358. Li
    Li August 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

    I don’t think the assertion is that gender identity is outside of gender, but that it is one facet of it. And the way Donna is using the term, I think (and she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) is in fact almost the opposite way to how you’re interpreting it. Gender is *deeply* socially constructed. It’s a set not just of internal senses about who we are and our bodies, but a whole set of practices, expectations and designations. You may feel internally that you are male, but that identity is then given vast further meaning by the social infrastructure of gender. So when people talk about gender identity, they’re not relating it to some “real” or essential notion of gender, but a broad social concept of which identity is only one part.

  359. DonnaL
    DonnaL August 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    No time to go into detail, but, yes, Li is correct.

  360. David
    David August 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

    Yep, we’re talking about different things. I’m referring to neurological gender, which just is what it is. What you’re describing is what I would call, yeah, “the social infrastructure of gender.” Maybe it’s the unmodified term “gender” that’s problematic.

  361. Gemma Seymour-Amper
    Gemma Seymour-Amper August 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    Reading through the comments here is a refreshing change from reading through the comments at Slate, where my very well-considered counterpoints were summarily deleted on multiple occasions, while purveyors of anti-trans hatred and willful denial of the reality of what it means to be trans were left to run amok.

    Thank you to all people who support trans people. This quote from Partial Human brought me near to tears, for it hits very, very close to the mark:

    They spent years being told they were inferior, that as women they were lesser, without ever being able to say “I’m a woman, how can you say that of your wives, sisters, daughters and mothers? About me?” I can’t even imagine the pain and shame of it all.

    We need these women, we need their experiences and history. They were the undercover operatives, they should be considered heroes of the resistance to patriarchal rule, because they bore the full brunt of it. They had to swim in those toxic waters, and get across to the other side. Too many trans women drown under the weight of “You, woman, have no worth”.

    If you would like to view the two comments of mine that were met with the most resistance, please visit these two links:

    http://gcvsa.tumblr.com/post/28420549307/one-of-my-many-comments-on-the-slate-article-theres

    http://gcvsa.tumblr.com/post/28424941493/more-commentary-on-trans-disclosure

  362. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

    Hell, I know trans women who “pass” better than me!

    Partial Human. . .this sentence brought to mind a comic I really like about a cissexual dyke who gets harassed for being in the “wrong” bathroom and a passing trans woman who speaks up for her. Here’s the link: http://tal9000.tumblr.com/image/20518625542

    P.S. I’m not trying to imply, of course, that you are transphobic in any way like the woman who got harassed. The truth is I’m immensely grateful to have allies as kickass, eloquent, and compassionate as you. It’s an inspiration and a relief.

    Can I be one of you ladies? Could you ever accept a beast like me? I have cake, prescription opiates, and a box of fancy crackers. Oh, and about 20 boxes of cyproterone acetate!

    I think something can be arranged. Let’s talk outside after the show.

  363. Marina
    Marina August 7, 2012 at 7:42 am |

    Since I understand the term identity to refer to my internal sense of my gender, I still don’t see how my gender identity is or could ever be different from my gender. If my internal sense of my gender is male, it’s because my gender is male. That distinction is just absolutely meaningless to me. I also don’t see how being trans or cis would make any difference in this regard, and that’s the point – everyone is the same in that we all know what the hell our own gender is. If you are smacking yourself in the forehead right now, please help me see what I am missing.

    I think that what you don’t get here, or at least what I think that you don’t get here is that you’re a cis-male. Meaning that the gender* you think of yourself as and the gender* that your reproductive organs say you are are the same. If I’m correct, (please tell me if I’m making a mistake here, I’m not transsexual and have never (to my knowledge) met a transsexual so I may be wrong) transsexual people have a divide between what their internal sense of gender is and the gender they were assigned at birth.

    If my internal sense of my gender is male, it’s because my gender is male

    No, it’s because you’re a cis-male, as I mentioned before. My internal sense of gender is female. I happen to have a vagina and uterus and breasts.

    Of course there’s also the complex issue of how upbringing influences gender and I’m not well informed enough on the issue to make any assumptions or comment.

    Also, I’d like to mention that it seems that only heterosexual cis-males have been mentioned as people that wouldn’t want to sleep/date/whatever with a trans-woman. I find it interesting that there’s no mention of heterosexual cis-females not wanting to date trans-men or homosexual cis-females not wanting to date trans-women or homosexual cis-men not wanting to date trans-men.

    There probably are but I find it interesting that the people having the most trouble with the fact that “Ahh! My potential romantic partner is a TRANSSEXUAL!!!” Is the heterosexual cis-men.

    Also, I’m new to this whole thing so if I make any mistakes/offend anyone I would appreciate if someone would enlighten me. (And note that any offence I give is accidental)

    *Sorry, I still get super confused as when to use gender or sex or whatever so bear with me please?

    Much as I thought. Wow. That’s why I look up to fierce older women, like you. You blaze a trail for the rest of us, y’know?

    We all need strong role models, all girls and women (regardless of the body they inhabit), to show us that biology isn’t destiny.

    All I can hope is that we’re all forging the fourth wave together, and moving into a future movement that learns from everyone in it.

    Some awesome people in this community at the moment. So hugs for everyone that gives my poor, crippled, queer, non-NT self some hope.

    And now? CHILLI TIME!

    Hugs back at you Partial Human. And Donna and other transsexuals on this post, I’m sorry you had to read through a ton of people’s stupid stupid stupid shit.

  364. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm |

    Marina, I think when David was talking about gender and gender identity being the same what he was referring to as “gender” is sometimes also referred to as “neurological gender,” “brain sex,” or “subconscious sex.” Basically, there’s a theory with a certain amount of scientific evidence that maintains that men’s and women’s brains are sexually dimorphic with certain small structures in their brains being significantly different. And that trans women and cis women have the same versions of these structures as each other and that trans men and cis men also have the same versions of these structures as each other, and that all this is probably determined by fetal hormone levels in utero. In other words, according to this theory, transsexual people are “born this way.” Of course, you’re right that most transsexual people also experience body dysphoria (or discomfort) in regards to our secondary sexual characteristics (facial/body hair, breasts, shoulders, hips, etc.), our genitals, or both–and that we therefore desire to modify our bodies.

    Also, I wouldn’t feel bad about not knowing when to use “gender” and when to use “sex.” In my opinion, the problem is that these are vague, imprecise, everyday English words that are used differently by different political groups to convey different points. Government officials believe they should be used one way, radical feminists believe they should be used another way; queer theorists believe they should be used another way; etc., etc.

    Also, I’m new to this whole thing so if I make any mistakes/offend anyone I would appreciate if someone would enlighten me.

    Since you asked. . .your use of “trans-woman” and “cis-men”and so on is nonstandard. The more common usage is without a hyphen, as in: “trans woman” and “cis men.” I don’t really find this personally offensive but continued use of these words with a hyphen will lead many people to assume you are either ignorant about or hostile toward trans rights.

  365. Jadey
    Jadey August 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    There probably are but I find it interesting that the people having the most trouble with the fact that “Ahh! My potential romantic partner is a TRANSSEXUAL!!!” Is the heterosexual cis-men.

    Cis men are the most likely to get violent about it, as far as I can tell, but it should be noted that some cis lesbians have been pretty fricking transphobic to lesbian/bi trans women. (And to trans men, as well, but in a different kind of way.)

    Basically, transphobia is widely practiced and endorsed. :(

  366. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    Cis men are the most likely to get violent about it, as far as I can tell, but it should be noted that some cis lesbians have been pretty fricking transphobic to lesbian/bi trans women. (And to trans men, as well, but in a different kind of way.)

    You’re definitely right, Jadey. Although in my (admittedly pretty limited) personal experience, I’ve found that on average cis queer women have been more understanding of me than cis straight men, cis straight women, or cis queer men. Some of this may have to do with my individual personality, hobbies, political views, gender presentation, etc. But I think the marginalizing experiences of being queer and being a woman tend to make a person pretty open minded and tolerant of difference. . .which is why I’ve always puzzled over the existence of small, closed-minded subgroup of ideological fanatics within that population who claim to be the only real lesbians and the only real feminists.

  367. Li
    Li August 9, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

    There probably are but I find it interesting that the people having the most trouble with the fact that “Ahh! My potential romantic partner is a TRANSSEXUAL!!!” Is the heterosexual cis-men.

    A lot of this discussion focused in on trans women and heterosexual men because that’s where the pushback was, but I definitely know trans women and trans feminine people who have faced a lot of bullshit from cis queer women and/or lesbians as well as trans men who have faced bullshit from cis queer/gay men. I think it’s important to recognise that just because this discussion didn’t really get around to those issues doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

    I do agree with LotusBecca though that the cis queer women I know tend to be, as a group, the most supportive of trans rights. It doesn’t help that a lot of queer men are, frankly, epic misogynists and that even if they recognise trans women as women they’re still likely to think they’re uppity oversensitive bitches. (The last three or so days on my facebook have not. been. fun.)

  368. Marina
    Marina August 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

    LotusBecca, thanks for informing me. I still have a lot to learn… the stuff about having different structures in the brains depending on your sex/gender sounds incredibly interesting, yet probably went over my head. However, I ask that if it might have been effected by hormone levels in utero would there be a specific cause? A certain gene that cause more of hormone A then hormone B? Or would it just be a fluke? Or something even related to the mother (like her diet for example) ? If you could point me in the direction of any articles on the topic I’d be much oblidged.
    And, yeah the body dysphoria was what I was attempting to talk about, though I don’t pretend to have any experience in that area.

    Also, I wouldn’t feel bad about not knowing when to use “gender” and when to use “sex.” In my opinion, the problem is that these are vague, imprecise, everyday English words that are used differently by different political groups to convey different points. Government officials believe they should be used one way, radical feminists believe they should be used another way; queer theorists believe they should be used another way; etc., etc.

    Yeah, part of the reason why I get confused about their use in the first place is because I really don’t want to have to read tons of articles explaining what they think they should be used as. The whole thing gives me a headache when I try to figure it out…

    Since you asked. . .your use of “trans-woman” and “cis-men”and so on is nonstandard. The more common usage is without a hyphen, as in: “trans woman” and “cis men.” I don’t really find this personally offensive but continued use of these words with a hyphen will lead many people to assume you are either ignorant about or hostile toward trans rights.

    Oops… I tend to use incorrect English and err on the side of hyphenating as well as hyphenating when there really isn’t a reason for it so thanks for the heads up.

    Cis men are the most likely to get violent about it, as far as I can tell, but it should be noted that some cis lesbians have been pretty fricking transphobic to lesbian/bi trans women. (And to trans men, as well, but in a different kind of way.)
    Basically, transphobia is widely practiced and endorsed. :(

    Darn it, I knew I forgetting something. I completely forgot about the cis lesbians and cis bisexuals. (How do you pluralize ‘bi’ anyway?) And to think that there were some good comments on the whole issue…
    I just don’t get what the problem people have with transsexual is. I can’t relate to what they think.
    The world can be a bad place…

    …which is why I’ve always puzzled over the existence of small, closed-minded subgroup of ideological fanatics within that population who claim to be the only real lesbians and the only real feminists.

    Yeah… but really what? “Only ‘real’ lesbians?” “Only ‘real’ feminists?” They really think they can determine what’s real or not? Ugh… I don’t have the words to describe my feelings on that….

    Thanks Jadey and LotusBecca, it was an eye opener. :D

  369. Marina
    Marina August 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm |

    Li, thanks for eye opener. It was kinda sillly for me to think that stuff like that didn’t exist because it wasn’t mentioned….

    Then again I really have no experience in the matter so I really don’t know how things work…..

    Sorry to hear about your facebook. Sounds annoying to say the least.

  370. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 11, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

    Marina, I’m glad that what I said was helpful! In terms of fetal hormone levels, I’m not well informed about the science around them and how they may or may not affect a person being trans. So your guess is as good as mine as to how to track down articles about that, and I wish you luck with finding some good stuff if you’re interested. Honestly, I’m not a big science person, however, and I tend to view the whole nature/nurture debate around why people are trans as being irrelevant to what I really care about, as I tend to view the whole nature/nurture debate more generally. The bottom line for me is that everyone has the same human rights to receive respect, be included in society, have full self-determination over their body and appearance, be safe from violence, receive sufficient medical care, and so on–and this includes trans* people. If trans people were former cis people who just happened to become trans after being struck by lightning while jogging in thunderstorms. . .this still wouldn’t alter the fact that trans* people deserve the same basic human rights that cis people do–rights that society is currently denying us through systematic oppression.

    The only reason I bring this up (I’m not ranting at you. You merely reminded me of a topic that I thought would be entertaining and fun and meaningful to rant about!) is that certain fence sitters are willing to extend freedom and equality to oppressed people if they believe those people are “born that way” but not necessary if they believe those people are “choosing” to be that way. But this is a red herring. Being trans is not bad, and it’s not bad regardless of its cause. Whereas being transphobic is always bad, and even if it was somehow proved that certain people were born transphobic. . .these transphobes would still be oppressive jerks who would need to be continually challenged by people concerned about social justice.

  371. Marina
    Marina August 12, 2012 at 3:46 am |

    I agree with everything you say there and you say it a lot better that I could. :D
    I’m not interested in fetal hormone levels because they might prove that trans people are born that way, I’m interested because I’m a huge science/medical nut and can spend hours reading the backs of medication… I agree with you that it doesn’t matter honestly. Whether they were “born that way” or became trans by being struck by lightning as you gave as an example it still doesn’t change anything…. And yeah… fence sitters can be just ugh…. Seriously what’s the difference?
    What really bugs me is that whether or not someone is not the gender they were at birth (using gender really loosely…) is none of their business. They don’t (shouldn’t) have a say in what someone else does to their body. THEIR body. Not yours…. (Does that make any sense??)
    And yep. Nothing else to say, you said it all better than I could have….
    Btw… I was wondering, why do many commenters put an asterisk after trans? Like “trans* people” Is there a reason?

  372. Jadey
    Jadey August 12, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  373. Jadey
    Jadey August 12, 2012 at 9:30 am |

    Personally, as someone who is not trans but who has a queer sexual orientation, the “born this way” arguments really piss me off. I get that it’s an attempt to re-appropriate biological determinism in our favour, but it’s *still* biological determinism, which is at its heart a lazy and inaccurate way to understand how we come to be who we are. Absolutely no one is who they are exclusively because “they were born that way” – every moment of personal experience and biological brain development matters. “Born that way” erases the journey of who I am and puts me in an uncomfortable box.

  374. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve August 12, 2012 at 9:57 am |

    “Born that way” erases the journey of who I am and puts me in an uncomfortable box.

    ‘Born that way’ is more of a slogan than an argument. As such it’s extremely powerful, meaning ‘nothing you say is going to change my orientation.’ Having said that I totally agree with you about ‘born that way’ arguments, after all, if we one day do discover a ‘gay gene’ that would just give the eugenicists fuel for their flames.

  375. Marina
    Marina August 12, 2012 at 10:04 am |

    Thanks for the link Jadey. That was extremely helpful. :D

  376. DouglasG
    DouglasG August 12, 2012 at 11:30 am |

    Ugh, the Born That Way debate. Having no definitive answer is the only way to avoid a classic case of Morton’s Fork. The Powers that Be are ready with the skewer either way. And the fence-sitters Ms Lotus describes never seem to respond well to being asked to consider why it should matter so much.

    I’ve seen some of what Mr Li describes among cis queer people and antagonism of slightly different nature in both directions, though M to F is stronger. Personally, though, I’ve found it can really vary depending on area. When I was active, I was fortunate enough that the modest city where I live was on the whole quite inclusive, with critical mass across the board for both women and men on issues and in organizations. It was eye-opening to work with groups in another city of similar size half an hour away, where X was X, Y was Y, and neither of the twain had much interest ever in meeting.

    My best guess would be that a lot of cis gay men have a sort of club mentality. It’s as if Club Civil Rights were having Queer Night, but, being a highly exclusive club, will only admit a small number of people to a limited area of the club. The CGMs, having used their patriarchal advantages such as they are in order to push through to the front of the queue, would rather make sure they get in with a handful of CLWs and get all they have coming to them, rather than work to insist that the club let in everyone.

  377. Azalea
    Azalea August 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm |

    Or a different race, for that matter.

    There has been cases where witholding that “insignificant” piece of information has lead to murders. If someone is a racist and you can “pass” and you think it’s better to marry the racist there is something fundamentally wrong with that picture. I get that there are slim pickings but if this guy is the type to react violently to ever finding out, he would end up killing Juliet AND her cousin. This isn’t a hypothetical. Such things have happened (remember the guy whoe ither went on the Jenny Jones or Ricki Lake show, found out his ex was trans and killed her?). It’s Juliet’s life and her body and past but if she isn’t telling him out of fear that he’d hurt her if he knew, clearly someone who wants you dead isn’t the right one for you.

  378. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm |

    Because trans* issues aren’t that visible in the mainstream, it can be hard to know who is a bigot and who isn’t. I’ve certainly had experiences where I expected someone to be accepting and they wound up being a jerk or where I expected them to be a jerk and would up being accepting. So a certain amount of generalized caution around cis people can be a prudent self-protection mechanism. And I certainly don’t think it’s any business of cis people–who as a group are our number one physical threat–to be offering us advice about the best way to go about protecting ourselves.

  379. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue August 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

    Jadey, I agree. Whenever I hear the born this way argument my first thought is “so what if it turns out I actually have a ‘male’ brain or whatever? Does that mean my identity is a lie?” I realize that’s silly, of course, but since my acceptance of myself as a woman is fairly recent I guess I’m not entirely secure in my identity yet, so it still gets me needlessly worried.

  380. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca August 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

    Sophia. . .I went through a period of worrying about that, too. One thought that consoled me was the idea that I am a woman, period. So if it turns out that my brain is different in some ways from the brains of most other women, that just means I’m a different type of woman. A cis woman wouldn’t stop considering herself a woman if a brain scan showed her brain was different from most other women, so why would I? The main difference between me and her is just that I’ve been told by most everyone, as if it were a certainty, that I’m not a woman for my entire life. And it’s easy to internalize something like that not matter how inaccurate it is.

  381. Marina
    Marina August 13, 2012 at 6:49 am |

    I think I foung the link to the article you were talking about.
    Can you make any sense of the scientific gibbery jabber? The important part is the summary anyway.

    Because trans* issues aren’t that visible in the mainstream, it can be hard to know who is a bigot and who isn’t. I’ve certainly had experiences where I expected someone to be accepting and they wound up being a jerk or where I expected them to be a jerk and would up being accepting. So a certain amount of generalized caution around cis people can be a prudent self-protection mechanism. And I certainly don’t think it’s any business of cis people–who as a group are our number one physical threat–to be offering us advice about the best way to go about protecting ourselves.

    Ugh… that just sounds so hard for you guys… And yeah cis people shouldn’t try to tell you how to live your life. I try not to be a jerk? I hope that I succeed….

    Jadey, I agree. Whenever I hear the born this way argument my first thought is “so what if it turns out I actually have a ‘male’ brain or whatever? Does that mean my identity is a lie?” I realize that’s silly, of course, but since my acceptance of myself as a woman is fairly recent I guess I’m not entirely secure in my identity yet, so it still gets me needlessly worried.

    Sophia. . .I went through a period of worrying about that, too. One thought that consoled me was the idea that I am a woman, period. So if it turns out that my brain is different in some ways from the brains of most other women, that just means I’m a different type of woman. A cis woman wouldn’t stop considering herself a woman if a brain scan showed her brain was different from most other women, so why would I? The main difference between me and her is just that I’ve been told by most everyone, as if it were a certainty, that I’m not a woman for my entire life. And it’s easy to internalize something like that not matter how inaccurate it is.

    As a cis woman I can agree with you…. If someone told me that my brain structure was identical to a man’s I wouldn’t consider myself a man. If someone told me my brain structure was identical to a heterosexual female (or a homosexual female, or was just weird), not a pansexual female then it wouldn’t change who I date. It shouldn’t matter for trans* people either.

  382. Marina
    Marina August 13, 2012 at 6:50 am |

    Fudge. It ended up linking THE WHOLE THING. So yeah, the huge link is to the article.

  383. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan August 13, 2012 at 11:46 am |

    There are SO many things that realistically should have more relevance to a couple’s sex life — or romance — than a mis-assigned gender at birth. Like, my medications affect my libido. This is a pain in the ass for having sex! And yet no one has ever told me I should come out about taking antidepressants on a first date, despite the potentially huge effect it could have on the relationship. (Probably some people would disagree, but I’ve never seen a Jerry Springer episode about “my girlfriend is secretly a little bit clinically depressed!!”)

    So why the concern over past assignations of gender or sex that don’t have to affect anything when there are none of the same concerns about my *cis* problems? It’s almost like there’s some sort of irrational fear… of trans-ness… a “phobia” if you will… 9_9

    TL;DR: the original question was dumbassed and transphobic. The fact that anyone even would ask that question is proof that the world is still dumbassed and transphobic. End.

  384. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue August 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

    Thanks Becca. I’ve been trying to tell myself those things, too, but your right, almost everyone and everything around me have been telling me that I am a man. It feels good to have another voice other than my own reminding me that I’m a woman.

  385. Marina
    Marina August 14, 2012 at 10:15 am |

    There are SO many things that realistically should have more relevance to a couple’s sex life — or romance — than a mis-assigned gender at birth. Like, my medications affect my libido. This is a pain in the ass for having sex! And yet no one has ever told me I should come out about taking antidepressants on a first date, despite the potentially huge effect it could have on the relationship. (Probably some people would disagree, but I’ve never seen a Jerry Springer episode about “my girlfriend is secretly a little bit clinically depressed!!”)

    So why the concern over past assignations of gender or sex that don’t have to affect anything when there are none of the same concerns about my *cis* problems? It’s almost like there’s some sort of irrational fear… of trans-ness… a “phobia” if you will… 9_9

    TL;DR: the original question was dumbassed and transphobic. The fact that anyone even would ask that question is proof that the world is still dumbassed and transphobic. End.

    Exactly. That is exactly my thoughts on the matter…. wow. You manage to sum it up so well. :D

  386. Donna L
    Donna L August 14, 2012 at 10:49 am |

    Good point, Bagelsan. I think that my anti-depressant-related libido issues are far more relevant to any potential relationship than my having a trans history.

  387. Azalea
    Azalea August 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm |

    There are SO many things that realistically should have more relevance to a couple’s sex life — or romance — than a mis-assigned gender at birth.

    Romance, I agree, sex life I disagree unless you are talking about post SRS. Most straight women don’t want to do any sexual act involving a vagina other than their own, same for most cis straight men. Even post op, science has a ways to go, especially for trans men. From what I’ve read trans men are restricted in size and functionality while trans women nealry mirror that of cis women.

    But, if a person makes it clear that they would not knowingly have sex/be ina romantic/sexual relationship with a trans person/person of color, democrat/liberal/, muslim/jew/christian/buddhist then regardless of the slim pickings, wouldn’t it make one’s status of being in any of those categories relevant to the relationship?

  388. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm |

    But, if a person makes it clear that they would not knowingly have sex/be ina romantic/sexual relationship with a trans person/person of color, democrat/liberal/, muslim/jew/christian/buddhist then regardless of the slim pickings, wouldn’t it make one’s status of being in any of those categories relevant to the relationship?

    Of course it would. THe trouble, though, is that the transphobes upthread were mostly arguing that that status should be disclosed even if they don’t make it clear that they wouldn’t date/fuck anyone who isn’t Cis McCisserson. Apparently “it’s on you to disclose your dealbreakers” is too complex for them to grasp.

  389. Azalea
    Azalea August 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm |

    Of course it would. THe trouble, though, is that the transphobes upthread were mostly arguing that that status should be disclosed even if they don’t make it clear that they wouldn’t date/fuck anyone who isn’t Cis McCisserson. Apparently “it’s on you to disclose your dealbreakers” is too complex for them to grasp.

    Ahhhh, the crowd who assumes and expects that woman = being born with a vagina and man = being born with a penis. The narrowminded bunch. Got it.

    I wont “throw” stones at people for thier preferences, no matter how shallow they are but the assumption that you could never be attracted to a person who is in ___ group is silly. There WILL be trans persons, people of color, people from various ethnic/cultural/religious backgrounds that one would find attractive and it is not THEIR problem when the person who is attracted to them happens to be shallow and/or a bigot. Definitely on them if they’re going to be in the bigot/shallow closet about their preferences.

  390. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune August 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm |

    There WILL be trans persons, people of color, people from various ethnic/cultural/religious backgrounds that one would find attractive and it is not THEIR problem when the person who is attracted to them happens to be shallow and/or a bigot. Definitely on them if they’re going to be in the bigot/shallow closet about their preferences.

    Yes! This. *grins* Thanks for getting it. And yeah, that thread got extremely ugly up there, holy shit.

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