A reader wrote to me recently and said she's only attracted to trans men, but not "biological men" (i.e., cis men). She wanted to know if that was "weird." Others have written with similar questions. For example, I've gotten, "I'm a butch attracted to butches; is that weird?" and, "I'm a straight guy attracted to butchy women; is that weird?"
My universal answer is: no. It is not weird at all. It may be statistically uncommon, but who cares? High intelligence and the ability to throw a 95-mile-per-hour fastball are statistically uncommon, too. There's nothing wrong with this. If we were all identical, the world would not be nearly so interesting.
Writer Ann Lamott once said, "Nobody knows what you really want except you, and no one will be as sorry as you if you don't get it" (she was quoting from a letter one of her teachers had written to her, and the teacher was quoting Lillian Hellman). Lamott was talking about writing, but I think the same thing applies to relationships. No one knows who really makes you happy except you.
If--for whatever reason--you're only attracted to trans men, but date cis men because you think you "should," I can imagine a number of possible advantages. It's easier socially (in most places), the dating pool is larger, and you never have to explain the trans thing to your parents. But are these things worth dating someone who doesn't make your heart quicken?
When it comes down to it, what really matters in a relationship are the micro-interactions you have with that person: the inside jokes, the intimate moments, the quiet moments, the indefinable something that draws you to that person. You can't fake it. And you can't conjure it if it's not really there.
I tried dating femmes for a (short) while, because I thought I "should." After all, my butch friends all liked femmes, and there didn't seem to be many butch or androgynous women interested in dating other butch or androgynous types. But dating femmes just wasn't me. I knew it, but I tried it anyway, and it felt like role-playing. My heart wasn't in it. However common the butch-femme dynamic may be, and however wonderful it is for so many couples, it is not the dynamic that feels most natural and fulfilling to me. Does that make me normatively "weird?" I don't think so. Does it make me uncommon? Maybe. But again: who cares?
As far as I'm concerned, there is not a lot of value to be gained in worrying that you're a femme attracted to only femmes, or a trans guy only attracted to cis men, or a bi woman attracted to everyone except butches. Sometimes terms like "tranny chaser" or "butch fag" are used in disparaging ways to talk about people with uncommon romantic preferences. I think this is because people are threatened by something they can't relate to. And it's easier to call uncommon things "weird" than to try to wrap your brain around the wild diversity of human relationships. In fact, it's SO easy and SO common to label and police and stigmatize and categorize that sometimes even if no one imposes judgment on us, we will impose it on ourselves.
I advise you not to do that. I advise you to pay as much attention as you can to what your gut and heart are saying. The more carefully you listen, the clearer they'll get. And I bet you'll never hear them utter the word "weird."
7/3/2012 03:19:56 am
P.S: After writing this, I realized maybe I'm being hypocritical: When people say they're attracted only to people of a certain race, I feel like this somehow must stem from racism. Why isn't this as "aesthetic" as preferring to date women who wear dresses, or preferring to date only trans men? To me, the race thing feels different somehow, and maybe it shouldn't; maybe I'm being too judgmental. Hm. I'll have to think on this.
While I think racial preferences can be acceptable, sexual orientation (preference for those of a certain sex and/or gender) feels different to me, i.e. sexual orientation feels to me to be always acceptable. Sexual orientation runs really deep in human nature, and I think the reason is the relationship between sexual orientation and procreation. The reason we have sexual desire at all is that we're a sexually reproducing species, and sexual reproduction is related to sexual dimorphism. That heterosexuality and homosexuality exist is unsurprising when contextualized in this way within a larger evolutionary context (there's more explanatory work that needs to be done, obviously but this is just a brief exposure to the sort of explanation I am thinking of). Gender preferences (e.g. for butch women) can then be understood at least in part in terms of sex preferences, since gender is based on sex.
7/3/2012 04:42:06 am
Interesting post - the racism question definitely comes to mind. Makes me think of how various ethnicities are fetishized, and the reductive ways many people characterize race - makes me think of some men who deliberately seek out an "oriental" wife, or white people looking for a 'hot latin lover' . . . ugh. But I love that line in there about "when it comes down to it, what really matters most in a relationship are the micro-interactions you have" - nicely put. you're an in-the-moment romantic, i can tell.
7/3/2012 05:09:02 am
I think being attracted only to trans men is a really complicated issue. Does that mean you aren't recognizing them as men? [Probably more of an issue with folks who date "women and trans men."] Or are not recognizing them to be "the same as" men who were assigned male at birth? I've met some trans men feel very strongly that there is no difference.
2/2/2016 06:27:00 pm
"I have other friends who say that's bullshit and you can't or shouldn't argue with someone's innate attraction or feel obligated to like anyone you don't feel naturally drawn to."
7/3/2012 05:10:19 am
That should read "I've met some trans men WHO feel very strongly that there is no difference."
7/3/2012 06:48:21 am
One question I have for the person who is only attracted to trans men is, how do you recognize trans men? And, as another commenter wondered, why are you not attracted to cis men (since generally it is impossible to tell whether a person is cis or trans unless they tell you)?
8/18/2016 06:58:27 am
im repulsed by disks and fear cis men
7/3/2012 06:52:11 am
Perhaps the difference is that power dynamics are encoded in race in a way that they're not in, for eg, a cis woman fancying transmen or a butch woman fancying another butch woman. There's status involved in skin colour.
7/3/2012 06:57:50 am
And on the 'how do you recognise transmen' question, and 'does it mean you're not recognising them as men', I think it depends on the transman. Some do consider themselves to be the same in every way as cis males, but others consider themselves to be a gender unto themselves. Some consider themselves queer, others aim to assimilate seamlessly into straight society.
7/3/2012 07:39:17 am
I think Jess brings up a good point about the variety of ways people express their genders, and define them, too.
7/3/2012 12:42:09 pm
DB, thanks for your comments. I read the Feministing post and was frustrated and disappointed for a variety of reasons, but really relate to your post about our labels and experiences being individual and to view them in any other way is just way too simplified for me and, I think, for the real world.
some dfab trans* people DO feel that they experienced girlhood and were raised as girls-- but many of us don't. i'm a dfab trans* person, but i wasn't raised as a girl; i was raised as a person who was generally mistaken for a girl. there's a difference, imo. i think it's important to recognize that many dfab trans* people are not a monolith and that we don't all share the experiences of being raised "as girls."
7/7/2012 05:01:18 am
certainly does not sound like a rant! I have to wonder, though, about the objection to "female-born" - after all, female is a biological sex only, not a gender. if you are born with exclusively female reproductive organs and genitals, then your sex is female. Isn't that just biological fact? That is not to say you must then be a 'girl,' then a 'woman' etc. It's such a fundamental assumption for feminists and many queer people etc that sex and gender are not the same thing - one does not determine the other. So why is being 'female' considered a 'feeling'? To object to that seems to imply a muddying of sex/gender. If someone is born with both male and female organs, and then some tragic decisions are made by parents or doctors to 'pick' a sex, then there would definitely be an instance of 'designating' a sex , female or male. But every queer knows that what we are biologically, and how we express our gender does not really go together the way it's expected to by the dominant culture. If some parents are open-minded enough to regard their female child, say for example, as a boy, because the child insists they are a boy or whatever, then i suppose they are raising the child 'as a boy,' and if the teachers etc all acknowledge the child in that way, then maybe this female child really is experiencing 'boyhood,' and all the outside assumptions and ways of relating to a child etc etc that come with that. Regardless of how we feel inside, however, the outside world usually just treats us based on the sex/gender they perceive us to be (and connect those two things). Schools, childhoods, are so incredibly gender-streamed it's freaking insane. It's so incredibly conservative compared to life as an adult, if you ask me. Now i'm rambling. what's my point again? how a person is 'raised' has little to do with how they feel inside/who they feel they are. upbringing is something parents, schools, outsiders do to you. the child's personality influences some of this, but like i said, people are fucked up and they really really want us to be straight girls and straight boys. just hang out with straight parents of young children for a while. . . oh the horror! the horror! :) for example, 'oh look at my cute baby girl with this little boy, aw, her first boyfriend, he's so strong blah blah blah blah ad infinitum.
11/28/2012 12:42:52 pm
I know gender is innate rather than physical. I am a straight female but attracted to transFTM. I dunno why; but I'm sincere in that attraction. Maybe the female aspect is important when including desirable male traits...it's just my love wish...which I wish I could find.
7/19/2012 01:49:30 pm
DB, great comment. You really hit the nail on the head there. I think having a shared experience of having been raised a girl does make a difference.
4/5/2013 04:13:43 am
I think that it's important to take into consideration the fact that not all trans men see themselves as having been girls at some point.
4/11/2017 09:59:04 am
A younger trans man pointed out to me that these days many people transition as young kids, so that argument doesn't hold well for the current generation (and only dubiously for the current one). It will be interesting to see if it is just a generational thing to like women and trans men that maybe came from being with partners who transitioned as adults. Maybe the next generation will not be inclined to differentiate from cis at all. Personally I think I'm only attracted to nonbinary people.
7/3/2012 01:47:46 pm
To quote Joseph Campbell- 'Follow your bliss'
i think it's perfectly wonderful to have sexual preferences! however, i also think sexual preferences are informed by the political and cultural environment they arise in.
@ db: huzzah for interesting conversations! i'm gonna dig right in...
7/12/2012 08:47:47 am
Probably this will never be posted but here it goes...
7/14/2012 01:21:12 am
@Medtech- that reply is spot on!
7/14/2012 10:55:34 am
Make that "if you are born with a healty set of XY chromosomes you are a man and if you are born with a healthy set of XX chromosomes you are a woman".There is such thing as XX males but their XX chromosomes contain a part of the Y chromosome (as a result of a genetic accident during the formation of their fathers spermatozoa).These XX men (intersex really) have male primary and secondary sexual characteristics but are infertile.There are XY people that have a problematic Y and as a result are born without a penis and with external genitalia that aproximate the female ones but do not have ovaries and a uterus.These people are also categorised as intersex.
11/2/2012 03:55:17 am
Realize this is an old post, but here goes.
11/28/2012 01:01:55 pm
Ouch...so much hurt in wanting to find love and acceptance and to be heard. Too many categories to fall in to. Too many restrictions on the why's and how's and who's. Can't we find love regardless of our bodies and seek out the truly meaningful stuff such as intellect, compatibility, companionship, love, etc. This forum is a good platform though and has opened my eyes a great deal.
12/16/2014 10:15:20 pm
I have very recently come to the realisation that I'm mostly attracted to Trans men. Seeing as all the people I have been sexually attracted to ended up coming out at trans at some later point in life. It feels awkward and like i'm insulting the trans community by even admitting this. but at the same time I dont like them because they are trans I find myself liking them for their personality, and found myself sexualy attracted to all of them before they even came out as trans. Even now when they have transitioned I still find them attractive for their personalities... and till now I just find myself only falling for Trans men regardless if I meet them before or after transition and all of the time I have no idea they are untill months later.
3/19/2016 02:22:33 pm
Nobody should feel ashamed of who they are attracted to, none of us can help it. I can fancy trans people very much, because my main attraction is bisexual/gay men. I'm female but I always end up fancying gay/bi guys, again it's for their looks and personality, it just feels like they have the right chemistry for me, emotionally and physically. Straight men just don't do it for me! Maybe it is feminine traits, but what's wrong with that? A trans man has taken hormones which make them more masculine physically than they were before, but of course they may still have feminine features. I just love a blend of characteristics in a person
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