Transgender tween talks dating
So it was sadly unsurprising when that Laverne Cox interview got quoted on another news site beneath the headline: “Laverne Cox says men who are ashamed of dating trans women are ‘insecure as f*ck.’”If you scroll through the many disgusting responses to that article on social media—which I won’t dignify by reprinting here—you’ll find dozens of people reacting as if the actress had been talking about all straight men, not just the subset of straight men who are already interested in dating transgender women.Cox had to clarify on Twitter this week that the headline was “taken a bit out of context.” “To be clear,” she continued, “I am referring to men who seek out and have sex with trans women but choose to keep us a secret.Over the summer, transgender activist Zinnia Jones tweeted: “I don’t see a problem with telling straight guys who are exclusionary of trans women partners that they should try to work through that.” That’s a different sentiment than what Cox was expressing—and probably a more radical one—but Jones followed that tweet up with ten more, beginning by saying that “nobody has to be with anyone they don’t want.”Jones added that while there may be some “baseline rate” of people who have an “actual true preference” for a non-transgender partner, the fact that “incredible numbers of straight men” secretly date us suggests that “touching a trans woman’s body or genitals is probably way less of an issue than most people think it is.”Jones was not commanding anyone to sleep with transgender women, but she was suggesting that people could probably stand to examine their aversion to us as viable romantic options.It was a point that required a thousand characters of text to express properly.She was attracted to me—woman to woman—before I had a vagina and she’s still attracted to me now that I have one.We have been together long enough that I barely remember what it feels like to go on a date.Media representation of transgender women has—until relatively recently—been almost uniformly negative, depicting us as serial killers, deceivers, and “men in dresses.” 2017 has now seen a record-high number of transgender people who have been killed—cruel violence that is often perpetrated by men who have had romantic relationships or sexual encounters with transgender women.
But of course Jones was willfully misunderstood on social media and—to make a long story short—Fox News host Tucker Carlson ended up devoting an entire segment of his show to the subject with the chyron: “Trans Activist: Men Should Find Us Attractive.”“Now we’re advancing toward mandatory transgender dating,” Carlson told warned his audience. One of the first things I realized was that men were attracted to women like me.
“For real.”Adding insult to injury, Carlson referred to transgender women not as “women” but as “other biological men who are transgender.”Jones was stunned by the fact that the conservative TV host would tell people that “[she] was going to force them to sleep with trans women”—and taken aback by the “thousands of commenters [who] helpfully informed [her] that [she] was too hideous to ever find someone to love.” Somehow her attempt to make a complex point to her 17,000 Twitter followers about transgender dating had given rise to a paranoid rant on a top-rated prime-time cable news show, culminating in Carlson worrying that dating sites could one day require men to date a certain number of transgender women for every cisgender woman they dated. “Mandatory transgender dating” would make a great ironic band name but it is not the political goal of the transgender rights movement. I went to a popular Southern transgender conference to gather information, connect with medical providers, and hopefully make a few friends.
What I wasn’t anticipating were the countless men hanging around the hotel lobby, covertly trying to find a bedtime companion.
This is a real, urgent problem that many transgender women have to face—and one that our community’s best writers, like author Janet Mock, have eloquently explored.
But it doesn’t take long for some readers to react as if transgender women are trying to make it compulsory to date us.
So when it comes to the ridiculous panic around transgender dating—which typically revolves around cisgender men dating transgender women—I have no skin in the game.