In her vlog “Why Men Like Transsexuals,” trannygirl15 offers her opinions on how and why heterosexual and bisexual men may be attracted to transsexual women. Unfortunately, she gets it all really, really wrong. Now, Maxine does state that she offers her own opinions in her vlog, and you and I can take solace in the fact that her opinions aren’t based on any empirical evidence!
Trannygirl15 begins her video with a pseudo-factoid that really interests me: she claims that men interested in trans women outnumber the latter 20-plus:1. She cites the prevalence of “shemale” pornography as proof of this assertion. Herein begin the fundamental complications with this position. Firstly, in citing pornography, Maxine suggests that porn reflects real-world sexualities. I have major reservations against this assertion, for pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry that utilizes fantasy and compensated models to titillate; real-world sexualities, on the other hand, are intimate and personal, multifaceted and innumerable totalities of sexual experiences that are far too grand and special to capture in a mass-produced product. Just in terms of scale, there’s simply no way that pornography accurately depicts any individual’s whole sexuality, so Maxine’s suggestion falls to inherent fallacy. Secondly, in her insinuation that trans admirers are attracted to “shemale” porn, Maxine forgets that that are plenty of people who are attracted to trans people regardless of their trans identity! That is, Maxine, when someone is attracted to you, who happens to be a transsexual woman, that does not mean that they are interested in you specifically because you are trans; you are a tall, slender, large-breasted woman with an attractive face, and so it’s really not too strange to imagine that strangers might be attracted to you!
Trannygirl15 also recounts a personal anecdote that I find to exhibit a high degree of internalized transphobia. She relates that she has been approached by men at bars several times and, wanting to escape their advances, she decides “to tell them that I am a transsexual… and that will hopefully freak them out a little.” Her underlying argument here, tragically, is that transsexual people are innately undesirable partners; after all, they must be unfashionable partners if revealing one’s trans identity is presumably enough to end unwarranted advances, right? This suggestion proliferates the discourse that transgender and transsexual people are “defective” members of their desired biosex. I find this kind of thinking extremely offensive. I also find it to be counterproductive to the goals of the complete trans equality and integration that Maxine supposedly hopes to inspire through vlogging.
Next, Maxine agrees that “some” admirers of transsexual women may simply be gay men who are subverting their homosexual desires by partnering with the next-best thing. Essentially, the argument here is, “Well, she’s really a man, but she looks feminine enough that no one will think I’m a homo.” The lines of thought behind this assertion are feeble. For one thing, if trans admirers were really just highly-closeted homosexuals, they’d simply just sleep with members of their own sex. Why would they go through this supposed charade of heteronormativity with transsexual women if they were interested in sexing other men all along? If you’ve ever checked any Craigslist personal ad, you’d know that there is a whole world of underground, closeted homo- and bisexual people who are looking to connect with other closeted people; trans people don’t really fit anywhere into that equation, so it’s confusing (and troublesome) that “guru” Maxine suggests they do. As a gay man myself, I can freely say that we’re not interested in trans women. Why? Because they’re women! We’re hoping for strapping David with overdeveloped arms, a beard, and a chocolaty baritone voice, not beautiful Sarah with curvy hips!
Her next reason why some men might like transsexual women is that these men have a “penis fetish.” Here, trannygirl15 gets the technical definition of a “fetish” wrong. Per the word’s true definition, a fetish is something that a person must have in order to feel sexually satisfied. Thus, there are two issues with Maxine’s thinking: one, most male admirers of trans women already have their own penises (Imagine that!); and two, if they truly require their partner to have a penis in order to feel sexually fulfilled, they would thus have to be exclusively attracted to pre-op or non-op transsexual women or cisgender men so that they could interact with another penis. These logical assumptions, though, don’t stand up to real-world scenarios, for trans admirers are seemingly heterosexual and likely not attracted exclusively to trans women, and thus trannygirl15’s assessment is wrong.
Lastly, she muses that a lack of anatomy education for children might leave some young males with the impression that females have penises, creating a lasting sexual desire for women with penises. For the record, I agree with Maxine’s first argument that there is a serious lack of sex education, which leaves a serious gap in information for young people. The second part of this theory, though, is really far-fetched. By the time puberty begins, word has definitely gotten around that genital sexual dimorphism exists, and I highly doubt that there are many pubescent males masturbating to the image of their friend’s older sister’s penis. Additionally, this argument Maxine makes contradicts her earlier assessment that trans admirers are extremely more numerous than trans women, which creates an impassable paradox.
Dear readers, I think it is important to reflect on why this topic is meaningful at all. After all, the topic, boiled down to its foundation, amounts to “Why do hetero- and bisexual men like women?” as if that’s the most complicated or unfathomable question of the millennium. In her video, I think trannygirl15 unwillingly offers a look into the intellectualizations of transsexual women, a minoritized group of individuals who struggle with overcoming the fallacious stereotypes pushed upon them by pornography. (That’s for another blog.) But, in reality, why is it so important to “figure out” why men might be attracted to trans women. Imagine if you constantly needed to ask and question your partner about why s/he likes you; eventually you’d drive yourself crazy and annoy the hell out of your partner. Instead, there is a degree of mutual suspension of intellectualization that is inherent in pairbonding, and unfortunately, trans people are not yet permitted to experience that suspension due to outside cultural pressures.