The first time I was approached by a “transsensual,” I was at an FTM (female-to-male, for those of you new to trans issues) conference and very new to the business of transition. I had no idea that there were non-trans women who specifically sought out trans men as partners.
Over the course of the past 12-plus years, I have come to meet several of these women and to understand a little bit behind the thought process, even though the reasoning does not always hold up under the glare of the reality spotlight.
Women who seek out trans man partners often claim to prefer a partner who has had some female experience in his life. Such a man might be more understanding of the particular difficulties that women face. He might be more open to talking, to listening, and to forming an equal partnership than a non-trans man socialized to be dominant and controlling. He might be more patient and skilled in the bedroom, because he might have a better understanding of a woman’s body. There are other reasons as well — each woman, like each trans man, is different.
All these things about trans men may or may not be true. It depends on the guy. Some of the most chauvinistic men I know are trans, as are some of the most ardent feminists. One size does not fit all.
On the flip side, I have run into several non-trans men seeking trans women as partners. This particular search tends to have more overtly sexual overtones — but not always. One such man told me that he thought trans women were nicer and sweeter than non-trans women. I could introduce him to a few who could dispel that notion pretty quickly.
But in both cases, I have found some trans people who are intrigued by the possibility of someone looking specifically for a trans partner and others who are completely put off by the idea. Is trans attraction a preference — or a fetish? There is a very fine line.
We all have preferences in our attractions. Where they come from is anyone’s guess. Why does one man prefer blondes (or blonds) and another prefer a partner with dark hair? Why does one woman pursue men (or women) who are tall and another go after those who are short? What makes us look across a room at someone and say, “I’m in love,” while our best friend looks at the same person and says, “Bow wow!” It’s a preference.
I can’t tell you why tall, blond surfer boys don’t do it for me, but a dark, brooding intellectual with glasses is just my type. But when do glasses … or dark, brooding intellectuals … or even blond surfer boys turn from a preference to a fetish?
None of us wants to be objectified. None of us wants to think that a person is with us because of some characteristic over which we have no control. And none of us wants to think that we are interchangeable with anyone else who might possess that same characteristic. And I think that’s where the line might be drawn.
My dark, brooding intellectual with glasses might ask, “Are you with me because I wear glasses? If I got contacts, would you stay? If some other dark-haired guy with glasses walks into your field of vision, is he equal to me in your eyes? Does anyone with glasses qualify?”
If a person is no longer a person, but merely a set of glasses, a pair of breasts, a specific configuration of genitalia, or a particular fantasy that has been created around an idea or a misconception about what a certain group of people is like, then the attraction/fetish line has been crossed.
Personally, I’m not particularly offended by someone who is specifically interested in dating trans men. To me, that’s a preference.
But since no two trans men are alike, that person might have to go through quite a few before he or she finds one who is compatible. If compatibility isn’t an issue, then we might have a little fetish thing going on here. So just don’t ask me to wear my glasses to bed.