A reader writes: “I am a bi woman who has recently struck up a relationship with a person I thought was a gay woman. She’s come out as trans, but does not want to have sex reassignment surgery. She says she’s a man stuck in a female body.
“That’s not an issue for me. But this could be: She said I can never see her without clothes, and I will never be allowed to touch certain areas of her body. She said if I ever tried to do such things, she would get sick.
“I want to understand what’s going on, and would like to know if you have any suggestions on how to proceed. I never thought it would impact a future sexual relationship in this way.”
I don’t think this particular situation is all that uncommon for trans people. I know a lot of trans people who don’t want specific parts of their body looked at or touched, because they don’t want to think about having those parts.
They don’t get sexual pleasure from those parts because those parts are “wrong” or foreign to them. Not only do they not get sexual pleasure from those parts, but to have to acknowledge them can be almost unbearable and can certainly put a damper on sexual activity.
Not every trans person feels this way, of course, but I don’t think it’s unusual. I think you are going to have to take your partner at his/her word that this contact cannot happen. I also think that you should not go into this relationship with the idea that your partner will change his/her mind later. It’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it.
You have to decide how important this is to you. If you are not able to see or touch this person’s body, or at least certain places on this person’s body, can you still be happy in this relationship? I personally believe that you can still be sexually and romantically satisfied in this relationship, as long as your partner is attentive to your sexual and romantic needs. But only you can make that decision.
It’s been a long time since I read Leslie Feinberg’s classic Stone Butch Blues, and I had a little trouble relating, because that wasn’t me depicted in the book. I’m hoping that readers can tell us whether or not this book might help this writer better understand her partner’s feelings.
I’m also hoping that readers in similar situations – both trans people and partners – can give some advice or relate their personal experiences.
A reader writes: “As the partner of someone who is in the process of transitioning (MTF), I find it really helpful to read what you have here. I have one question, and while it may not pertain to what you personally experienced, it’s something that my partner and I are concerned about.
“We knew a while ago that we both wanted to have kids. However, once she starts hormone therapy, will that destroy our chances of having kids? Once she is on estrogen, will that mean she can’t have kids of her own? What can you recommend for people in our situation?”
I am turning to my trans women readers for suggestions on this one, but one thought I have is that she might talk to her doctor about banking her sperm before she starts hormones.
When she starts estrogen, she will also need to go on a testosterone blocker, I believe, which I think would certainly affect her sperm production. I don’t know if she intends to have any genital surgery or not, but if she does, then that definitely rules out the possibility of producing children.
The other option, of course, is adoption. There are many children out there needing homes. But if the two of you are set on biological children, sperm banking sounds to me like the best bet. I don’t think there are any guarantees of pregnancy with sperm banking, but there are never any guarantees of pregnancy for anyone, trans or not. It would be your best shot (no pun intended).
Readers, what do you say?
A reader writes: “I am 60, a newly transitioning FtM, pre hormones or surgery. I’m working on learning to celebrate and love my current body before I change it. Given the limitations I will still have – no current fully functioning penis option for transmen – I am wondering what my transition is likely to do to my odds of finding a partner.
“Do you know of transmen in long-term relationships with other men? For transmen attracted to men, are long-term relationships common or rare?”
Yes, I do know of quite a few trans men in long-term relationships with other men, both trans and non-trans. I do think it’s more difficult for gay trans men to find partners than it is for trans men attracted to women. I guess I would say that it’s not common or rare. I think it’s somewhere in between.
I also think that the younger you are, the easier it will be for you to find non-trans partners, because younger gay guys have grown up with trans men and have had a lot more exposure to trans men as friends and as sexual and romantic partners.
Older gay men tend not to be as flexible, in my personal experience, although this is obviously a generalization. Gay men of a certain age simply did not have the exposure to as many out gay trans men, and they don’t always know exactly who we are. They also tend to be more set in their ways and their preferences with regard to who they want as a partner. My experience has been that gay men in activist communities tend to be more aware of trans men and more open-minded about the possibility of relationships, although I think friendship is still more common than long-term relationships.
I don’t think it’s going to be easy. I know a lot of non-trans gay men who have problems finding relationships, and I think being trans just adds an extra layer of complication. Some people will say I’m being negative, but I think I’m just being realistic. I think you will face some difficulties, and I don’t want to sugar-coat it.
It’s my opinion that you have to go into transition knowing that this is what you want and need for you, and if a relationship follows, so much the better. Can you be happy living an authentic life with the possibility of being alone, or is the risk too much for you? That’s the question you have to grapple with.
And I would also advise that you don’t rule out trans men as potential partners. Shared experience can result in some of the most richly rewarding relationships in life, and the trans men out there are just as hot as any non-trans gay men that I have seen. I wish you luck!
Readers, what are your thoughts and experiences?