Mar. 11th, 2011

Okay, here's another point of confusion for a lot of people: what do the words "gay" or "straight" mean when applied to trans people or relationships with trans people?

The answer is quite simple: the exact same thing they always mean.

No, really. It's true! Despite the fact that Netflix categorizes "Boys Don't Cry" as "lesbian drama", a relationship between a trans man and a cis woman is heterosexual.

Here's an easy way to think of it. "Cis" and "trans" are adjectives and you should treat them as being as relevant as any other adjectives. For example, in the sentence "the tall man fucked the short-haired woman" do the words "tall" or "short-haired" somehow affect the sex of the two people involved in the fucking? No! If the sentence was "the cis man fucked the trans woman" the words "cis" and "trans" are similiarly irrelevant. If you care about the sexes of the people fucking, then the relevant words in the sentence are still "man" and "woman".

Applying these ideas further, let us consider the sentence "a straight woman is attracted to men". Hopefully it is clear now that we implicitly quantify over both "cis" and "trans" the same way we quantify over all other adjectives.

Now, is it possible, for example, for a straight cis woman to not be attracted to trans men? I suppose, but she then needs to own the fact that she is not attracted to men in general, but has a much narrower scope to her sexuality. If that doesn't come from a place of bigotry, fine, but I judge it to be as superficial as someone who could never be attracted to someone with brown hair.

Now, if you feel uncomfortable with this basic premise you might be having trouble accepting that trans people are who they say they are. In this case, you should probably attend a remedial course on trans issues. Everything I say here is predicated on accepting that trans people actually exist and that their lived experience is not some remarkable act of deceit.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know this comes essentially from a binary-identified perspective, and also doesn't really acknowledge bi- or pansexuality. I was just trying to hit on a particular, basic, kind of fail that I see frequently among straight cis people. One that I think is particularly dangerous because of what they do when they feel our existence threatens their sexual identity.
As a slight note from my last post, given the interpretation of "trans" and "cis" as adjectives I hope it should be clear what is wrong with "transwoman" or "transman". It creates a new word, rather than simply modifying the existing one.

Now, you might say this seems like a minor, pedantic, point. I argue that it's an important exercise in internalizing the fact that when one says "man" or "woman" that cis and trans act to denote proper subsets, with equal standing if not equal size, of the set of all men or the set of all women.


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