Trans Attraction and the Heterosexual Male

English is a vibrant, living language, and by all accounts the world’s most “alive” language. However, in discussing the myriad of possible configurations of human romantic and erotic attraction, we lack an agreed-upon vocabulary with which to frame the conversation or to categorize ourselves and others.

While the more or less accepted gay and straight labels describe a large portion of the population, with bisexual carrying the wide middle ground between the two, when discussing the transgender community and those who are trans-attracted, the primarily binary system falls to pieces. Generations of Americans, raised on the clichéd “transvestite hooker” played for laughs, find themselves ill-equipped to deal with real life’s non-binary gender identities and the even more fluid sexual desires of human beings.

A recent HuffPost Live video segment revealed that hip-hop DJ Mister Cee apparently has a thing for picking up trans sex workers to provide him with oral sex. Also discussed was his entrappment by video blogger Bimbo Winehouse, a self-described “cross-dressing drag queen,” who posted a video asserting that Mister Cee is a secret homosexual “on the down low,” with a surreptitious late night recording of Bimbo in a car with Mister Cee negotiating the cost of a blowjob. The panelists included the incomparable Laverne Cox, of Orange is the New Black fame and Janet Mock, an accomplished author and trans activist who asserted that it is the inappropriate conflation of gender identity and sexual preference and homophobia that is the root of many of the problems faced by transgender women in our society. In an example offered by Ms. Cox, who has repeatedly been hit on in the streets by groups of straight men, it can become truly dangerous when one of these men realizes that she is a trans woman, as the men who were up until that moment cat-calling now have to prove to the others (and perhaps themselves) that they are not gay. This can result in verbal and sometimes physical abuse towards the woman who, by merely existing, they blame for what they perceive to be an assault on their heterosexuality and their masculinity.

As GLBT rights and general acceptance expands, so too does acceptance of trans women, although they still face discrimination, abuse, and even violence at shocking and unacceptable rates. Gay, lesbian, and transgender activists working together are working towards the day where regardless of your gender or sexual preference, you will be safe and free to love whomever you love, free from fear of recrimination or violence.

In a recent Salon article,“I’m attracted to trans women,” a self-described heterosexual man reveals that while living in Thailand, famous for it’s large trans population and tolerance of same, he discovered his preference for trans women. He also discusses wrestling with the expected, though wholly-illogical sexual-identity crisis that seems to accompany trans-attraction. He met a girl who he fell in love with, and is now refusing to be ashamed of his choice of companion, stating: “The hardship that trans-attracted men go through (and believe me, it is hard) does not even come close to what trans women have to go through in their day-to-day lives. That is why it’s so important for trans-attracted men to start coming out of the closet. Personally, I am proud to be attracted to women who are so strong.”

If you’re a man who feels conflicted with your attraction to trans women, there’s no reason to feel embarrassed. If you’re ashamed of the people you’re attracted to, you’re part of the problem of trans-attracted men using trans women for sex but never forming a committed relationship with them. Imagine a woman who has been to hell and back trying to transition into who she really is only to be told by her lover that he is ashamed to be with her, or be seen with her.

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