Trans Am: Cis Men and Trans Women in Love by Joseph McClellan, examines the phenomenon of men who love transgender women. The author is himself a trans admirer and shares his own experiences, as well as talking with other men who are attracted to T-girls.
This is the book you’ve all been waiting for! Sort of.
I was super excited to find a book by and for men about trans love. It’s about time! McClellan seems like a nice guy, and I respect how he’s made himself vulnerable to tell his truth and illuminate aspects of human sexuality that are still very much in the dark.
On the downside, I was really hoping for a book that was frank, practical, and affirming without all the cumbersome academic politicizing.
One transgender friend told me in no uncertain terms, “our existence itself is political.” Another disagreed with her completely.
“Stop turning my body into something political with all your big words and theories.”
I fall in between. It’s important to talk about history, human rights, and the political implications inherent in equality and visibility. But too often, the jargon of discourse is too heavy handed to have any meaning in the real world.
This book gives graduate students and gender philosophers plenty to chew on, but I dare say it will alienate the vast majority of men who love transgender women AND the trans women they love!
Words like “episteme,” “taxonomy,” “facticity,” “thematization” and “synechdocal” recur far too often, not to mention “genderfucker.” And while it is certainly the author’s prerogative to approach the subject theoretically, I do believe that what we most desperately need is down to earth information, a “people’s history” if you will, from and for everyday guys.
For example, my friend Nadia continues to work post transition as a forklift operator, a job she did for fifteen years as Nathan. It was a bumpy ride at first but Nadia’s tough. Some of her peers there have dated her, and one confessed he’s been seeing a trans lady for a decade. Nadia said she couldn’t understand a word the book was trying to say. She works with blue collar men—some a threat, but most potential allies, and some trans amourous among them. She’d like a book she can share with all of them.
All that said, it’s still worth leafing through for some interesting discussion among trans admirers and trans women about removing the stigma of trans amory.
Both society and political transgenderism as a movement have been guilty of denigrating men who love trans women as fetishists or objectifiers, making the love of trans people something shameful, to be viewed as an aberration. As my friend Megan says, “Honey, I’m not going to condemn the people who love me.” At the very least, this book, geared to these academics who problematize your kind of love, attempts to break that stereotype and validate and affirm the desire of some men for trans women.
By sharing his own experiences both in relationship with transsexuals and one-night sexual liaisons, McClellan argues that the trans admirer is as human as the trans women of his fantasies.
In a nutshell, this quote works best. “Condemning cis men who wish to articulate a distinct sexual attraction to trans women seems to avoid, deny or suppress a real phenomenon that is not, to my mind, invalid… I will not be ashamed of my desires.”