For men interested in meeting transgender women, whether they’re transsexual or in the early stages of transitioning, the lack of language to describe all the shades of sexual orientation and gender identity makes it a difficult subject to discuss.
Assuming that trans men will be attracted to women and that trans women will seek intimacy with men, besides being inaccurate, fails to take into account that gender and sexual orientation exist independently. There are transgender and transsexual women who are attracted to men, women who are bisexual, as well as those who are asexual. Surveys find that among the transgender women about a third identify themselves as bisexual, another third as lesbian and asexual, and finally one third report being heterosexual, attracted to men. As prior to their transition, these trans women were physically men, many have had sexual relationships with women as well as homosexual relationships with men, working their way towards their self-actualization as trans women.
Complicating categorization, many trans women find that their desires shift as they become more fully female. Trans women, who previously avoided intimacy due to body dysmorphia or internalized homophobia, find that once they have begun transitioning that their once dormant and/or conflicted sexuality blossoms over the course of the transition. Relieved from expectations of fulfilling a male role, she is free to live as a female and can have intimate relationships with men without feeling stigmatized for her now-heterosexual relationships.
On the flip side there are trans women who are attracted to women, both pre- and post-transitioning, becoming transgender lesbians, though it can be a difficult adjustment to make. Pre-transitioning, a male-appearing person declaring themselves to be a transgender lesbian sounds like an insensitive joke, and unfortunately they are often treated as such. While any straight frat dude who’s into lesbian porn can make the humorous claim that they’re a lesbian trapped in a male body, the difference is that a transgender lesbian really feels this way, though regardless of which category the person making the assertion is in, both the straight and GLBT communities will tend to label them as a freak.
Making the transition, male to trans lesbian is particularly difficult, as even with the transition underway, the community support structure and acceptance can be lacking, with straights rejecting them for rejecting their desire to change gender, as well as the assumption of a “homosexual lifestyle.” And some lesbians see trans-lesbians as male interlopers, cutting them off from their support groups as the notion of a trans lesbian is difficult for them to process.
Labels aside, trans women, trans men, and you are all human beings. Whether you’re prone to falling for men, women, both or nobody, we all deserve respect and support, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
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