Rukshana Kapali/Pahichan – Issues of transgender people are burning topic in contemporary society. And Nepal being the most LGBTI friendly country in South Asia, trans issues are more hot topic for discussion. While we talk on human rights, equality and social acceptance issues, there is an emotional aspect that every transwoman faces. The issue of love.
Let me first make it clear that, transwomen also have diverse sexualities. There are transwomen who like men. There are transwomen who like women and there are transwomen who like both men and women. There are transwomen who like transwomen. Transwomen also have their own sexuality.
But, being a transwoman who likes men, I am trying to bring light to emotional aspect of love life issues for transwomen like me. In my article, I taking more emotional hold.
A transwoman, specifically in Nepalese society already face discrimination, stigmatization and hate on various grounds. We are already frustrated by society. Apart from outer world, we all human beings have inner emotions, the emotion of love, the emotion of attraction. Similarly, transwomen also have attraction. We also have desires and physical needs. We also need love, like cisgender people do. We also have desire of affection. Our emotions are either ignored by the society or oppressed inside ourselves by closet trans.
Again another curiosity appears. Transwomen like men. But do men like transwomen? The answer is yes. A lot of men are physically, sexually, emotionally and romantically attracted to transwomen. Again another curiosity is are those men straight or gay? The answer is more complicated here. For the time being, I would resemble those men as “trans-attracted men”. But in more details I would suggest you to read my article on men who are attracted to transwomen
There are men who are attracted to transwomen. But this part of men’s sexuality is completely ignored by the society, probably the part which lacks any sort of visibility in case of Nepal. Despite we have so many men who are attracted to transwomen, their visibility is almost null, in Nepalese society. Reason is: society and they themselves.
I find a lot of men fetishize trans women in a way that they don’t other women. I often hear statements that no man would ever say to a ciswoman. For example: “I’ve always been curious about sex with a transsexual. Can you tell me what your penis is like?”
Society plays a villain in our love life.
Once a famous transwoman celebrity of US said, “Most men who are attracted to and date transgender women are probably stigmatized more than transwoman are.”
It matches perfectly in the Nepalese context since in the heteronormative society in which we live had successfully convinced men that being attracted to transgender women meant they had a fetish. and people begin questioning their sexuality and even their masculinity. Because our culture deems transwomen undesirable, their lovers and partners are often expected to explain why they choose to be with them. Our society has no space for men to openly express their desire to be with trans women. Instead, such men are shamed.
When a man can be shamed merely for interacting with a trans women — we can imagine how society views men who are in relationship with transwomen.
Due to this dear of social exclusion, and stigma, a man marrying a transwoman is a rare case in Nepal. Social norms compel men to keep their attraction to trans women secret, to limit it to the internet, frame it as a passing fetish or transaction. In effect, it is telling trans women that we are only deserving of secret interactions with men. This behavior further demeans and stigmatizes trans women.
This pervasive ideology says that trans women are shameful, that trans women are not worthy of being seen and that trans women must remain a secret — invisible and disposable. If a man dares to be seen with a trans woman, he will likely lose social capital so he must adamantly deny, vehemently demean, trash and/or exterminate the woman in question. Therefore, “why would men choose to be with a transwoman facing so may problems when he can easily be with a biological female?” I also doubt if there are any parents who is ready to accept a transwoman as their bhau-maca(daughter in law)
While overall trans acceptance increases, dating while trans still involves swimming against the tide in a sea of stigmatization, unwanted fetishization and other people’s hang-ups. While there isn’t one dominant trans narrative, and many trans individuals aren’t yet even able to date traditionally in the first place, one thing is clear: Living in a world where trans people are treated as equals centers on tearing down stigmas against trans people — and stigmas against those who date them. The major question would be “Is there any guy who would dare to fight against every social norms and values, with the people of society, in fact even with his parents and family in order to be with a transwoman he loves?” He must do this to maintain his standing in our patriarchal society. He must have a child. There is a strong social pressure, or at least a strong fear of social condemnation), that discourages men seeking in long-term, open or marital relationships with transwomen. And what else for a society with pro-creative mindset? “Can transwomen give birth to babies?” Obviously no. Even when you can expect every person having ovary to reproduce, how do you expect a person without ovary to make babies? But in Nepalese society, people still have an ideology that having biological children is a must. If you don’t have one, you will be made to feel “inferior”. Due to this sometimes even I get an inferiority complex. People make me feel humiliated for not having ability to be pregnant and often blame me this is my drawback. But I say no. I’ve always found it difficult to believe these kinds of men would treat cis women the same way if they were unable to birth children. A lot of straight-identified men, they have so deeply internalize the social ideas very rigidly about what it means to be a man — to be a straight man.
When you’re in a relationship, you want to share that love; you want to be like, ‘We’re happy.’ You want to tell everyone else, and that can be difficult. What ends up happening is the relationship is kept kind of secret, or just not spoken about. Many women have dealt with that at some point in their life, whether or not they’re trans. I identified as male before my transition, while I was trying to figure out who I was, and I dated other men, and I still had the same issue! When you have something good and you can’t share it, it sucks.
Trans women are taught to feel grateful for any scrap of affection we receive. Even many of these men think that they are doing a favor having relationship with us. Gosh!!! Most of the times, we are even told to be shameful for being a transwoman by these men. WTF! Why should be be shameful for being true selves, but you guys are not ashamed to have sex with us, then most of you also have wives and babies at your home. Shame on you!!! I hope wives of such men come to know that their husbands are buying transwomen in streets…
Another biggest issue is over-sexualization. We are often generalized as sex workers or prostitutes. People think that we are a sex freak wanting sex all the times. But wait, don’t heterosexual people and cisgender people also want sex? Yes they do. In fact every person does want sex, more or less. A large number of transgender woman are indulged in prostitution. They have their own reasons whether by free will or they are compelled to. But why is it necessary to generalize with every transwomen they see?
Being harassed on the street by strange men is something most women are used to dealing with on a near constant basis. Trans women are no exception. It seems just as bad when we “pass,” and can be even worse, and definitely different, when we “fail” to “pass.” These are my experiences.
Most of the times, I am hesitant to walk in the streets after the sky starts getting darker. Ratnapark or RNAC, is a place which a person who uses public vehicle living in Kathmandu can never ignore, and yes obviously a hub for transwomen sex workers. But, isn’t it a place for bus stops that thousand people pass by. But whenever a transwoman passes through the same street, why is it necessary for people to think that we are ‘sex workers’? many of transwomen report police bullies them while walking over there. Although i have never experienced any sort of police bullying, some where my heart starts to beat faster when I walk there after dawn. Usually I tend to avoid such places during dark, but until when? Meanwhile, there comes those sex seeker men who enjoy poking trans ass, who are also the major generalizes. And few many times, they’ve ended up asking me.
Whenever I stay with a transwoman group, even they feel inferiority complex about being transwoman, specifically in terms of love. Most of them are like “hyaa, hamilai kun chai kta le lanxa hola ta.”[Who is the man that is gonna take us making his bride?]. It clearly picturizes how pessimist transwomen are about true love. It clearly shows that despite there are so many men who are attracted to transwomen, who have sex with transwomen, we are seen inferior from biological women. We have lost trust in this. Slowly i think I am also loosing this.
What could be more unfortunate. Most of the times, those men who claim that they are atttracted to transwomen turn up to be the most transphobic people and turn up to give most transphobic comments when their demands are not fulfilled, probably demand of sex. And there are the “chasers”, particularly defined those men who are attracted to transwomen, but treat transwomen as highly sexualized beings and their attraction to transwomen highly fetishistic. They do not respect transwomen, and are very transphobic. They take transwomen in terms of sex only. Chaser culture is an integral part of the oppression of trans people. Men who treat their trans partners like a fetish or a dirty secret are propping up a system of violence that attacks trans women everyday. In fact, those men are the most common perpetrators of that violence. They are just trans-attracted at night. These men will take transwomen not much more than “sex”. When I have Facebook chat with those men who call themselves being attracted to transwomen, all they end up is asking for sex, although few of them are gentlemen. Most of these men, wish to play with our bodies. All a part of my experience, they just start to talk about sex as soon as I confess my gender identity. But I can’t let someone make me a toy.
For most of the cases I have observed, whatever a man might say in order to convince us, at the end they are going to marry a biological female someday.
I am a trans woman. I am not a dirty secret. I am not shameful. We are worthy of respect, desire, and love. As there are many kinds of women, there are many kinds of men, and many men desire many kinds of women, trans women are amongst these women. And let’s be clear: Trans women are women.
All these things depresses me too much and I have felt pessimism regarding love, these days. Living as a self -respecting transwoman, I feel it being inferior to beg for love…
I can never compromise with my self respect, even whether I have to stay single for my whole life.
For me, sex is not just about pleasure. It is about intimacy. It is about connection, trust that makes me feel wanted and loved. It is more than “having fun” to me. The feeling of being so close to a person, so connected. This is my own views regarding sex, not trying to endorse on others though. It is my personal thing which I don’t feel comfortable sharing with almost everyone.
However sometimes my parents ask me about my marriage. Since I have been accepted by them, it is easy to tell that I like men. But who can tell them, what sorts of condition we have to love. My mom and my female cousins are mostly enthusiastic, about my relationship with men. Maybe it is because they don’t know how do men and transwomen have sex and such things feel bizarre to them.
Personally, maybe because of my socio-cultural background of raising, I don’t enjoy complete individual life and need family as well as social life too. What I feel about marriage is that, yes I do want to get married to a guy. A guy who has qualities I prefer in my life partner and who is of course capable of dealing with society. Also have a dream to do a grand marriage in typical Newa culture. But again, the same barrier, how realistic is it to think men of Nepal would marry a transwomen openly.
And yes also about babies. Society thinks that not being pregnant cannot make you a mother. Who said that? Who said that a female who gives birth is obviously a mother? Who can gurantee that she will fulfill criterias of being a mom? And yes, not being pregnant is not a curse to me, neither a barrier to be a mom. Barrier is the law and the society. I love having children. In fact I have good prospect to adopt as many children I can. Hehe, many babies. I actually love babies and wish to adopt as many children as I can. That’s too unrealistic maybe, but yet a wish. At least I might try establishing an orphanage.
Sometimes when I see that in other countries many men are actually openly saying that they are attracted to transwomen and many men are openly getting married with transwomen, I feel joyful for a while. Also when hearing some few similar examples of such Nepalese couples a ray of hope arises. But again,…. It’s the same challenges.
It is rare for an openly trans woman – no matter how “passable” or attractive she is – to have a man who openly loves her, who has an unabashed desire to be seen with her, who proudly stands beside her — despite the stigma and other people’s curiosities and inappropriate questions. Those questions regarding our sexuality are constant and fraught with assumptions that this essay can’t begin to unpack, and for a man less secure it can be difficult navigating these questions, especially if you also perceive the women you’re attracted to as shameful, as less-than-human objects you must keep secret at all costs.
Being a transgender woman, a straight transgender woman; it is the most depressive and degrading feeling, when you realize that there are a lots and lots of men who are attracted to you, but among them very few men, just like once in a blue moon, exists who will love you. Most of them view you in a sexualized way. They objectify us and over-sexualize us. And even if they’re in a true relationship with you, they will not be able to be proudly accepting you in public. There is a disgusting culture of men who are attracted to transwomen.
I just want is for the world to be a kinder place. I think it’s possible, but maybe I’m just too naive.
A transwoman also has self-respect. I have my self-respect and self approval. I can never compromise with these things. Therefore I believe trans-women have unfortunately become