Rukshana Kapali/Pahichan – When we come to talk about men who are attracted to transgender women, we’re usually not informed about them. Although we have explained about people being heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, what exactly are those men who are attracted towards transwomen?
Before I talk about men who are attracted to transwomen, lets make clear what transwoman is. A trans woman (sometimes trans-woman
Sexuality and Identification
For those men who are attracted to transgender women, we have diversity here. First of all, lets think how do they identify, as straight, as gay or as bisexual! The men who are attracted to transwomen come from diverse sexual identities and feelings. There are many kinds of men who are attracted towards transgender women.
- Some of the men feel of being purely attracted to transwomen only. These men feel attracted equally to pre-operative and non-operative transwoman. They tend to identify as “trans-oriented men” or “Trans-attracted men”. They say they are purely attracted to non-operative transwomen and pre-operative transwomen, but not post operative transwomen, because post-operative transwomen are already females now, and the thing these men get attracted to is the femininity in a male body, not the female body.
- Some of the men feel strong attraction to transgender women whereas comparatively less attraction to biological females. These men identify themselves as “straight”.
- There are men who feel strong attraction to biological females whereas comparatively less attraction to transwomen. These men also identify themselves as “straight”.
- Some of them are equally attracted to both transwomen and biological female. They say they find no difference between a biological female and a transgender women. Most of these men also identify themselves as straight. But some of them can also identify as “gynesexual”. Gynesexual is a term that describes a person who is attracted towards “femininity” or “feminine behavior”.
- There are also men who feel attracted towards pre-operative transwomen, post-operative transwomen and biological females. They say that they’re not attracted towards non-operative transwomen, because when they undress, they’re just males, and they don’t find it attractive. These men also identify as “straight”.
- There are men who feel strong attraction to transwomen and faint attraction to boys as well; and also vice versa. There are men who like both boys and transgender women equally. They usually identify themselves as “gay”. Most of them call them “a different type of gay”. Gay men do not usually get attracted to transwomen because gay men means being attracted to “man”, and transwomen have something feminine, and they feel any feminization is incongruous to their tastes.
- There are men who are attracted to transgender women, females and men as well. They tend identifying “bisexual”.
This list has shown that there are men who are attracted to transwomen, but they come from various identification terms and sexualities. All men who are attracted to transwomen do not have same sexuality or same kind of attraction. More often straight men who are attracted to transwomen feel violated when they’re mistaken for being gay. There has been a term “gynandromorphophilia” used to describe the sexuality of men who are attracted to transwomen. Also the abbreviation MSTW is used for Men who have sex with Transgender Women.
The term “chasers” particularly define 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”.
Usually, men who want to be committed with a transgender woman find the term “chaser” as offensive to them. They have been explained more here
Celebrations or Days
A day named International Day for men who are attracted to Transwomen(IMDT)has been proposed for April 5. This day has been established to provide an awareness for men who have a sexual and emotional orientation towards transwomen. It also aims to humanize trans-attracted men in the public eye and to help family members and friends of trans-attracted men to get a better understanding of what it means to be “trans-attracted “. A large part of the reason why trans-attracted men are misunderstood is because transwomen are generally misunderstood, so we have to provide better understanding about transwomen as well. The mission of the day is to establish equal recognization, visibility, discrimination free society, and bias-less-ness towards men who are attracted to transwomen. We can find its Facebook page here and a Facebook event here.
Situation in society
We, as a society, have not created a space for men to openly express their desire to be with trans women. Instead, we shame men who have this desire, from the boyfriends, cheaters and “chasers” to the “trade,” clients, and pornography admirers. We tell 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, we’re telling trans women that they are only deserving of secret interactions with men, further demeaning and stigmatizing trans women. I’ve stood witness to many so-called scandals, mostly published on gossip blogs, where passing interactions with trans women spawn hundreds of headlines, particularly for a man with fame and social capital. Thousands of words have been dedicated to analyzing whether such and such famous man is now suspect, merely because he took a photo with a fan who happened to be a trans woman. This questioning has led many well-known men to adamantly defend their heterosexuality and has tarnished the reputation and careers of others. It sounds like silliness on the surface, but often times when gossip blogs are the public’s only exposure to trans women, it spreads misinformation, validates stereotypes and causes irreparable damage.
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. He must do this to maintain his standing in our patriarchal society. For a man to be associated with a trans women, in effect, is to say that he is no longer a “real” man (as if such a thing exists) because he sleeps with “fake” women (as if such a thing exists)
However, the situation with these men is very different, not only are such relationships devoid of social pressure to encourage them, there is a strong social pressure (or at least a fear of social condemnation), that discourages men seeking such relationships. Add to this the fact that most men have little knowledge of transwomen and almost no exposure to successful relationships, in real life or in the media. Society is hard on the men who date transgender individuals. There is a lot of stigma attached to it.
The heteronormative world 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.
In addition to the usual challenges in finding love and a partner, there are also more specific barriers that complicate the pursuit of love in the transgender community.
- Small numbers and distance: Since the transgender community is much smaller in numbers than the straight community, or even gay and lesbian communities, it’s often hard to find transgender women locally. You can find many lovely transgender women online, but they might be quite far from where you live. Transgender women are easier to find in a limited number of countries, mostly Southeast Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam) and South America (Brazil). In addition to the distance, even if you would like to make contact with a transgender woman in another country, you would have to take into account language barriers and cultural differences.
- Trans-oriented men’s willingness to come out and commit to a relationship: As a trans-oriented man, you probably have a strong desire for transgender women, but you will have to decide if you’re willing to come out, live your life as you want to and commit to a relationship with a transgender woman. Of course, I totally support it. If you ask transgender women’s point of view, they will probably say that unwillingness to engage in a relationship openly on the man’s part is the number one barrier to a relationship and love.
- Limited financial capabilities: Transgender women are likely to have a lower income compared to most trans-oriented men due to unequal employment opportunities. One has to admire their effort and achievements in the face of the injustice they face every day. Don’t judge them. Everyone deserves a chance in life. If you meet a loving transgender woman who lacked education or employment opportunities and so is on a low income, consider helping and supporting her. An altruistic approach of helping your loved one and seeing progress and results will reward you with fulfilling feelings.
- Immigration and employment laws (in case you or your loved one would need to migrate for the two of you to live together): Unfortunately, the transgender community only enjoys equal rights in a small number of countries, and finally the US is one of them. However, for example, if you yourself would need to migrate to another country to be with your loved one, you will have to consider expat immigration and employment laws. The same applies in case your loved one chooses to migrate to live with you. Still, as much as this is an issue, I would say it’s minor one once you have found your loved one.
- Society’s expectations and possibly having to choose between your “old” and “new” way of living: It might be that in order for you to be with your loved transgender woman, you might have to move to another city or even another country. You might have to come out as a trans-oriented man. Your partner might live far from you, and in addition, your current community might not fully accept transgender rights, or allowing your partner to migrate so as to live with you. Your local community might expect you to hide your sexuality, and even your family and friends might not support it.
Being open in society
Many men have now started to show that their attraction towards transwomen is not and should never be a matter of shame. Online communities are growing about showing Trans-attraction Pride. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of guys out here that do this. But there has been initiation of a Trans Attracted Men Movement in America. We try awfully hard to bend ourselves around language, but even the people who feel best represented with words like “straight” don’t fit all the criteria. One of the central issues to identity politics, and the LGBT string of labels, is the idea that people whose sexuality or gender differ from a heteronormative standard are inherently different, where those whose gender or sexuality conform to it are not. Rather than trying to normalize queer people, we could recognize that no one is normal. Straight, cisgender people are different too. Actually a lot of men have found true relationship with transgender women and have dared challenging the society. A mass number of men have started actually to talk about their attraction towards transgender woman.
It is unfortunate that “outing” of trans-oriented men is the kind of news that sells. The funny thing is that there’s really nothing special about anyone dating a transgender woman. But here’s the catch: The general public has been aware of transgender women for a long time, and most people accept them, but they haven’t been exposed to trans-oriented men. This is thus something the media can take advantage of, by publishing so-called news of “unusual” or even “shameful” events considering people that we think we know.