Am I a Transphobic Person?
“am I transphobic for not being willing to date pre or post op trans women? i’m a lesbian and I don’t really like dick and after looking at a bunch of surgery results feel like neovaginas aren’t attractive because they don’t really look like biological vaginas. an I had person [sic] ? I feel bad”
This gave me an excellent opportunity to go through some the arguments some cisgender women use to invalidate transgender women.
Here is my reply:
Yes, you are transphobic. Let me explain why:
No one is forcing you to love anyone
1. Not wanting to date a specific woman does not make you bad. Love and sexual attraction are anchored in deep psychological forces which we can hardly control. Whether a woman is cisgender or transgender makes no difference in this respect. No one can force you to love a person.
2. Many people have “types” they fall for: Sporty or intellectual, outgoing or shy, curvaceous or athletic, dark haired or blonde… There is nothing wrong in that either. There is no transgender type, however. Trans women are as diverse as cis women.
3. If you walk down the street, you are in a club or at work and you see an attractive woman that fits your type, the chances are that you will be drawn to her, regardless of whether she is cis or trans. Given that you cannot see what she has between her legs, that attraction is clearly not determined by genitalia.
A disturbing focus on what’s between women’s legs
4. Because of this I must admit I find your obsession with trans women’s sex organs more than a little disturbing. The fact that you have searched the internet for photos of neovaginas is a bit creepy. It is as if you are deliberately looking for an excuse to invalidate trans women based on the shape of their vulva.
5. Vulvas come in a wide variety of shapes. Researchers have actually classified some six to eight different types. I know that the porn industry has caused some anxiety in this respect. Some cis women are now undergoing surgery to have their vulvas look more like the arbitrary norm, but to be honest with you: This is not something I like or condone. To judge a woman by the shape of her genitals sounds sexist and misogynistic to me.
6. The shape of trans women’s vulvas will vary, as well. Unless there is much scarring, I doubt very much you would be able to see the difference between a transgender woman’s vulva and the one of a cis woman. Not that it matters.
7. As for not liking the penises of pre-op transgender women: By all means, if you do not want to sleep with a woman with a penis, don’t do so! No one is forcing you. Keep in mind, though, that as far as transgender women who are undergoing hormone replacement therapy go, this penis is nothing like a male penis. These women are, for instance, unlikely to have an erection.
8. Furthermore, the presence of a phallic object does not in itself invalidate the womanhood of a trans woman. There are, as you perfectly well know, a lot of lesbian women who are fascinated by such objects too, to the point of packing or using strap-ons. I understand that this is not your thing, and that is OK, but we cannot use your preferences to generalize about what lesbian women want.
9. Just to be clear: I know of many lesbian and bisexual women who date or are partners of transgender women.
Benefit of the doubt
I am always trying to give people who ask me question the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people are asking me offensive questions because they genuinely try to understand and help. So I will, for your benefit, disregard the distinct possibility that you are a “gender critical” TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist).
Still, you have sent your question to a transgender blog, and you must have understood that this kind of invalidation of transgender women will be hurtful. In other words: You are not only negating trans women in general, it seems like you are deliberately trying to get your views seen by trans women on a site addressing transgender people and trans issues. Well, you succeeded!
You might wonder why I have given you this space, though, given that your comments are both transphobic and hurtful. The reason is that you have given me an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the many arguments transphobes bring up in order to exclude transgender women.
Given that I have given you the benefit of the doubt, and you say that you feel bad about what you have written here, my response may possible also help you rethink your position. Who knows, the next time you meet lesbian women who say similar things, you can be the one to correct them. We can always hope.
(And in case you wondered: The woman at the top is a transgender woman. I have no idea whether she has had “bottom surgery” or not or how her vulva looks, and I do not care. Nor should you! Photo: Aaron Amat).
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