Published: November 30, 2011
I'm 26, straight and male. I consider myself a socially progressive person, have been a vocal supporter of LGBT issues since high school, and was president of my college Gay-Straight Alliance. Here's my issue: I fully support the trans community. I have numerous friends in varying states of transition and I'm 100 percent behind them. But in my own dating life, I wouldn't feel comfortable dating or having sex with a woman who had at one point in her life been a man. I realize I wouldn't be fucking a dude, but it's a mental hurdle I can't clear. All my LGBTQA friends — be they trans, gay, bi — call me a transphobe, because if I were truly on their side, if I truly "understood," then sex with a MTF straight woman would be no different than sex with a cisgender straight woman. Do I have the right to not feel comfortable with the idea (or reality) of having sex with these women and still consider myself a supporter of the trans community? Are my friends being unreasonable by judging me against their schema of appropriate sexuality? Or am I a hypocrite? —Fears Real Activism Undermined [by] Dick
"He's not transphobic — not in my book," says Kate Bornstein, author, performer, "advocate for teens, freaks and other outlaws" and herself a trans woman. "One more thing he's not is straight. Sex-positive, supportive of trans folk and heterosexual? Cool! He's a queer heterosexual — and some of my best friends are queer heterosexuals."
As for your specific issue — you're not attracted to trans women — Bornstein says that by itself isn't evidence of transphobia.
"A queer heterosexual is just as entitled to the fulfillment of their sex and gender desires as anyone else," says Bornstein. "Sometimes those desires depend on the nature of their lover's body. Well, trans people have bodies that are different than cis people's bodies. We're two (or more) mints in one — a physical blend that attracts a lot of people. FRAUD just doesn't happen to be one of them. The fact that he's sensitive to that blending of genders in our bodies does not make him transphobic."
What can you do about it?
"Go have good sex with cis women," says Bornstein. (Don't know what "cis" means in this context? See: tinyurl.com/cisdefine.)
Whatever else you do, FRAUD, Bornstein wants you to stop identifying as straight.
"He's part of our queer tribe," she says. "And who knows? One day, he might meet the right trans person."
And who knows? One day, your cranky LGBTQA friends might accept who you are just as you've accepted them. Make an effort to use "attracted to cis women" in place of "wouldn't feel comfortable dating" trans women, and you'll hasten that day's arrival.
Kate Bornstein's new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger (Beacon Press), will be published in the spring. Follow her on Twitter @katebornstein. (Follow me @fakedansavage.)
I'm a 26-year-old guy in a polyamorous relationship. As this is my first kick at the poly can, I wasn't dying to tell my family, "Hey, I'm dating a married woman!" However, through the magic of Facebook, my brother found out that the girl I'm seeing has a husband. Once I was "busted," I discussed the situation with my sister-in-law. The issue is that my GF and her husband have a 10-year-old son. This isn't an issue for me, but my brother has compared the poly community to drug addicts and stated that CPS should remove my girlfriend's child from her home, etc. My brother and his wife are now threatening to cut me out of their lives — as well as their children's lives, whom I care for a great deal — if I don't dump the girlfriend. Thoughts? —Forced To Pick
Right off the top of my head: Your brother is a shit-smeared asshole, your sister-in-law is an ass-smeared shithole, and they'd be doing you a huge favor if they cut you out of their lives.
Pick the GF, FTP. That might mean you won't see your nieces or nephews for a while, which would be sad for you and bad for those kids (children with crazy, controlling parents need to spend quality time with saner family members). But if you dump your girlfriend at their insistence — if you fail to stand up to them — you will have established a dangerous precedent: Your love life isn't yours to manage, it's theirs, and all your future partners will be subject to their batshittery and scrutiny and, if they disapprove of any future girlfriends (concurrent or subsequent), they will attempt to exercise the veto power you ceded to them during this conflict.
Your brother and sister-in-law are bullies, FTP, and you've got to defend yourself. So long as your GF and her husband aren't doing anything inappropriate in front of their son and they're not placing unfair burdens on their son (they don't expect him to keep secrets, if they're not out about being poly; they don't expect him to be out about his parents being poly, if they are out and he's not comfortable sharing that info with his friends), you need to come to their defense too. And you might want to consult a lawyer now, just in case your brother and sister-in-law call CPS.
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