I’m motivated to write this because of an exchange on Quora last week, which I think is worth developing. The original question, essentially, asked how a man could avoid ‘accidentally’ dating a trans woman, because he ‘didn’t want that sort of woman’. That is both shockingly transphobic and misogynistic and here’s why.
There is a legitimate reason why one might not wish to date any person: lack of attraction or interest. We all respond to our inbuilt attractions and we don’t generally want to pursue, romantically, people who fall outside those. This is maybe a form of objectification, but everyone does it. It’s hardwired into us.
But that was not the point of the question, which was how one could avoid dating a transwoman if one were attracted to her. That’s a whole other can of worms. It’s about a man who finds a particular person attractive and interesting enough to want to ask out on a date, but is afraid to do so in case she has — or used to have — non-standard genitalia.
That there is pure transphobia, open and shut. The questioner doesn’t even want to buy someone a drink on the very slim statistical possibility that that person might be trans.
This mindset believes that men have a right to expect sex as a return for buying dinner, effectively, and would consider the discovery of a hitherto concealed penis (past or present) to be a default of this ‘bargain’. But that reduces women to sex objects that can be bought with a couple of meals (or maybe a cinema ticket or two, depending on how cheap we are talking) so it is intrinsically misogynistic AS WELL as transphobic.
Then it gets worse; having paid a woman sufficient attention for her to consent to have sex with him, the man presumes a right to expect her genitalia to be of a certain order. This is what leads to the increasing numbers of purely cosmetic labial removal surgeries, amongst other absurdities, and, in some benighted cultures, far worse.
But like it or not, men do not have this right. Women are not measured by their genitalia. Furthermore, being nice to a woman does not imply a sexual bargain of any kind whatsoever. No amount of movies or dinners can guarantee access to her genitalia, whatever they look like. This is coercive, and reduces women to walking genitalia to be bought by men. It is an underlying cause of rape: men are conditioned to think that women, in whom they have invested time and money, who then refuse sex are welching on the deal. Once again, transphobic and misogynistic.
Furthermore, this mindset can be lethal to transwomen. I have just spent a week trying to support a friend who was agonising about whether she should tell a man who had been expressing serious hots for her, that she was trans. Of course I advised her to, but I hated myself for doing it, or rather having to. I had no choice because the transphobia inherent in the question can be deadly to transwomen.
My friend was under no moral or ethical obligation to tell the man details about her genitalia. But in order to prevent her getting into a situation in which she might get killed, I had to say that she should inform this man about something that he had no right to know, at least at this stage. Because of transphobia, her genitalia suddenly became the only thing that mattered.
So what if she’s gorgeous, smart, funny, talented, great company, affectionate, loyal and charming? Doesn’t conform to a rigid patriarchal expectation of women, so none of that matters and she had to cry herself to sleep over yet another guy who suddenly lost interest. Telling her that he’s a fool who doesn’t know what he lost out on seems small comfort.
The trouble is, in reducing this lovely woman to the contents of her pants, transphobia does the SAME THING to every other woman. They are also reduced to genitalia, and not just the genitalia they have now, the organs they were born with. Birth genitalia, in this world view, is all that counts. Therefore that’s all a woman is — genitals on legs. How staggeringly presumptuous and demeaning can it get?
If you don’t believe how dangerous the misogynistic, transphobic suggestion that men have a right to expect women’s genitalia to be a certain shape is, please Google ‘Jennifer Laude‘ or ‘Gwen Araujo’. Why would anyone suffer like that? Because of transphobia, that’s why.
These, and countless thousands of others like them, were murdered by their lovers because of their patriarchally-conditioned expectations. And that is about as sick as it gets. Seduce a person, achieve your desired end and then kill her because her genitalia don’t look like what your buddies say they should.
Not only is all this transphobic and misogynistic, it is profoundly cowardly because it is all about one thing: fear of penises — and even in the past tense. Big tough manly men indeed, so afraid of a few ounces of human flesh that they will bludgeon a woman to death after having sex with her. It is utterly despicable.
So, the only legitimate reason for not dating any woman is that you’re not attracted to her. That’s fair enough. We all have triggers. We should try to be open and fair, and to look beneath the surface, but attraction is instinctive.
However, to be afraid of liking and falling in love with a woman, on the grounds that her genitalia might not live up to your expectations, is as deeply transphobic, misogynistic and cowardly as I can think of.