Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sex and Love, key to TG and TG-community growth or stagnation

Well I'm back from Sydney.
I travelled to be with my boy/girl (FtM Crossdresser) for their birthday.

The circumstances of one of their friends helped put into focus for me something key to the transgender community.. and often quite taboo. One i've mentioned before but which seems even clearer and more crucial to me now.

It was yet another crossdresser attempting to hang up their heels and quit. They felt their crossdressing need stems from a lack of a girlfriend and would dissapear with a woman in their life. I won't discount the possibility, though it was what i once thught too till i learned from direct experience that i was wrong, and there's been many other crossdressers who thought so too only to then be in the complicated situation of being in a comitted relationship when the need to crossdress returns with all the struggle and stress that comes of telling or hiding or repressing and the partners feellings on the matter etc.

Now this person had been coming out more and more with the support and encouragement of, and with feellings for, my current boy/girlfriend. It's not the first time for hir as being openly TG-attracted for some time. Hir ex-fiance went forward with transition because of the accepting relationship.

Many closteted crossdressers and transsexuals yet to transition have been in that state because of loneliness and the fear of forever remaining in that state. Many other CDs are closeted because of the concerns and feellings and comfort-zones of cis partners. For many an accepting partner is the path to being out and self realisation. Of course for some internalised issues may be strong or stronger nevertheless, but for many it robs them of a terror that holds them back, holds them down. In mainstream society few doubt the need for sex and romance...

Loneliness, the desire for companionship, for romance, for sex, reproduction... why these are recognised as primary drives in life in most communities.. but not ours. No the terror of the labels Fetishist, Gay and the fear of offending, confirming the fears of or scaring off the existing cis hetero wives and girlfriends of MtF CDs rules. To the point of many parts of the community excluding and villifying others.

Now sure some people who are attracted to TG people are badly behaved.. like thats a new thing to women, and to men too. But there are many transgender-attracted people who are quite decent people... and most that I've met are totally closeted about their desires. And most are assuming i mean cis men, but in fact i've met quite a few trans-attracted cis women, most in relationships with cis men. I've even been propositioned by some cis women in my own rural town to join them and their partners for threesomes and in the offline world i've met far more trans-attracted cis women than cis men.

There's also the concerns over sexual images of transgender people, often requiring us to ignore the entire role of appearance in sexual attraction, the reality of sexual imagery of cis women and cis men pervadinng nearly every magazine newspaper film tv show. And often these complaints are about the very existence of non-binary transgender people and objections to them being considered sexually attractive. Now arguments about what kind of sexual images are exploitative and of imagist bias is seperate and reasonable topics, but to say all are is to deny the possibility of erotic art or any beauty in any transgender nudity.

The trans-attracted are labelled 'chasers' and often excluded with much hostility. Flirting and the like often strictly forbidden despite occuring in most hetero cis spaces. And while an argument can be made that it's needed to have some spaces for TG people to discuss issues without having to consider trans-attracted people or interact with them it's often the case amongst CD support groups and sites that such privacy is centred on allowing cis wives such privacy from their CD husbands and the rest of the world but the reverse is less often true.

What we have is a situation where huge numbers of people remain closeted or suffer by delaying transition out of fear of never finding a partner. Where many stay in abusive relationships out of fear of blackmail, loss of custody or of never finding another partner. Where the concerns of cis partners don't just effect the compromises within relationships but also drive the policies of support groups and organisations resulting in the exclusion and marginalisation of some of those already suffering too much. And where those attracted to transgender people are also closetted often, both cis men and cis women, only able to bring themselves to seek the sex but too frightened of judgement to date openly and often staying in the comforts of cis relationships.

Addressing the reality of this is vital, of the need for transgender people to be like everyone else, able to flirt, able to seek sex and/or romance, to seek a compatible partner. The need for incorporating the trans-attracted into our efforts to liberate our diverse community from oppression and to help them overcome the stigma of their desires.

And taking the controling reigns of large chunks of the community from the hands or fears of cis people with cis concerns is equally vital! Sure easing family members through transphobia is important. Sure relationships need compromise and communication. Sure Cis people can be valuable members of the community and the most accepting of Cis people being free of the internalised transphobia that hamstrings us and with little (usually...) transphobia of their own have often been courageous and supportive in helping members of our community to step out into the light.

But all the pandering to cis concerns has gone way too far. It's holding the community back and it's causing harm to many within it. We must address these issues solidly and squarely.

Until we do only a tiny minority of TG people will be out, plenty will slink back into the closet when relationships fail or be overcome with despair that they will never find love.


timberwraith said...

Another really great article, BBB!

I often wonder what it's like to be CD or transitioning while partnered with a cis person, as I did not date until after I finished transitioning.

When I do encounter a trans person in this kind of situation, there sometimes seems to be a hidden mound of guilt and self-abnegation going on. I makes me really angry when I sense this. I secretly want to shake the person and say, "Look, this guilt and self-denial isn't your responsibility to bear. It's not your fault that the world is guided by prejudice and extremely narrow views of gender!"

Battybattybats said...

Thanks Timberwraith :)
There are lots of complexities in trans/cis relationships.

There are issues about when into a relationship a CD can or should come out to prospective partner. Many simply don't reach enough self acceptance to admit to themselves let alone a partner they are a CD until well into a relationship. Many fear blackmail or being outed if they come out too soon (and it has happened to a fair few) while others do so out of a desire to spare their partners feellings sure they can quit or keep it hidden forever.

And plenty of partners feel betrayed when by accident or decision they do come out. Often arguing that their partner should have been open from the start without regard to the social pressures and internalised oppression that leads to the closet.

Overcoming any bias or socially indoctrinated bigotry can be difficult, for a cis partner to overcome transphobia upon the discovery that their partner is trans is clearly difficult. We need to be compassionate about that difficulty and respect the rights of cis partners... while not ceding the rights of trans people to their transphobia either.

Though many argue they shouldn't have to overcome their transphobia.. and those who do try often claim a lot of entitlement for staying with their partner and putting up with or tolerating or accepting the CDing. CDs are often expected to be extremely grateful for any amount of tolerance, for being allowed to any extent to express their gender variance. It is a common view that a cis partner's permission should be sought for any even temporary body modification like shaving for example or when, how often and to what extent crossdressing is done or to who it is discussed or admited or shown.

There are heaps of cisnormative assumptions, control issues, skewed power dynamics, internalised transphobia, accusations of selfishness for gender-expression based attraction on one side and for any importance whatsoever on CDing or for any need for cross-gender expression purchases and spending or wanting to be out on the other in many and maybe most of these relationships.

And even when the cis person is trans-attracted and accepting there can be conflicts and issues because of the internalised transphobia of the CD with cis partners struggling because of the lack of self-acceptance and related issues in the trans partner which they often cannot comprehend especially when they are so supportive and encouraging.

And discussing transphobia within cis/CD relationships, internalised transphobia, cisnormative views, repression, unconscious bias/bigotry, individual rights within relationships and the rest of the crucial parts of this web is absolutely vital for the community and society.. but often results in a lot of hostility.. not just from cis partners but often their trans partners and other trans people who defend both the partner but also the cisnormative system and viewpoint.

But growth comes from uncomfortable questions and challenging assumptions. And the focus on cis het partners of CDs and their concerns needs to be reigned in to acknowledge the rights of trans partners, the transphobia that effects both especially the choices of closeted/repressed trans people and the effects on GLB trans people and single trans people and those who go on to transition.