“That moment is indicative to a lot of the street harassment that I have had to endure, and that street harassment started, first because these men found me attractive, because I’m a woman. And then they realized that I was trans and it became something else.” – Laverne Cox
Whenever transgender women are discussed in cisgender male circles, the topic always seems to focus on sex. The message being conveyed is that transgender women engage in a form of trickery to coerce unassuming cishet men into sleeping with us. But if you look deeper, you will find that the facts do not line up. In reality, it is not trans women who are looking to trick or even have sex with men, but men themselves, and their insecurities for being attracted to us.
I am a transgender woman who is often awarded the advantage of being cis-passing and also being conventionally pretty. I am the type of transgender woman, cishet men use as the poster child for trans women who “trick” them. When I am out in public, I catch the attention of men more than I actually care for — and I never disclose. It is not up to me to disclose when I am the one being approached, when my personal space is the one that is being encroached upon.
Despite what cisgender societal expectations may be, trans women are not obligated to wear their trans status like a scarlet letter for a man’s own sexual comfort. And despite what men may think, women — whether cis or trans — do not exist to make them comfortable. Often, it is not even safe to disclose in these situations anyway.
Islan Nettles and Amanda Milan are only two examples of trans women who were murdered when men became aware that they were trans. Islan was hanging out with friends, Amanda was walking away from a group of friends to get into a taxi, neither of these women had any intention of talking to the men who took their lives — and their murders serve as the cold reality that disclosure does not offer trans women safety.
Perhaps the biggest misconception to clear up is the idea that trans women are hypersexual sirens desperately seeking the attention of the male gaze. This of course, needs to be disparaged. The majority of trans women are not even sexually attracted to men. According to a report published by Transequality, only 23% of trans women identify as strictly heterosexual. Lining up the facts, you get a clear image that cishet men are more into us than we are actually into them.
According to the porn site, RedTube, cishet men are 455% more likely to search for transgender porn than women, and the United States is one of the top 12 countries that search for trans-related porn. Trans women are fetishized in the porn industry, and men who seek us out whether for sexual or romantic reasons often do so behind closed doors, including celebrities such as Tyga’s relationship with trans model, Mia Isabella or the backlash against Bobby Valentino who refused to pay his sex worker.
When it is all said and done, perhaps the real question society should be asking themselves, is why conversations about trans women are always one-sided? If the allegation is that trans women are tricking these men into sleeping with them, then who’s trick was it to believe what a man has to say about make-believe sex he never had in the first place?
What leads a person to believe anything a cishet man says without having a transparent discussion with the trans women he is vilifying? All of this is rooted in transmisogyny. But really cishet dudes, I’m sure I can speak for many trans women when I say, we are just not that into you.