I totally understand the differences—however, I do believe that the sort of rhetoric is, if not the same, at least similar. Which may, on a broader level, be responsible for the instinctive recoiling?
I mean, if that’s the sort of rhetoric that’s getting used to convince cis lesbians (and I very specifically use lesbians, because I am one, and consequently cannot speak for queer women—and queer seems to be a much broader category anyways!) to see trans* women as viable partners, it’s not surprising that there’s this sort of backlash? I mean, it does sound very similar (at least to me), and that’s unfortunately the sort of rhetoric cis lesbians have had to deal with from het guys for a long time.
To address your other point: What then of pre- or non- op trans women? I mean, it’s their absolute right to do whatever they need to do to feel comfortable in their bodies. However, say someone has no attraction to phalluses whatsoever, and no desire to test that boundary. What then? Is it transphobic of them to avoid sexual relationships with trans* women?
As a thought experiment, that might actually explain a lot. Like, okay: it’s very hard to guess what’s in someone’s pants—it may be a phallus, it may be a vagina. Say someone doesn’t want ANY contact with a phallus, regardless of the gender of its owner. So: wanting to avoid the awkwardness of initiating sexual contact only to find out that they can’t follow through (and maybe get called transphobic/hateful), maybe said individual chooses not to engage in the first place?
That might explain the hesitance— but it’s also a very valid concern, because the individual would be caught in a seriously untenable situation. Leave, get called nasty names and have their motive misconstrued— or stay, and do something they’re not comfortable with.
I’d love to hear your opinions!
“However, say someone has no attraction to phalluses whatsoever, and no desire to test that boundary. What then? Is it transphobic of them to avoid sexual relationships with trans* women?”
It would be transphobic of them to avoid sexual relationships with trans* women who don’t have phalluses, but perhaps not with those who do.
The difference lies between declaring “I don’t want sexual relationships with trans* women” and “I don’t want sexual relationships that would involve a phallus”.
(and even that is questionable; how would you classify a ‘phallus’? Would you date a cis woman with an unnaturally large clit? or a castrated cis man? To some extent, our ideas of gendered body parts are social constructs.)
Fewer people would have problems with the latter; it’s the former that usually causes the most problems, because apart from assuming that all trans* women have phalluses, you’re also assuming that they’re into the kind of sexual acts that would involve them, which can be especially hurtful for trans* women who are extremely dysphoric about their genitalia and prefer sexual acts that don’t involve penetration or even them being completely naked.
There’s also the huge amount of negative connotations involved in blanketly declaring a refusal to date trans* women as opposed to specifically people-with-phalluses, because there’s little difference between that and genuinely-transphobic sentiment.
“So: wanting to avoid the awkwardness of initiating sexual contact only to find out that they can’t follow through (and maybe get called transphobic/hateful), maybe said individual chooses not to engage in the first place?”
From what I know, the vast majority of trans* people usually disclose things like the state of their genitals prior to initiating any sexual contact, or if things look like they might lead to sex. Which can be problematic in its way (because it places an added obligation on trans people to be upfront about bodies in a way that cis people are not, and can often lead to rejection). So I doubt this hypothetical is common. If someone is truly concerned about their sexual partner not having a phallus, then… just ask, in much the same way that you might be unwilling to date people who might be of a particular religion or political leaning.
Not to mention that: “maybe said individual chooses not to engage in the first place” -> if most cis people thought and behaved in such a way, there would be barely anyone who would ‘risk’ being open to trans* people; where all the cis people go off to have sexy funtiems and leave the trans* people to be forever alone (potentially also isolated from each other, because cis people far outnumber trans* people) until a pansexual wanders by. And that makes me sad.
out of curiosity - have you actually been in a situation where you were interested in a woman only to turn her down upon discovering that she was trans?
and since I thought this was interesting in further illustrating the variety of ways in which sexual attraction manifests for people, I’m leaving this quote from a faab genderqueer friend, currently dating a trans woman: “i have realized: i am interested in people who like their vaginas or want to have them, regardless of their actual gender identity or physical configuration. … i am attracted to mind vaginas. i can be with trans guys who like their vaginas. and i can be with trans girls who are pre-op but want vaginas, and who can only rly get off by considering their penis a clit. but with a trans guy who is all about having a penis and nothing else, or a trans girl who likes her penis, i can’t do that”