How I became "Gender Critical"
How I became a Trans Rights Activist — then turned “Gender Critical” parts 1 to 4
How I became a Trans Rights Activist — then turned “Gender Critical”. Part 1
Growing Up Gay
As a child growing up in the eighties, I first realised I was “a bit different” at about the age of ten, when I had my first crush on a boy. It was the late eighties and the AIDS epidemic was in full swing. I was aware of “homosexuals” and “gay men” but I’d never thought to apply that to myself. What I saw did not correlate to the mental image of myself.
At secondary school as puberty hit I realised I was attracted to boys, and only boys. By age 14 I had managed to fall in love with a friend (never advisable) and one day when I came home from a school trip to Germany I missed him so much that I had to explain to my parents. I told them I liked boys.
This was 1992, my mother cried because she thought I’d catch AIDS, and my dad took it upon himself to go and speak with our family doctor — a Christian — about this “situation”, without talking to me obviously. So I got a book. A book telling me that it was OK if I liked boys and it was just a phase. Every boy goes through this phase and I just needed to redirect my feelings towards the “correct” sex. I was also asked directly if I felt “I should be a woman”, which was frankly insulting.
I tried that for about a week, but my sexuality wasn’t having it. I knew it was a ridiculous idea and that the book was wrong. I rejected this nonsense and didn’t bother talking to my parents about it for another three years. It was painful however. I realised that if I was going to live as myself and have a partner I was compatible with and could truly love, I would have to give up my childish dreams of getting married and having children. The pain of that was intense for a teenager, but I knew that there was no way I could pretend I was straight in order to live a “normal” life. That just wasn’t for me. So be it. I managed to eventually get over my intense feelings for my friend, but never “came out” to school friends. It wasn’t necessary. When I went to university in 1996 I knew I was gay and I knew that there, I wouldn’t be the only one.
School wasn’t without it’s problems. Despite being relatively normal and unremarkable I was still different. Once, the school bullies got wind I might be a “queer”, and that lead to my being abused and beaten in the school changing room aged 16. I didn’t say anything about it, but it did make me somewhat wary around men for a long time.
Allegiance To The Flag
I joined the LGB group. Lesbian Gay and Bisexual — a term for people like me, who had sexual orientations that were not solely aimed at the opposite sex. At first I felt happy and relieved, and came out to friends at University who were mostly accepting, but I noticed something quite strange. The LGB group weren’t really interested in me. I heard the term “straight acting” for the first time, and my straight friends too would say things like “I don’t like most gays but you’re normal so its OK”. I didn’t take offence, I knew what they meant, but this introduced me to how there are “expectations” on how a person with a label “ought” to act.
I did become aware of the rainbow flag and Stonewall at this point. Stonewall stood for acceptance, not of ourselves and orientation but the right to live as we chose and have whoever we wanted as partners, without judgement or second class citizen status. I also knew about “Outrage” and their militant tendencies to fight fire with fire. I rejected that as self-defeating, and saw the rainbow flag as standing for me. I adopted Stonewall as “my group” and worked on gay rights such as the age of consent and inclusion in the military.
However, I drifted away from the LGB “scene”. I was gay but the LGB group seemed to be a clique I wasn’t interested in. Instead I took part in other uni clubs — IT and wargaming, proper nerdy male stereotype interests, but I loved it. There I met some great people and some very odd ones. The most annoying thing there was when I came out to them, I would be greeted with “oh I’m a bit bisexual myself” by people who’d never shown an interest in the same sex once. Both clubs seemed to attract some very socially awkward people, but with our shared interests it mostly didn’t matter. People could be themselves, different, and not judged.
After university I went straight into a tech career. Male dominated, slightly nerdy once again. I joined the LGB group which became LGBT at some point. I saw this as progressive. Adding people who like me, struggled to fit in because of something different about who they were. I also thought it was useful, because the confusion between transsexuals and homosexuals simply because they had the word “sexual” in them. I knew the difference and the one trans person we had in the group was very clearly trying to change her sex from male to female. We both knew this was impossible, but the way she described her body as “alien” and how it made her feel was awful to hear. She had my sympathy and support in trying to change herself to escape the feeling in her head.
Nothing much happened at work. As I grew older and grew up. Except for yet another problem falling in love with a friend, I dated guys, I used apps, and had enough experiences with men to learn what I liked and what I didn’t. In 2009 I was ready to have a “proper” relationship and found my soulmate. Not by falling in love but by meeting someone with the right compatibility of values, views and attraction. It was almost an “arranged” partnership with a deficit of romance but having no experience with the straight way of doing things this just felt logical and right.
LGBT Pride Activist
2018 was a watershed year. I wanted to “give back” to the community and organisations that had supported me when I came out. I had decided to learn more about the “T” if I was going to be a proper LGBT rights advocate. I volunteered for a role as LGBT coordinator for my local office and made it my business to learn about the entire LGBTQ spectrum. I asked and once again Stonewall provided me with the information I needed. I learnt about gender identity and how scientific research had concluded that we all have an innate sense of our own “gender”, and that this may or may not correspond to the sex we were assigned at birth.
This gender identity explained so much for me. First, it explained why I wasn’t “gay enough” for the LGB group at university. Clearly my gender identiry was on the “man end” of this new spectrum, and it also explained the crippling suffering of my transsexual — now “transgender” friend. In addition some of those socially awkward types at university weren’t socially awkward at all, but non binary. Now it all made sense.
Then I was warned of the increasing hatred of the Trans community. Stonewall published articles of transphobic attacks, the suffering of trans people and how even celebrities were showing their true hatred of people who were born different. This incited a righteous rage in me. The flag had called and I would answer.
One day in 2019 I noticed a thread on social media that a work colleague had started. It said only women born female can be women. An argument on Facebook ensued with my “side” and her “side” arguing over this point, as I tried to make her see that trans women are women, just as much as she was, and that they were the victims because they couldn’t help being born male. I was incensed at her bigotry. So after several days stewing over this I contacted my LGBT group, and our HR department.
I showed them the social media posts and asked “is this hate?”. I was aware of the hate that was covered up with concern — Stonewall had told me to beware of such a line of attack, and the trans group agreed. Yes this was hate and I should report her. Eventually I did, but even then something didn’t feel quite right. I had expected to feel “righteous” as she was told to take her post down or face consequences. She complied, I’d won and stopped hate. Hadn’t I?
Then came J.K. Rowling. Transphobia from my favourite author. The author that wrote so many insightful things in her Harry Potter book that have deep and meaningful morality. How could she, after her road to fame paved with struggles and hardship, be so bigoted towards trans people. I was saddened, outraged and hurt. My group was under attack, and I wanted to find out why.
So I looked for articles explaining why JKR was so transphobic? Why was she supporting a horrible person who misgendered people deliberately? I found my answers, it wasn’t difficult. There were articles in Pink News and other left leaning papers I subscribed to. I also looked online. I’d been following “Jammidodger”, on youtube and learning about the female to male transition (which was more interesting to me than male to female). I searched for a video about Rowling and found it. He confirmed my worst suspicions. Rowling was transphobic and covering her bigotry and fake concern. Satisfied, I posted the video to YouTube sharing with people why I thought my favourite author was transphobic, but that I didn’t hate her and would still read her books.
Then an old friend from University popped up on Facebook messenger. One who had been part of that IT group at university. A woman I deeply respected and had had endless moral, philosophical and ethical discussions with when I was younger and we were trying to fix the world. It read.
“Hi I’m a TERF, do you want to talk?”
How I became a Trans Rights Activist, then turned “Gender Critical”. Part 2
Trans Woman Are Women — A Failed Defence
“Hi I’m a TERF, do you want to talk?”
“Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist”. These words from a trusted friend alarmed me. Was the whole world going mad? Why was there so much hate? I decided though to engage with my friend. I needed to actually connect with someone and discuss rationally, and this was the perfect opportunity. At university and after, we had regularly attended “Wednesday pub sessions” where we would logically debate a moral or ethical topic with another friend. A physicist, mathematician and a philosopher in a bar debating the world’s problems. It was conceited to be fair, but it was fun and really opened up avenues of thought. Now, I would be going in to battle once more, this time defending the concept “Trans Women Are Women”.
After an initial conversation we rapidly got into the defence of this proposition. My friend — let’s call her “Marie”, threw me initially by simply stating:
“Woman = Adult Human Female”.
Definitions are key to any logical construct. I knew that to concede this point would make my job impossible, so this had to be challenged. I agreed that one definition of woman was scientifically accurate and based in biological reality. I already knew that sex is binary and that Intersex had no part in this logical debate, but that is for another chapter. Instead I had to define woman in a different way.
I attempted to define woman as a gender, explaining the theory of gender identity. Marie already knew this however, and rejected the scientific evidence I presented. The evidence on gender existing “in the mind” is admittedly weak, and neurology is problematic because as brains are plastic, you would expect anyone who is non conforming to “gender norms” to have a slightly different brain.
So, science of gender had to be abandoned for now as inconclusive at best. I attempted to define “woman” as a gender by descriptive means, but every time I had to refer to gender stereotypes which in a previous debate many years ago we had already rejected as oppressive. “Women wear dresses, women are more empathic, women are good listeners”. Every definition of woman as something other than “adult human female”, failed.
After several weeks of mental gymnastics, I conceded the reality that woman means adult human female and any other definition rests on ugly stereotypes. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had just unseated the cornerstone of my own world view.
The House Of Cards
Having agreed upon the definition of “woman”, the next logical step is to define “trans woman”. If I could show that trans women were effectively women, I could still get my friend Marie to concede that trans women should be considered women, which would be an acceptable compromise. The statement “trans women are women” is patently false, but it is the meaning that matters. Trans women should be considered women.
I knew this was coming. I had to defend this point of view, so I gamely attempted it. My main point was that, for reasons as yet unclear, some males (and females) have an inner knowledge that their body is “wrong”, so to ease their mental suffering they “transition”. In other words they have hormone therapy and surgery in order to look almost indistinguishable from women. This is in scientific terms analogous to “phenotype”. They appear to be female (even though they aren’t), and so therefore, should be treated as females by society.
Surprisingly Marie didn’t argue this point initially, she didn’t need to. Instead she asked me “what is a trans woman”. I gave the response once again, the one I understood at least, and that’s when I was shown that my initial assumptions were untrue.
Trans women are not only the people I thought they were. The umbrella had been widened to include anyone who stated they were a woman. Most people who identify as trans women do not have full sex reassignment treatment. Most are still physically male, and when I found out that cross-dressers and what we used to call “transvestites” are now “trans women”, the entire house of cards that was my gender ideology began to collapse.
I have nothing against cross dressers or anyone who doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes. Prince, David Bowie and plenty of female non conformists too — wonderful people ripping up the concepts of what it “means to be a man/woman”. However, I was also aware of the men who fetishise women’s clothing and appearance and derive sexual pleasure from this. They can’t all be “trans women”, and if they are then no, not all “trans women” can be considered women.
I realised intuitively that men who don’t conform to gender stereotypes are going to be at risk in male spaces. However, as Marie pointed out, why should women accommodate biological men in their spaces, just because men are hostile to members of their own sex? People who transition are different, but we had already established that most people who identified as “trans women” have not had surgical intervention and do not intend to. It’s not just a waiting list problem.
I did try to counter with “what about trans men”. This immediately failed. It isn’t relevant to the discussion about trans women and it is not men who have sex protections and legislation to prevent and undo oppression by the opposite sex. Trans men exist, so do non conforming women, but we were discussing the premise “trans women are women”.
Marie then struck again. “What does it mean to be considered a woman?”
Again this was problematic. As a gay man I realised that I didn’t really treat women different from men anyway. The only time I treat women “differently” from men is when it biologically matters. Privacy, safety, sexual attraction and equality, and each time it is the biological reality that matters. Women are less strong, so they need more protections. Women need privacy from men because of this. Women need different support for things like pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. All of this is informed by biological reality. So is my sexual orientation.
I had to concede that the only people who I actually thought should be considered women are women, and fully reassigned trans women. A debate on the latter would come, but I had already realised much of what I believed rested on unstable foundations.
As a final nail, Marie introduced me to Alex Drummond, who is unashamedly supported by LGBT groups as both a woman and a lesbian. I watched this video dumbfounded, as there is no way I can call him a woman or a lesbian. He is a non conforming man, and should own that, as a male and a man. An extreme case, but still relevant to logical discourse. If I cannot accept him as “a woman” then the entire premise I’ve been arguing is, in fact, a load of rubbish.
Despair Then Anger
A full analysis of gender identity and what it means to be a “man”, “woman” or “non binary” will come in later chapters, but for now I had to go back to my sources. I had conceded all my friend’s points, pretty much, and been shown the problem wasn’t with the small number of people who wanted to change their bodies as much as possible — like my trans friend, but with the idea that anyone can “identify” themselves as a woman. This no longer made any sense.
For the first time I then actually read the case of Maya Forstater, I read J.K. Rowling’s essay myself. I fact checked it myself, independently. I couldn’t find any “hate” and everything she had concerns about existed. I felt a growing sense of despair as I realised there was a serious miscommunication going on. Had the LGBT community just misread what she was saying because they were so traumatised and wary of hate?
I then read the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and it’s the Equality Act 2010. I realised that it was a confused mess of terms which as a Data Architect by profession realised needed a lot of work, but that is a story for another day. I realised though, that the definition of the protected characteristic of Gender Reassignment is very poor.
Finally, I tried to find out what my own “side” thought, and why there was a miscommunication. We were not trying to abolish protections and safe spaces for women and we were not just proposing that anyone who feels like it can identify as a woman. I agreed with Marie that yes, that would be stupid, reckless and dangerous to women, and no we were not proposing that.
Except “we” were.
As long ago as 2015 this is exactly what Stonewall are campaigning for, apparently oblivious to how dangerous this is. In their response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee Inquiry on Transgender Equality their responses are there in black and white.
Their points one and four you can read for yourself. I am wholly opposed to them. Exactly why this matters and how, is another chapter in my story, but when I saw this from my own side things began to click in my head. Everything Stonewall stood for was now “trans”. Their entire focus was “trans rights”. I no longer felt despair, I felt angry. A growing sense that I had been lied to, taken for a fool and brainwashed into believing a nonsense ideology — for what? My trans friend? She was already quietly getting on with a normal life as she wanted. What was all this about? I decided to find out for myself.
It is hard to explain the sense of betrayal I feel to anyone who isn’t gay. The rainbow flag stood for so much in my life. A signal of safety, acceptance, support. Now it didn’t stand for anything, except lies and deceit. This is the reality of the emotional impact, but I will be fine, because I always want to do what is right, not what is easy…
At least I have my favourite author back.
How I became a Trans Rights Activist, then turned “Gender Critical”. Part 3
Trans women should not always be considered as women
In part 2 I described how I had been forced to admit the obvious fact that women is a term we should reserve for adult human females because biology matters. To insist that a woman is "anyone who says they are" is problematic and dangerous for many reasons, not least the way we communicate. The mantra "trans women Are women", I had always thought of as "should be considered women", but then I wondered, if I had now agreed that no, not all trans women should always be considered women, what impact would that have on my view of the "trans rights" debate, particularly in the UK.
I focussed mainly on the Stonewall recommendations to the Women and Equalities Select Committee rather than the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reforms. This is because the recommendations given by Stonewall there are a lot easier to understand and set out a clear set of aims Stonewall is trying to achieve. Very quickly I could see two points in particular becoming extremely problematic:
Point 1: Reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, including the removal of the requirement to provide medical evidence and a process for people under 18 to access legal gender recognition
Point 4: A review of the Equality Act 2010 to include ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘gender reassignment’ as a protected characteristic and to remove exemptions, such as access to single-sex spaces
Currently, a person in the UK must have a diagnosed condition of Gender Dysphoria (more and that and its own problems later) and be at least proposing to undergo medical transition in order to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). At least that is my understanding. In any case they are supposed to have “lived as their proposed gender” (whatever that actually means) for two years. The GRA definitely needs reform, as it’s a garbled mess, but that I may cover in another article. As it stands now, a trans woman, in order to change her legal sex, must be effectively diagnosed by medical professionals “as a trans woman” on the path to transition. They then have the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment”.
The issue with point 1, which is “Self-ID”, is that if not all trans women as I now understand the term should be considered women, it completely falls apart. Without medical evidence or an intended pathway to transition, anyone could claim they feel like a woman, get reassignment legally and be instantly entitled to all protections and provisions women have. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) specifically in their “clarification” (which contradicts itself) they state:
“At the same time, a trans person is protected from sex discrimination on the basis of their legal sex. This means that a trans woman who does not hold a GRC and is therefore legally male would be treated as male for the purposes of the sex discrimination provisions, and a trans woman with a GRC would be treated as female. The sex discrimination exceptions in the Equality Act therefore apply differently to a trans person with a GRC or without a GRC.”
Therefore, if a male obtains a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), then they are legally female. If any male can assert they are “a woman” without medical evidence, what evidence is needed? How does one “prove” they are a woman? It is not possible. “Woman” is not a costume. Wearing women’s clothes doesn’t make a man a woman. If someone’s gender identity does, then no one can validate this one way or the other. I believe the only way someone can be a woman, is to be born female, and that doesn’t contradict the idea that we should in appropriate circumstances treat trans women as women. Considering someone as something is not the same as thinking they are something.
This approach to legal sex/gender is further compromised by the fact that your sex observed at birth (it isn’t assigned, it is identified) is mostly the right observation and is your biological sex. That cannot actually be changed, so by changing your gender you change a fundamental property in the eyes of the law. This is a terrible mistake in my opinion and why the entire Gender Recognition Act is built on foundations of sand. In fact, if both gender identity and sex are separate, as Stonewall assert themselves, then why aren’t they pushing for legal recognition of gender and sex, so that someone can, when they are of age, declare their gender without needing to erase a fundamental truth about themselves and their medical needs? Pedantically were this the case I would demand my gender identity be left blank as “unknowable”, but that is a further essay on the nature of gender identity.
The argument that “no one will abuse self-ID”, neither stands up, nor is a valid reason to legislate, and in any case, there are existing trans women who I do not believe should be considered as legally “women”. When you consider women’s rights, women’s access to single sex spaces, and provisions made specifically for the female sex, these should not be applied to males because these rights and provisions are made because of biological bias against women in society. It certainly isn’t all about toilets. There are many examples where it would be inappropriate for a male to be acting “as a woman”. Here are a few examples. Remember, that most self-identifying trans women have not undergone reassignment and many do not propose to.
· Female only changing rooms and showers, where the presence of a male body will cause distress due to the biological strength differences in men, and the fact that men commit 99% of sexual offences, and over 80% of the time, women are the victims.
· Religious adherence where a woman is not allowed to have a male doctor examine her.
· Rape crisis centres for women, where the presence of a male bodied person will cause significant distress.
· Women only shortlists and constructs designed to redress the sex imbalance in work and society
· Women’s sport, where being male confers not only advantage but a significant risk to women, especially in contact sports.
This is far from an exhaustive list. In addition even if those people who identify as women posed less of a threat to women than other men, and even if they had the same risk profile as women regarding sexual assault, the fact that they have not medically altered themselves makes them indistinguishable from men, and it is unfair to force women to include people who cannot be distinguished from those who we are protecting them from in their own spaces and groups.
There is more to this as well, around the concept of lawful and fair exclusion, and this is my objection to point 4 of Stonewall’s recommendations. The Equality Act 2010 made Gender Reassignment a protected characteristic, but it specifically allows exemptions to this when it can be shown that exclusion on the basis of sex is the only practical or reasonable way to deliver a service that would normally be open to “all women”. This can include some of my above examples, although at the moment a trans woman is de facto defined as someone who has at least been diagnosed with a condition and been recommended transition.
Taken together, points 1 and 4 destroy women’s rights completely, and to allow under 18s to identify with gender, which I as a 42 year old man am having trouble understanding myself, is incredibly reckless. If anyone can identify as a woman, the term woman becomes meaningless. Women lose their definition and their rights, and the disadvantages that they endure due to biological reality are ignored. Gender identity, which is entirely personal, ever shifting and unmeasurable, becomes the only differentiating factor. The potential for abuse is obvious, and will occur. It isn’t a matter of if, but when. Even worse, without being able to record someone’s actual sex correctly, when it does occur, it will be all the more difficult to see.
I cannot stress how much the assertion that "Trans Women Are Women" is so fundamental. If this is true, that every trans woman, simply by stating their own internal identity as a woman, is, in fact, a woman, the trans rights discussion is logically consistent. Any deviation, no matter how small, undermines and collapses this view, because exceptions must be made, exclusions applied and monitored.
Finally, as my friend Marie pointed out, why should women be asked to consider trans women as women at all? Trans women are a subclass of men. I accepted that objective biological reality in part 2. They were born male, remain male and although they may identify as a “woman” they remain male. If any trans woman should be considered women by society, then it is women alone who should be making the decision on whether or not they should, and what pre-requisites or rules there might be. In short, although I can have an opinion on what I think, as a male, I have no right to be asking or telling women to make space for a specific group of males.
Then I thought, why are we always talking about trans women, and not trans men?
How I became a Trans Rights Activist, then turned “Gender Critical”. Part 4
In the previous articles I discussed how I changed from being a “Trans Rights Activist”, to being “Gender Critical”. By now, I had some understanding of the topic, but still felt that overall the issues around the dogma that “trans women are women”, were a women’s rights issue. I hadn’t considered trans men at all, nor the possibility that I, as a gay man, had anything personally to worry about.
This changed when I realised that Stonewall had redefined “gay”, and in fact even homosexuality to mean “same gender attracted”. At first, I was just irritated, since I don’t believe gender is a real tangible thing, rather a set of subjective, individual classifications based on stereotypical gender roles. In addition the classification of homosexuality as “same gender attracted” couldn’t be more factually incorrect. In a later article I will be deconstructing gender, but now I want to talk about why gender ideology affects me as a gay man – personally.
When I came out at 14 in 1992, my father went to the doctor. Clearly, he didn’t want a gay son and the doctor thought that he could help I received a book which suggested my sexual orientation was just a minor setback that could be rectified. It suggested that I simply had a neutral sexuality and that with effort, I could “redirect” this sexual energy to the “proper” sex – starting by fantasising about the more “masculine” women.
I genuinely tried this, for a week. Even at 14 I had a vivid imagination. I tried to imagine “masculine” women – short haired butch bikers, soldiers, anything that could still interest my sexuality, but as soon as the clothes came off and I was presented with a female form, my sexuality simply said no.
I realised then, even at 14, what “gender” was, even without consciously knowing it. I know now though, and I can explain it. “Gender” roles and stereotypes are imprinted on my sexuality as a proxy for sex. I’m attracted to masculine things because society has associated these as markers for male sex. This is how uniform, bear and leather kinks develop. All these “gender” things are signals to my sexuality that “this is a male”, simply because we no longer walk around naked.
Gender ideology is homophobic, and backwards
As Stonewall has now declared that gay men are attracted to male gender, they now have this backwards, and this is wholly homophobic. I am homosexual, exclusively attracted to the same sex. The gender roles and presentation are simply markers my sexuality uses. No wonder people are “disgusted” by gender non conformists, as their sexuality gets mixed signals and that cognitive dissonance can be felt. That is where bigotry and prejudice lie, failing to recognise it’s your sexuality having a meltdown because it’s not actually that clever, instead of recognising it and giving it a wry smile and a pat on the head.
Sexuality however is rooted in sex, specifically phenotype. When all the gender presentation is stripped back and I see the naked form, my sexuality is interested in the sex characteristics of males, and this innate homosexuality is now under attack from trans rights activists.
Again and again I see sexuality reduced to a “genital preference”, with people saying that my insistence for male genitals is “exclusionary” to trans men, transphobic, and thus bigoted. Because they insist trans men are men, if I don’t accept them as such and overcome my “genital preference”, I am bigoted and need to consider accepting men regardless of their appearance.
This is awfully and horrifically familiar. It is a new form of conversion therapy and while I have personally felt it (and then gone into full attack mode on twitter, which isn’t healthy), I can now see that lesbians are ground zero for this. Below are examples of the homophobic comments now made acceptable by this new ideology:
The Boxer Ceiling (warning, upsetting comments)
Get The L out (UK)
Sexuality is based on sex not gender
Fundamentally there are three sexualities. Heterosexuality, which “targets” the opposite sex, homosexuality, which is same sex attraction, and bisexuality, where both sexes are attractive to a greater or lesser extent. The problem here I feel is that bisexuality is seen as an equal attraction to both sexes, which is rarely the case. Overlying this is also gender, which can be imprinted on top of someone’s base sexuality just as mine is, to a greater or lesser extent. Gender preference is a preference, sex is not.
For heterosexuals and homosexuals, we share a common sex-based attraction. It is not trans exclusionary, it is sex exclusionary. As soon as my sexuality is convinced a trans man is male, naked and in front of me, it will be interested (assuming he is also attractive to me, I don’t find all males attractive), but this is currently never the case. Trans men who have only partially transitioned or not transitioned medically will never be sexually attractive to me. This isn’t my fault, I don’t have to examine why and to do so is questioning my innate sexuality, something I fought hard to stop. Now it’s coming from my own “side”.
Gay is not an identity
Another issue with sexuality is identity politics. If you are a female you cannot claim the identity of a “gay man”, nor homosexual. You are not like me. The definition of homosexual is same sex attracted and no one can actually change their sex, therefore you do not meet the definition. This isn’t exclusionary, it’s simple categorisation of facts. I am not a potato or a lamppost, I cannot identify as one or expect anyone else to believe me, because it is demonstrably not true.
I understand gender dysphoria and the need for some people to medically transition. However, all this does is alter the external appearance of the body so that someone’s visible phenotype is more like the sex they want to be. Current medical capability does not deliver results in any trans man that can get my sexuality to “accept” them as a male. It doesn’t make me a bigot; it is the definition of who and what I am.
This is particularly harmful to young gay men and lesbians discovering their sexuality. To be told their innate sexuality is a “preference” they should think about is deeply worrying. I’ve been there, it isn’t pleasant being made to feel you are somehow “wrong in the head” for your feelings. In addition, coercing people to engage in sexual acts that they don’t want is sexual abuse, and the definition of rape culture. It needs to stop.
Words need to be clear for us to communicate
If a trans person wants to communicate and we want to be able to communicate with them, especially when it comes to dating, we all need to be able to agree and understand words. If someone says they are a “gay trans man”, that is all the information I need. I can understand that they are female, heterosexual and trans. Put together this means I can say I’m not interested in them sexually, and I never need to make them feel excluded because they are trans. I can put it another way and embarrassment and time wasting is avoided.
Similarly, I need to be able to express fairly that as a gay man, I am never going to be sexually turned on by a trans man’s body when naked. Of course I can be attracted when the only clue of their sex phenotype I get is what I can see with their pants on, but I know what my sexuality does when presented with a mixed or incomplete phenotype. It’s not interested. I need a way to express this to trans men on a dating site without resorting to things that will make them feel bad. “Gay man” should be all that is needed, but if “gay man” is widened to include people who are not turned off by mixed phenotype or female presentation, that is a real problem. We need accurate words.
This is particularly difficult with the word lesbian, which is by definition a homosexual female. Men cannot be lesbians, and somehow a “gay trans woman”, needs to be clearly defined as not a lesbian, so that lesbians can stop being gaslit into thinking they ought to consider male genitals.
If you don’t have a “preference” for genitals, then congratulations, you are bisexual. If you are particularly or even exclusively into people who present male gender, regardless of genitals, then great! You are a bisexual person who has a strong preference – or even requirement – for masculine gender. Bisexuality is rarely equal, but if you can maintain sexual arousal, genuinely, when presented with either set of sex genitals (and other elements of sex phenotype), you are still by definition bisexual.
As a closing thought I have always considered “bi erasure” to be real. People often disregard bisexual people or assume every bisexual is the same, with an equal preference for either sex or gender presentation. Now once again, bisexuality is ignored, and instead homosexuals are being targeted in order to validate someone else’s wish to not only look like the opposite sex, but to actually be the opposite sex, and claim that identity.
I’m genuinely respectful and inclusive of trans men wherever that is appropriate. My sexuality is by nature exclusive, and it excludes all females. That is my right, not bigoted and not in any way “wrong”. I would ask that people who question sexuality or reduce it to “genital preference” look for the actual bigotry that does exist, the bigotry in themselves.
Wow. This is heartfelt. I as a straight woman in the 80s and 90s walked with my lesbian and gay friends. I supported their calls for equality. When the trans question came out I stood for trans rights then something changed. A feeling that something wasn't right, that some not all were literally trying to claim that they were something that they couldn't be that if they felt they were a woman they were. This worried me. You have put all my fears into the words I felt I couldn't say. Thank you for this. You are such a strong brave man
This is terrific. So clear, considered and well-written. And also heartfelt. The only sad thing is that certain people will almost certainly give you hate for it, while failing to come up with anything half so eloquent.