“I want to be with you, but” is the beginning to a statement that women like me hear all too often. Our transgender identities are used as weapons against us to justify why we are incapable of being loved beyond a quick sexual encounter. We are often reduced to our genitals by the men who lust after us, and demonized by the women who aren’t us. Misinformation spread by people outside the trans community aids in the trivialization of our lived experiences. Furthermore, we are ostracized for just existing, and penalized as a result of encountering lily-livered, craven men who wish to enjoy our company, so long as no one’s watching.
Cisgender men who date and are attracted to transgender women belong to a group of people that receive unwarranted amounts of flack simply for liking what they like. The injurious feedback these men get from a society that values hegemonic masculinity over the livelihood of transgender individuals, often incites them to recoil into the safety of a four-walled hotel room, the back of a car in a secluded area of town, or any other hidden space that would permit them to comfortably enjoy a trans woman’s body without ridicule. Historically, these DL dogs have let the voices of hatred, misunderstanding and ultimately, transphobia cloud their heads and further perpetuate ideologies that harm the women they so fondly worship behind closed doors.
This practice, of only caring about a trans woman while her clothes are off, adds to the stigma that comes with being a tranny chaser. It is a cowardly, feeble-minded attempt made by closeted heterosexuals to feel validation in their sexual lives, seeing as they refuse to allow themselves the same happiness in their public ones. It is a degrading declaration of ignorance on behalf of straight men, at trans womens’ expense. It is one of the many reasons why hundreds upon thousands of girls like us lose our lives every year in acts of sexual violence and maltreatment.
The false notion that these men are gay for engaging trans women in romantic relationships makes it that much easier for them to disrespect and invoke violence upon this demographic of women, who are simply out here trying to live. We are compartmentalized by the dudes who claim to want the woman attached to the penis, while pissing their pants at the thought of openly dating us. They celebrate us between the sheets, moaning and grunting in ecstasy as they enthusiastically praise our bodies. They revel in our anatomic real estate. They take us for granted and use us as a method of escape from the restrictive confines of their drearily lackluster lives. A sad conundrum, the fragility of masculinity is, more often than not, the reason behind this secretive behavior.
Now, you may be wondering, “If cis men are such a troublesome group for trans women to be with, why do y’all go after them?” Trust me sis, we don’t. That answer can be found in the many DM’s and messages thirsty guys send us on the daily, because they want to “try something new.” Some of us take the bait, others know better. I’m not afraid to admit I’ve entertained a fine piece of trade, knowing that it would end badly for me. I mean, who doesn’t like a little friends with benefits situation? Suffice it to say though, we don’t deserve to be kept in a position of seclusion because our cis counterparts are scared to appreciate us publicly.
Men that have no regard for their lovers’ lives outside of a sexual relationship, sometimes resort to barbaric inhumanity if they feel their “secret” could come out. Lashing out and acting on brutality are symptoms of a toxicity, rooted in transphobic ideologies, that ultimately discounts our womanhood. The spineless acceptance of these destructive mindsets is a gross, irresponsible injustice and it needs to stop.
We are outstanding, creative, and inspiring individuals who deserve to be recognized beyond the limits of a locked room. If you can enjoy my body, my company, and my experience in private, there’s no reason why you should be afraid to do the same in public. I am not a commodity to be used at your disposal. I am not inspiration porn for you to take advantage of and live vicariously through. I am beautiful. I am worthy. And I am not a secret to be kept.
Ivana Fischer is a film and media enthusiast who specializes in cultural studies. You can find her across all socials @iv.fischer