Post # 1
I realize that this is a very controversial topic. I also want to state that I am posting because I am trying to educate myself on the topic out of pure curiosity and to understand the transgender community.
If I say anything that is not the correct term – please correct me – I am not trying to offend anyone. I have family and friends that are gay, but I don’t know anyone who is transgender and I have questions.
So yesterday I was watching the Ellen DeGeneres show and she had a guest on that was transgender, I don’t remember the name so let’s just call him Sam. F2M (female to male). Ellen made a comment saying something along the lines of how Bruce Jenner was the one to start bringing awareness about transgender people. I disagree ( I love Ellen but this is the first time I found her comment incorrect). What about Chaz Bono? (Cher’s son [I refer to Chaz as her son now because didn’t Chaz go through with the entire sex change?]) .
Anyway, my confusion is with a few things.
OK so first, we now refer to Sam as HE because HE is no longer a SHE since HE has SRS, right? (Sexual Reassignment surgery)
Sam is attracted to women, now that Sam is anatomically a male, is Sam a lesbian or heterosexual? Which leads to my next question, if Sam dates a woman who is heterosexual, does Sam let this woman know “hey btw I used to be a female?” I ask this because let’s say things get serious and Sam doesn’t tell this person that he used to be a she and finds out other than Sam telling her, that person might possibly feel lied to.
Or would Sam only date a person who is a lesbian but then I am confused because Lesbians are attracted to women, so how would this person be attracted to Sam who is now a man?
Does this all make sense?
Post # 2
Hey! These are all normal questions.
First, the pronouns that we use for a person are up to that person’s preference. They are NOT related to whether or not that person has had surgery, takes hormones, etc. If I up and decide tomorrow that I want to be called “he,” then the generally kind and acceptable thing to do is to call me “he.” Similarly, Chaz Bono became Cher’s son as soon as he determined that he was trans and asked to be referred to by male pronouns and nouns.
Determining when to tell a potential sexual partner is a difficult, difficult thing. Trans women are sometimes killed by men who find out that they currently do or used to have male genitalia. Sometimes trans men and women put it in their online dating profiles. Sometimes they date within the trans community. Sometimes they’re introduced through friends who already know. And probably some people never ever say anything to their partners.
The question about lesbian/heterosexual/etc is probably not really worth worrying about. I think you might be over-thinking that a bit. People are attracted to who they are attracted to.
One thing you might also find helpful to know is that it’s considered VERY inappropriate to ask trans people about their medical history (e.g. hormones, surgery, etc). Just like you wouldn’t ask a random woman how she felt about the length of her labia or if she thought she might want to get a boob job someday, lol.
Post # 3
- Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA
It all really depends on the individual situation, but here’s my understanding of it:
OK so first, we now refer to Sam as HE because HE is no longer a SHE since HE has SRS, right? (Sexual Reassignment surgery) – Depends on what Sam wants to be referred to as, but yes usually if Sam has transitioned to male, he considers himself a male in every way including pronouns.
Sam is attracted to women, now that Sam is anatomically a male, is Sam a lesbian or heterosexual? Heterosexual, because remember that Sam feels / is male in every way.
Which leads to my next question, if Sam dates a woman who is heterosexual, does Sam let this woman know “hey btw I used to be a female?” Yes that’s generally the polite thing to do but of course it’s a complicated issue.
Or would Sam only date a person who is a lesbian but then I am confused because Lesbians are attracted to women, so how would this person be attracted to Sam who is now a man? You’re right that lesbians are attracted to women, and because Sam is / looks like a man, a lesbian generally wouldn’t want to date him. Sam would probably date an open-minded heterosexual woman or a bisexual woman. Remember that there are a LOT of people out there who have a fairly fluid sense of gender and/or sexual attraction. It’s certainly not black and white.
Post # 4
These are good questions. Some people who are transgendered identify as transgendered (transman or transwoman), where others simply identify as man or woman. This actually creates some controversy within the transcommunity as some members believe that transpeople who don’t continue to identify themselves as trans contribute to the invisibility of the issue.
It’s best practice to follow the pronouns the person wants to use (e.g. Bruce Jenner still wants to use masculine pronouns though he is transitioning, and Chaz prefers masculine). SRS doesn’t always happen and isn’t necessarily relevant to pronoun choice.
Gender and sexuality are two different things. Some trans people stay attracted to the same sex they were attracted to before they transition, but others will find themselves exploring their sexuality more. There was an interesting This American Life awhile back about a FTM who talked about how, after beginning her testosterone injections, he could not stop staring at women. He said he knew what it was like to be ogled and tried so hard to resist, but just couldn’t help himself. It was interesting to hear the perspective of someone who had been on both sides of the gender spectrum. I believe this was the episode: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/testosterone
Post # 5
My daughter has a close friend who is a F2M transgender(no surgery yet). He considers himself a heterosexual male. I’m not sure if his girlfriend considers herself straight or bi. He is every bit a boy despite his anatomy, so I’d be surprised if she thought of herself as gay.
I don’t think there is any one answer to this. It is different for every individual. I also think that telling someone about gender transition should be something you are up front about with someone you are dating. That is just basic honesty.
Post # 6
OK so first, we now refer to Sam as HE because HE is no longer a SHE since HE has SRS, right? (Sexual Reassignment surgery)
You start to use someone’s personal pronoun when they ask you to, regardless of their status with surgery. Having SRS or “bottom” surgery does not mean that you’re not a transwoman or a transman. It’s a very personal decision whether or not you go through with a bottom surgery.
Sam is attracted to women, now that Sam is anatomically a male, is Sam a lesbian or heterosexual?
If Sam now identifies as a man, regardless of surgery status, and is attracted to women, Sam is heterosexual.
Which leads to my next question, if Sam dates a woman who is heterosexual, does Sam let this woman know “hey btw I used to be a female?
It is not vital that the person say they are trans IMMEDIATELY, but it is common courtesy in any relationship to divulge such issues, especially before physical intimacy.
Sam dates WOMEN, regardless of their sexual orientation. There are plenty of lesbians who stay with their partners through their FtM transitions, and still identify as lesbians. Sam may date a lesbian who is aware of his transition, but that person’s identity is still up to them to decide if they are lesbian or bisexual. Sam may date straight or bisexual women, and it will not mean a darn thing about their identity because 1) Sam is a man, meaning a straight woman is still straight. 2) Bi means you’re attracted to both men and women, so no conflict there.
I hope that helps. The paragraph above I’m not 100% sure on because there’s a whole lot of identity issues that I’m not well-versed on, nor do I speak for other people.
Post # 7
I don’t know the answers about hetero vs homosexual before and after surgery.
But I can comment (and lament) about the pronoun situation. I have a friend who has just started transitioning from male to female (somewhere on the spectrum). His birth name was “Samuel” and he went by “Sammy”. Once he started transitioning he switched to “Sam” and eventually will become “Samantha”. When Sam first told me about this, I asked what pronoun would be preferred. This is a struggle for Sam because Sam doesn’t like “he” but doesn’t really feel like “she” either, at this point. “They” was suggested, but the grammatical incorrectness drives me nuts. So I just try to avoid pronouns all together. Which, even as writing this post, is annoying and difficult. So I’ll be thrilled once we get to Samantah and “she” but I know it’s a long process. So, in the meantime, I use “they” and try not to grimmace or talk circles around avoiding a pronoun. All that being said, I’m super happy for Sam and I’ve never seen them so happy. Sam started taking hormones and facial features have really smoothed out and become more feminine, but mostly Sam just looks more happy, in general, which is great to see.
Post # 8
I don’t have a lot of experience with this and may be wrong, but from what I know, you refer to a person in the same way they refer to themselves. So, for example, Bruce Jenner allowed Diane Sawyer to use “he” during their interview and said that the use of “he” was apropriate. If somebody refers to themselves using feminine words, then you should also. If they refer to themselves using masculine words, you should also. I don’t think you need to check their anatomy to decide how to refer to them.
In regards to sexual orientation, if someone believes they are male, and attracted to females, they would be considered heterosexual. If they consider themselves female and are attracted to females, they would be considered homosexual. Regardless, I abide by the thought that what others do in the bedroom is none of my concern (unless I’m in that bedroom!) It’s important to note that sexuality isn’t black and white, but a spectrum of different colours. So I don’t really think it’s fair to label someone if they haven’t labeled themselves yet. Let them figure it out and if it’s necessary for you to know, they’ll tell you.
And if Sam is dating a woman, I think it is always a good idea to share who you are with your partner. A journey like going through sexual reassignment surgery is a big deal – and part of who that person is. It would be silly not to include that in their conversations at some point. Do I think it should be the first thing they talk about? No. But it shouldn’t be a surprise 4 years down the road.
Sam can date anyone he wants to as long as it is a mutually consentual relationship. My guess is if Sam likes women, and has a penis, he would date a woman who likes penis.
Post # 9
Basically it is pretty invasive to try to determine if someone has had any kind of surgery or hormones. It’s essentially casually asking someone what their genitals look like, which is not cool. Some trans people do not get gender-affirming (a much more accurate term than ‘sexual reassignment’) surgery or any surgery or hormones at all, whether because of lack of access to healthcare or because of personal choice.
People can determine their own pronouns–he, she, they, ze, xir, whatever feels right for them. Some people feel comfortable with a gender their entire life, some people change their identity in their teens/20s/30s/40s etc., and some people feel different on different days. Don’t think of people as “anatomically” anything, because there are women with penises and men with vaginas and nonbinary people with breasts, and there are intersex people with bodies that don’t fit neatly into the “male” or “female” boxes and it doesn’t determine their gender. If a person you would have coded as feminine says they are male and want to be referred to as he/him, then that’s that. He is the ultimate authority on his own body and gender and sexual identity, and respecting that is not optional.
I’m sorry to say that the dating thing you brought up is a really nasty trope that in most of the US is currently accepted as a legimiate legal defence of people who murder their transgender partner, especially when the victim is a transwoman. Openess about that facet of your identity is individual–some people have it in the first line of their online dating profile, and for some people it’s a conversation to be had much later, or not at all.
Hope that helps.
Post # 10
Gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate things. If someone is MTF, that means she is a woman on the inside, despite the genatalia she is born with- so the outside of the body does not match what her heart and brain is telling her. Some transwomen get SRS &/ or hormones, but not always. Her sexual orientation is separate from her gender identity- her gender identity is all about her being female while her sexual orientation is about who she is attracted to sexually and romantically, so she can be transgender and heterosexual if she likes men or transgender and a lesbian if she likes women.
Virtually every transgender person I know is honest with potential partners, if they don’t already know. Sadly it is dangerous not to tell as this can endanger the transperson as some people may react violently. Many feel that the honest route is the best route, albeit a difficult thing to bring into conversation, because it is seen as being open and fair to their partner and if someone is unaccepting of this fact, better to know sooner than later and have your heart broken.
Post # 11
I am so glad I posted this – I was really worried because it can be such a sensitive topic!
These answers have all been great, it definitely gives me a better understanding.
thank you all
Post # 12
I’m actually only responding to part of what you wrote, sorry to not be of more use! But I had a conversation with a friend this morning who said that Bruce Jenner was just now bringing awareness and people now know about this. And I was pretty bristly about that. I have never personally known anyone who was a transgendered person, but for some reason I’m hypersensitive about people giving credit where it is due. And I agree that there have been MANY that came before him, and Chaz Bono was a great example. I don’t want to minimize what Bruce Jenner is doing, but it can’t all go to him.
Post # 13
The Genderbread Person was made for questions like these.
Its important to note that one doesn’t have to be medically transitioning (hormones, surgery, etc) to be trans*.
Post # 14
Actually, there’s quite a bit of historical precedence
for the grammatical correctness of the English singular they. Heavy hitters in English literature like Shakespeare, Austen and Shaw used it because it’s convenient and coherent. If you want to follow the rules of a handful of 19th century British authors, you would refer to any person of unknown gender and groups of mixed genders as ‘he’ because the default person is male and the natural order is to put the masculine before the feminine. I’m guessing you don’t do that.
Gender neutral language is widely accepted in mid-20th and 21st century English, so there is absolutely no reason not to use the singular they. (Plus, putting something as subjective and silly as grammar before the comfort of your friend is…pretty crappy.)
Post # 15
Your care in describing your friend makes me very happy, and warm. I’m sure Sam feels the same.