What is the fascination with transgender women?

Dear Dr. Milrod:

I am very perplexed with men who like transgender women. Is this a latent homosexual experience? I normally get quesy just watching two men kiss on television. It’s my hang-up and I harbor no ill will towards the gay community.  Could you please explain what trannie-lovers are all about?

Weirded Out

Dear Weirded Out:

Sexuality is a many-splendored thing. The topic of “trannie-lovers,” an otherwise derogatory term, is an interesting one. It appears that for many, it is clearly NOT a “homosexual experience.” It is one of novelty, fantasy and preference. Having sex with someone who in the eyes of the beholder looks like a woman but has a penis could be very exciting. One this is absolutely certain: the gay community has zero to do with the transsexual community, other than both have been, and continue to be, members of marginalized groups. A gay male has a male gender identity. He has no intention to become a woman. Please do not confuse such a male with someone who has a brain syndrome signaling discomfort with the male gender.

Your problem is that you confuse gender with sexual orientation. You are not alone in this case. Many people have not made the separation in their minds, simply because they just assume that if you want to be female, you must be gay. But the truth is far from it: fully one third of all men who transition and become female are lesbians. I have seen it in my practice, and other practitioners confirm it as well. This means, that even after they transition, they still prefer women sexually. I have also encountered women who transition and become males – gay males. Hence, gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation. As to those who love to fellate a preop transsexual female, well, there are a variety of issues that come into play. This still doesn’t mean that such individuals are homosexual. If they were, they would prefer fellating someone who looks 100% male and above all, someone who selfidentifies as 100% male.

Just like there are bi-gendered individuals in this world, there are also bi-sexual people. But those who love women with penises are in a category of their own. As to your being unsure about having sex with a potentially previous male, it’s all about how you view masculinity and femininity. If it’s in the chromosomes, then yes, that can’t be changed. But just so you know, there are women out there who look 100% female and who have a Y chromosome. These women cannot give birth and they have to take medications for their condition. And yes, post-op transsexuals may have lived part of their lives as “unoperated males.” But if they look extremely female, chances are that their experience as males was a very strange one, and that clearly, they were intended to be female from the start.

We have found brain differences in transsexual vs. non-transsexual males. What we haven’t found is what happens in the process of gestation. I think you’ll need to clearly separate transsexualism from homosexuality, because they are truly apples and oranges.

As for “being weirded out,” I don’t think it’s going to disappear any time soon. Heterosexual males are hardwired to shrink from same-sex attraction. Study after study confirms this. Women, on the other hand, are not so extreme in their orientation. A recent study exposed heterosexual males and females to a variety of pornographic films, depicting male-male, girl-girl and male-female interaction. Results showed that the male study subjects had zero arousal when viewing the male-male material, whereas all possible combinations equally aroused the female subjects. The researchers then took this to mean that females are more fluid in their ability to be aroused by same gender sex.

As to Cathy Reback’s study of men who experience sexual arousal from preop transgender women, the men interviewed clearly stated that they were not “homosexual” in the least, but that “chicks with dicks” held a special appeal. It’s probably best to accept that there is someone for everyone, and that as long as no one gets hurt or abused and participates willingly, it’s good that we have such variety in this world.

Christine Milrod, Ph.D.

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