Friday Philosophy: Straight Talk

I would be a fool not have doubts about posting some of the things I write.  I would be more of a fool if I let that stop me from posting them.

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I’m a lesbian.  I’m not a gay man.  I’m not a man of any sort, though I am aware that there are many people who disagree with me on that.

Because I am a lesbian, I have the social liberty to speak out.  It’s really hard to find a straight transwoman who will speak up.  Did you ever wonder why?

Disclaimer:  I am not a straight transwoman.  I’m not a straight woman of any form.  It is with sheer audacity that I choose to speak to this subject.  I apologize ahead of time for applying my understanding of what human sexuality is and can be.  We all have our biases and our own ways of thinking.

I’ve met one man in my post-transition life to whom I have been attracted.  Janis Ian’s bass player and I had an interesting conversation while I was waiting for her to perform at Juanita’s in Little Rock in the early 90s.  My therapist’s house/office was just around the block.  I liked the guy a lot.  I have no illusions that his view of me coincided with the image I would have liked him to see.  I am old.  I am not cute.  I was less old but probably also less cute back then.  At best I can hope that I was of indeterminate gender at that point in time.

Being of indeterminate gender is not sufficient for a straight transwoman.  It’s dangerous.  It can be downright deadly.

Now I used to be what is generally called a straight guy.  I know I’m not a gay guy because I once slept with a gay guy, a chicken hawk who preyed on teenage runaways, in order to avoid freezing to death one night in Seattle in 1967.  I did not enjoy the experience.  I’ve also had sex with another pre-operative transwoman.  I didn’t particularly enjoy that either.  But I can’t understand any need to assault either one of them.

A straight transwoman has a huge problem if she doesn’t long to be lonely.  Transwomen of any orientation mostly have women friends.  Some women accept us into their ranks.  Some don’t, but at least we can have a dialog about it.  I spent a lot of effort on that in the latter part of the 90s in order to open quite a few doors for us in lesbian communities.  That some of that effort made it into the written media both embarrasses me and makes me proud of myself.  That’s a strange mixture.

It’s a fact that most of the regular visitors to my diaries both here and back when I was posting at Daily Kos were women.  Seldom could/can I even attract gay men to participate in the discussions I try to generate.  Fact.  Not blame.  Sometimes a whine.

But it is the way things are.  Arbitrary numbers from an anal source:  95% of men feel uncomfortable around a known transsexual woman, and most of them are thinking to themselves, “That’s a man.”  If we are lucky, only two-thirds of women feel that way.

Would it seem unusual for a straight woman to want to have men friends?  Does your answer change if you change “woman” to “transwoman?”  Why?

We transition to do good for ourselves, not to harm anyone else.  We do that for lots of really complicated reasons, but perhaps the most important one is that we feel like women.  We believe that we think like women think because we believe we are women.  No delusion.

We don’t want to “trick” anyone.  We want to be accepted as women, not “fool you” into thinking we’re women.  And jesus is that hard for a straight transwoman who wants to be attractive…or is attractive, even beautiful.

I wonder what goes on in the minds of men who see one of us who is beautiful.  What is the switch that fires if you know…or find out…that a beautiful woman is a transwoman?

What would cause you to jump back?  What might cause your fist to ball?  What might cause a physical attack?  Or maybe just what would turn your stomach?

Some transpeople call that the moment of truth.  Some non-transfolk call that a fight-or-flight response.

Do you fear you are gay if you find yourself attracted to one of us?  Or have sex with one of us?  Is there a point in between those two at which you think you would become gay?

And in the name of love, is there anything wrong with that if you did?

If I were a straight transwoman, I would probably have friends who are gay men…it’s hard to leave the community in which one received some semblance of support totally behind…but I wouldn’t want a relationship with one.  Nor would he be interested in a relationship with me, most likely.  I’m not gay and he’s not straight.

What do you fear?  Who do you fear?  Us?  Or other men?

Can you clue us in?



Fear is strong

Does hatred

make anyone


We come in

all degrees

of beauty

all depths

of substance

all capabilities

of love

Should cultural


so consistently

deny us love?

The riddles

need solving

so that lives

may be lived

and love

may be found

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–June 13, 2008

This is not a blame game.  At least it is not intended to be one.  I am not crazy or stupid and I will assume the same about you.  I fully expect that nothing said here will bring any apparent change your view of gender, sex, or sexual orientation.  I certainly don’t expect men to rush out and date a transwoman just to prove they are not biased against transwomen.

All I desire is open and honest communication.

And maybe the perception of humanity will be different by the time your children or grandchildren are close to the place in life where we find ourselves now.  

Author’s notes:

  • There are…issues…for lack of a better word.  These issues can cause pain.  I fully expect that someone might say something that might hurt my feelings, might cause me some pain.  But if those issues are never addressed, I can’t grow, you can’t grow, and reality will not change.  I can’t heal and neither can the rift between us.
  • When I started to write this, I thought I would have to write a fiction piece, rather than talking from any personal position.  But every story I thought about creating about Elaine going on a date came to the point where Elaine had to wonder if she was going to survive the night.

    As a transwoman I am aware that every time I go out in public, I am at the mercy of any man who chooses fight over flight, who doesn’t make the choice of walking away if he doesn’t want to know me.  And I know that any man who chooses to be my friend is also in danger.

    In such ways are some of us cut off from full participation in our communities.  In such ways do we become those whom people fear.


    Skip to comment form

      • Robyn on June 14, 2008 at 00:01

      …how many more important things there are to talk about.  War.  The economy.  The climate crisis.  Habeas corpus and restoring the Magna Carta.  The media.  Impeachment.  Dot. Dot. Dot…fucking dot.

      That’s the story of my life.  There is never time to think about some things.  So maybe these words are also headed for some future WhereWhen.

      Set my pixels free.  

    1. … making judgements about your choices… no.

      i’m pro choice. and fascinated by your trajectory. it crosses so many boundaries and barriers.

      • brobin on June 14, 2008 at 01:39

      I’m just not very in tune with transgender issues and therein lies the confusion.  I am originally from Mission Viejo, CA which basically borders on Laguna Beach, CA.  I’ve been friends with gay and lesbian singles and couples since I can’t remember when, and that is just normal for me.

      I did not, and do not know any transgendered people.  Now that I think of it, that is kinda weird.  In Southern California there are a lot of people per square inch, therefore one would expect to have known persons from every background.

      My simple, uneducated understanding of transgendered persons is that they are not comfortable with their sexuality to a point that they are not, within their bodies or minds, the gender that they were born.  Therefore, my understanding is that many, if not most transgender people are attracted to the same sexual oriented people that they feel they are.  Not that they should be, but ARE.

      Can you tell me where my beliefs are incorrect in their interpretation?

      I can read as well as the next person, yet I have no personal point of reference.

    2. The two transwomen I have met have not attracted me sexually. Though I did (obviously) think about it. There was a mass of conflicted emotions under that, that could have been the cause of the lack of sexual attraction. But trying to sort those out, in the face of that confusion, added to the normal confusion and vagaries of sexual attraction was apparently too big a task, since I didn’t do it, lol.

      Looking back, I would say that confusion was the main factor…but every other factor you list entered into it at some point, except the fear of being gay. I was young and the thought of what others thought was still important, though…so the fear of being thought gay was there.

      If they had not been transient encounters, if I had gotten to know them…it might have been different.

    3. You are very courageous, both just being who you are and for sharing your story.

      Try to keep in mind we are all human first and therefore all one.  Then comes all sorts of divisive labels that separate us into ever smaller groups and eventually cause us to stand alone as unique individuals.  Those labels are much less important than the fact we are all one.

      • Alma on June 14, 2008 at 05:00

      but I wanted to comment before I left.

      You have passed out knowledge, and in turn it does get passed to others.  Because of your wonderful works, I’ve learned a lot, and have passed on that better understanding to others, and have seen them embrace it.  Even a few males.  Not all do, but acceptance and understanding have spread to some.  🙂

    4. It’s a fact that most of the regular visitors to my diaries both here and back when I was posting at Daily Kos were women.  

      as one of your straight male admirers, I feel obligated to comment. I might rarely comment in your diaries, but you’re one of my favorite writers on these tubes.

      I wonder what goes on in the minds of men who see one of us who is beautiful…What would cause you to jump back?…What do you fear?  

      I’ve never been in that situation and can’t say for sure. I wish I could tell you it wouldn’t bother me; I think I’d be lying.

      But one thing I know for sure. My response today would be different than a couple years ago, because of reading your diaries on dKos (and now here). I don’t know anyone until you who’s openly transgendered and never thought to “count past two”. To misquote the bard, there are more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in my philosophy.

      you have, personally and singlehandely, changed attitudes.  

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