Girls will be boys, the old song says, and boys will be girls. That’s certainly true of transgendered people, folks who identify with a gender other than their original biological sex. Some transpeople go no further than dressing in the clothes of the “opposite” sex, while others take a medical route, using hormones and usually undergoing sex-reassignment surgery that may or may not include genital reconfiguration.
Once upon a time, male-to-females (also known as MTFs) were accused of being gay men who couldn’t deal with their desires, and so became straight women instead. But in this postmodern era, both gender and orientation are viewed as a lot more complex than that. From being an oddity, sex changers have increasingly joined the mainstream.
And transfolk—from obvious drag queens to full-fledged post-op transsexuals who can “pass”—have their fans. Says one gay genetic male into guy-identified guys, “I recently joined an online queer dating service, and I was surprised how many men on the site were looking to meet male-to-female transsexuals.”
One “she” who was born a “he” concurs. “I’ve been hit on by any number of trans chasers,” says she. “A goodly number of them are looking for chicks with equipment, gals who’ve had breast augmentation but not genital surgery. Which sort of makes sense, when you figure they’re looking for people who are obviously transgendered.” So does she mind being sought out for what she is, not who she is? “I don’t mind—if the fellow’s charming,” she smiles.
Transgenderism goes in the opposite direction, too, and in recent years, female-to-males (or FTMs) have become a lot more visible on the gay scene. Says one cute, bearded FTM, “I have no problem with queer bioguys finding me intriguing, as long as they don’t treat me like a science project. Like many transmen, I don’t have a surgically constructed penis, since I figure one wouldn’t work all that well. I’ve been with totally gay men who’ve never had sex with women, so they needed some extra guidance figuring out my plumbing. It’s like they’re losing their virginity all over again.”
As with other sexual attractions, it can be a thin line between welcome appreciation and dehumanizing fetishization. An older FTM points out, “There are a lot of transmen out there, particularly younger ones, who get really upset if they suspect they’re being sexually objectified. That seems a bit weird to me, since one big worry for most guys who are transitioning is that people won’t want to have sex with them because they’re trans. So if a genetic guy thinks it’s great to get together with an FTM, what’s the problem?”
The particular appeal of transfolk depends on what a nontrans individual is looking for. For instance, a straight-identified man into transwomen may be fascinated by penises, but not sexually attracted to the guys they’re usually attached to. And if he’s bi-curious, it might be an appealing way to ease into male/male sex.
To some, just the crossing of traditional gender boundaries is sexy in and of itself, a thrilling adventure between the sheets. On the other hand, a queer genetic man might well be attracted to a particular FTM, regardless of chromosomes. One gay biomale who’s dated several transboys says, “I’ve always been into small, cute dudes anyway, and many of the FTMs I’ve met fit that category. And unlike some gay men, I don’t find vaginas threatening. I still prefer schlongs and butts, but a hole can be a whole lot of fun.”
When it comes to orientation, things can seem confusing: If a man loves to lick a transguy’s labia, does that make him straight, gay, or bi? Our gay biomale says, “There’s no doubt in my mind that FTMs are male—that’s what the “M” stands for. It’s just that a guy with chest hair and a moustache might be configured a little differently below the belt.” Others, though, might differ, including theorists who argue that transfolk are neither conventionally “men” nor “women.” In the end, it might well come down to the usual rule of sexual engagement: If it’s hot, consensual, and safe, why worry?
If you’re a trans fan, have fun…and behave yourself. Be forthright but polite if you suspect that the guy you’re attracted to might once have been named Jane. Remember—you’re looking for a friendship with benefits, not a freak show. “Though most of the men I’ve dated have been perfect gentlemen,” says our male-to-female friend, “I’ve met my share of creeps. But then, what gal hasn’t?”
Simon Sheppard is the editor of Homosex: Sixty Years of Gay Erotica, and the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at [email protected]. Visit Simon at www.simonsheppard.com.