Am I Gay?

Anyone who frequents places where chasers hang out will see this question asked over, and over, and over, and over, and over…

“Am I gay?”

My quick and dirty answer is:

“Why does it matter?”

Like most things, this is complicated. It’s also usually not a good question to ask a trans woman,  at least not this tans woman. You see, I have no investment in maintaining a chaser’s homophobia. On the other hand, I have even less investment in ungendering myself.  A “Yes” answer means I’m actually a big liar and I’m really a guy. A “No” answer implies there is something wrong with being gay or perceived as gay and I will not enable that line of thought.

I know some gals who will always answer “Yes”. They figure society will see them as gay and the sooner they get through this particular bump (if they ever do) the better off they will be. There is some truth to this – at some point a guy dating a trans woman will probably be called “a fag”. If he isn’t comfortable and strong enough to handle this, he’s in for a pretty bad time and will likely not be able to maintain a relationship beyond a casual sex-thing.

I also know gals who feel that the answer is always “No”. They are women, the guys are attracted to them and their femininity. Gay men are not attracted to trans women, so only straight guys are. Their answers are always peppered with assurances and validation for the guys. If the guy isn’t sure in his sexual identity, then he won’t be sure in a trans woman’s gender identity.

This question is at the root of much of that chaser angst and ultimately verbal and physical abuse leveled at trans women. It’s a loaded question with no good answer. I understand why this question gets asked but none of the answers are very good or completely true depending on the guy.

There is a third answer that isn’t very good either. Saying “I choose not to label myself” is a mark of a privileged place in society. Society marks those who are seen as different, having no label or imposed identity is either unrealistic or privileged (probably both). I don’t have the luxury of being “just a person” – in some situations I cannot avoid being marked as trans. The only way a man who dates me can avoid also being marked, is to deny or distance himself from our relationship.

While I may feel like I’m “just another woman in the world” and largely I simply exist where this is true, there will always be times when I am either forced or choose to disclose my status. This means there is a good chance I’ll be seen as a “dude” by those around me and by extension, the guy I’m with will be seen as gay. A man who dates a trans woman needs to be aware that some portion of his identity/image is just as fragile as that of the woman he is with.

Am I gay?

I think if you need to ask, you already know the answer…


~ by laughriotgirl on December 10, 2009.

34 Responses to “Am I Gay?”

  1. And then of course there is the curious phenomenon that whereas the cis men are worried about maintaining a straight identity, you have all these cis women who’re into trans men who are just as invested in keeping their lesbian identity.

    As you say, if you have to ask…

    I think “none of these labels apply” is fine as long as one is willing to accept that one might have to give up a certain amount of automatic privilege and/or status in a given subculture.

    • Hey belledame – I think a “No label applies” is a perfect way to look at it, and different than “I’m not into labels/ I reject being labeled” etc. One is a statement of fact and acknowledges that labels are being applied (for good or bad). The other avoids it, or tries to, completely buy opting out – something most people can’t do.

      I also didn’t want to talk about trans guys and cis lesbians because it’s not my personal scene. I have seen this so so many times though. Like “I’m such a massive dyke, I’m dating a (trans) man!” *shrug*

      • And yet I’m such a massive dyke I’m dating a woman! Even as I find butch lesbians sexy, I am really disturbed by the, ehr, worship (?) of masculinity among some lesbians that leads trans guys to being the ultimate catch. Hmm, maybe I should write a post about that.

  2. I like your answer: “Why does it matter?” It really doesn’t. The only reason “homosexuality” is frowned upon is from thousands of years of generational influences; of people telling us what they view as “right” and “wrong”. Trans individuals aren’t gay, and using such a label is reckless. Labels are used to either differentiate or discriminate, and using such all inclusive ones like “gay” generally implies the latter.

    • Yes..and no. Individual trans people are gay/lesbian/bi and not at all interested in sex. One of the often overlooked aspects of being trans is that every partner with have (except one) can, and will, be classified by someone as a same-sex relationship.

      But you are correct in that labeling can become complicated when discussing trans people’s sexuality.

      • That’s what I was trying to get at. From a purely biological standpoint, yes, but I was trying to get at was more of the whole labeling and “lumping people together” thingy. But since trans people are the type of peg that fits in neither the round or square hole, why not just make a new niche that fits them?

      • I guess people are so tight assed and preoccupied with social statuses that gender interests have to be so two-dimensional. (rolls eyes)

    • Well, some of us are gay, of course. But likely not trans women who date men, no.

      • True. I was trying to differentiate between the “traditional” gender roles and interests is all. I’m going to shut up now…

  3. It’s incredible how many times I have seen this question posted on various sites. I haven’t given it much thought. My opinion is that liking / loving / being intimate with / having a relationship with a transwoman does not make one gay.
    I consider myself straight because I see transwomen as women. I am attracted to their femininity. I have talked to gay guys and every one of them has said that they are attracted to men and not to transwomen. They were unanimous in saying that gays are attracted to masculinity not femininity and that transwomen are feminine.
    As you point out though a guy dating a transwoman will be called gay at some point. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life and being called gay is not going to bother me. I know what I am and the lady I’m with will know what I am and in the end that’s all that matters.
    Now if someone were to call the lady I’m with a dude or man or a male then that is a different matter. That is taking away her identity and her gender and I will not allow that to pass. That is when I will take action against anyone that would say that.

  4. Hi, I just happened upon your blog and I like what you have to say. I think that it can be so important, in some people’s minds, to label someone’s sexual identity. I have to admit, I have tried to “figure people out” in the past. One label that I like a lot for myself, although it’s still really new and may require too much explaining to strangers, is “pansexuality.” On wikipedia it has a pretty good description: “Pansexuality, or omnisexuality is a sexual orientation, characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love, or sexual desire towards people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.” I’m attracted to people because of who that person is inside, so it’s more focused on the characteristics of the specific individual and not their biological sex.

    • Nice Kathleen! I think alot of us would fit into the pansexual description and it does seem more appropriate than “hetero” this or “homo” that…

    • pansexual is a decent term. Although I have to say the only times I have heard it used were by some pretty creepy guys looking to get laid, or by radikewl hipster lesbians to talk about how so totally great they were for being both lesbian and dating a trans guy.

      Not implying you are either – just that the word gets used by some pretty messed up folks. Perhaps it’s time lay a claim to it by people who aren’t jerks?

  5. i don’t believe anyone who claims to be 100% gay or 100% straight. why can’t gayness and straightness be a range, with tranny chasers lying somewhere in the middle?

    • Trust me, I’ve actually tried in the past to not be all about the women (for reasons both political and personal). Some of us really are at the ends.

      Frankly, I’d like the tranny chasers to not be anywhere, though I also define chasers as people who fetishise transness over us as people (and as a trans lesbian have the questionable benefit of watching cis lesbian chasers being all about trans men so I’m thus “immune”). I also think that trans people through a wrench into cis notions of sexuality and you end up with those who care about gender over genitals, genitals over gender, and those who don’t distinguish. In other words, an axis for physicality and another for gender (which may even be more axes like for expression, identity, etc). People really are quite complex sexually in my observation.

    • it’s interesting that cis lesbians who are into ftm identify as lesbians but male tranny chasers ostensibly identify as straight. seems that how you identify yourself is just as important as what you’re attracted to.

      • I think the reason for the lesbian/straight identification is … misogyny, more specifically Femphobia – the distrust of being seen as “feminine”. Because being male and masculinity is prized, being seen as “gay” is the ultimate rejection of that for men, while being straight is for women.

        Untrue as it in oh so many many thousands of ways, the knee-jerk reaction is often to think in terms of feminity -> masculinity :

        Straight Woman > Gay Guy > Lesbian/Bi Woman > Bi- Guy > Straight Man

  6. I always try to turn it around on them and say that I can’t tell them anything about their own sexualities. Sometimes they persist, but it usually gets them to drop the subject.

  7. Replying to PFC Rodriguez’s reply to my reply above (since it can’t nest any more),

    No, don’t shut up. It’s helpful to have more people point out that trans is not “gay turned up to 11” (as someone put it). At the same time, people also need to understand that trans people can have any sexuality so as to not erase those of us who are not straight.

    I do like LaughrioTgirl’s point about how, because of the way trans people are viewed by society, that our partners’ sexualities are up for debate anyway. While people understandably want to resist that, they also need to accept that it happens.

    • I was aiming for more of a “pansexual” description but my illiterate ass just worded things wrong. 🙂 I never knew the word “pansexual” existed until Kathleen posted it. It seems more appropriate rather than the “black” and “white”, “right” and “wrong” or “gay” and “straight” labels that have been oh so kindly forced on us by previous generations.

      Anyone who makes it a point to get all up in arms about someones sexuality more than likely has no life. Trivial things like that are the height of frivolity.

  8. Would “I’m attracted to men” (or women, or whomever) work better? It doesn’t actually answer the question. In that case you wouldn’t have to say yes or no.

    Though I guess it leaves it up to the other person to view it through their own lense and think that you just said yes or no. What a lousy catch-22.

  9. “Yes I have a penis
    & yes that does make you gay”
    is my usual answer.

    Strangely, my birth cert & passport say “female”
    …go figure.

  10. Sometimes though I just say I’m an annoying mechanical toy duck
    exploring Species-dysphoria

    It’s their own insecurities & self questioning.

  11. I’d always say no to the question, simply because mis/ungendering is too important of an issue to me. Which leads me to believe that “Am I gay?” really isn’t the right question either. Ideally, I suppose, “do I have an open mind about diverse methods of expressing my sexuality and other people’s genders?” is a better question for chasers to ask themselves, though since most of them start off with such a loaded question as “am I gay?” to begin with, I’m probably expecting too much.

    • wow, I agree. That seems a bit much to ask of most chasers. I have to make the disclaimer that the cis guys who normally post here are probably some of the nicest chasers you’ll ever find – smart too. 🙂

  12. Merry Christmas everyone!

  13. I don’t care what i am and would openly dte the right girl. I say i’m bi. Not a chaser either- chaser’s just want to f**k. Trans lover, maybe.

  14. I have seen this post in various places as well and always wondered of myself why doesn’t anyone accept the view that for everyone there is someone to love them and if that is the case, if transgender woman exist, naturally there would be men for them. I always felt that I live as a man and I live with a partner who lives as a woman that makes it a straight relationship if you ask men. That my partner was born the opposite of her life’s gender should not make me a gay man as I am not attracted to men.

  15. A “No” answer implies there is something wrong with being gay or perceived as gay and I will not enable that line of thought.

    I really disagree with this. Especially because the question is usually highly implying the following: 1. there is only gay and straight, 2. there are only two genders- so you must be attracted to the same or the opposite, 3. your sexuality can be easily indicated by your actions regardless of your actual attraction

    No, I’m not gay because I’m the wrong gender to be gay. We don’t even have a word to describe peopel who are attracted to me- how is my saying “I’m not gay” implying it’s bad to be gay, when the very question erases my gender and sexuality?

    • Part of the problem is obviously dealing with binary sex, binary gender, and binary sexuality and how these are somehow meaningfully informed by each other.

      In the case of chasers asking the question, a great deal of the problem is that they are coming from a place of binary identities. they are looking to me, a trans woman (who is also very binary ID’d for the record), to help them navigate a very personal, very nuanced area. There is an expectation of a “yes” or a “no” – and neither of those answers is correct and neither of those answers is incorrect. Both of those answers serve to erase something (I feel is) important about my life.

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