Tell me, we want to ask, why do you like me? Why do you have the hots for me? Why do you love me?
Because, we continue, if you like something about me that I don’t like about myself, I’m going to get very damn upset!
There were three articles in Slate about trans and the people who desire us.
In a third, a correspondent attacks Amy Schumer for asking the wrong questions of the legendary Bailey Jay, a married transwoman who made her name as a porn star. Bailey Jay tells her truth about sexual and romantic relationships and that is disquieting to many.
We all want to be loved for who we believe ourselves to be, for what we are proud of. We don’t want to believe that someone likes the messy parts of us, “fetishizing us” and “turning us into a sex object.”
This isn’t about those who do violate us, with physical abuse, stalking and such, but instead about people who just romance us, working to trade what we want for what they want.
“I would never sleep with someone perverted enough to desire someone like me!” to paraphrase Groucho and Woody Allen.
Other people, though, well they are stimulated by different things. The best we can do is work to create deep relationships where we move past surface bits, but as every straight woman and gay man knows, surfaces do count.
You never know what stimulates other people.
I was trailed by a man in a mall and I tried to duck him, assuming I knew what he was interest in. The people who make a big deal about transwomen in the world have something that pushes their buttons, their own stuff, which often involves links to she-male porn sites.
When he caught up with me, his question floored me.
“How big are your calves?” he asked me. “They have to be over sixteen inches!”
He was following his own desire, but it wasn’t the one I projected onto him, the one I feared.
Women in the world don’t get to vet desire. They do have the choice to engage or reject men who only seem to want a small part of them, but they don’t get to pick their body shape or who is stimulated by it. Straight women have to understand their role as sex objects, though no woman wants to be only a sex object, reduced by lovers they see as creeps.
If you are dark, petite and curvy, you can’t expect people to have the hots for you as a willowy blonde. You can tint your hair, go on a diet, but in the end, there is only so much you can do. Every woman has to be able to stand before the mirror and say “grant me the strength to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I really do want people to like me “for the right reasons,” which are the reasons that I want to believe that I am likeable. Look at me! Don’t look at me that way! I want the bits of me that are ugly, the bits that scare me, the bits I want to go away to be as invisible as I wish that they were.
Trying to control what others see as fascinating, exciting, compelling and even beautiful in me is a futile and counterproductive idea. Humans are raggedy creatures and it is those serrations that provide connection points to other people, exposing as they do some very human part of us, from the shape of our body to the truth behind our smile.
The vagaries of human desire will never, ever be politically correct. Some people may want us to serve their own hot buttons, while others will respond to something that we can’t even acknowledge lies inside of us. The call of the heart (and the genitals and the mind and the creativity) is not clean, simple, rational and appropriate. It is just very, very human.
Trans people, I regret to say, will always have a kind of trans humanity, a truth that runs through the lines of man or woman, male or female. People will always respond not just to what we want to project and claim in the world, but also to a kind of raw and transcendent truth that lies within us. Politically, all transpeople are bisexual because we want our partners to love all of us, who we were, who we are and who we are becoming.
That truth is often just what we have tried so hard to conceal, to cut off and make invisible so we can walk in the world without stigma, noise and confusion. That truth makes us very uncomfortable.
Deciding that people who admire us for what we want to believe are the wrong reasons are bad, broken or abusive says much more about us than about them.
Getting upset with another transperson who encourages and engages with admirers, who talks about the hard work of building relationships, even sexual relationships with others, What we do for love is always human and messy, working on many layers, and if we don’t want our choices to be judged, we have no right to judge others, even if we would never make the same choices they do.
We can’t accept love until we believe that we are lovable. Cutting out all the parts of ourselves that we find ugly will never be possible.
Other people people are going to desire, lust, enjoy, be attracted to and love what they see in us, not just what we want them to see in us. They probably won’t even have words to tell us why they are taken with us, and they certainly can’t not see what they see in us. We can’t control other people.
We have to face our fear and shame, making peace with all the parts of us, not blaming others for seeing bits we wish weren’t there.
It is very hard to just feel safe enough to expose myself, knowing that I can’t control what others see in me.
I just can’t imagine any other way to get the love, affirmation and caring that my human self needs in the world.