More than the sum of the parts

In spite of having a great day to that point, things went downhill over the course of my dinner, only to bottom out as the evening concluded. The baseball game I caught the end of with a friend ended in defeat for the home team, but I barely noticed. Instead, I was reeling from what I concluded was responsible for this turn of events: the exoticizing of trans women’s bodies. Notably that evening — mine.

I feel no shame about my body, nor should I. I love my curves. I exercise daily, and my shapely calves come from propelling my bicycle up climbs of thousands of feet every week. I feel no compunction about a wardrobe that emphasizes what I have worked hard to achieve. Still, I can’t help but feel some attention is due to speculation about what’s concealed by these clothes, the theory that I have an extra something to offer; that perhaps while I am a woman my body still betrays a different, testosterone-fueled puberty.

For months, I’ve wrestled with my feelings on the matter. I feel as though we, the transgender women of the world, do have something extra to offer. That extra something, though, is not what we’re typically being pursued, even fetishized for: the experiences, the introspection, all hard-earned, make for a person who can be sure of herself, because she holds a place in a world which demands it of her. Meanwhile, instead of valuing this process, society as a whole stigmatizes relationships with transgender people, especially with transgender women.

From this vantage, an archtypal transgender woman would make a quite desirable partner, and you’d be foolish to pass one up. On the contrary, the real question is why she’d want a relationship with you. A background of privilege, some combination of white, male, and wealthy, make you more likely to be unable to appreciate what she’s had to deal with. While she is more than likely indeed a magical being, she’d still need support and partnership. Nearly everyone does. Your background might well blind you to her problems and needs, leaving her exposed in her most vulnerable moments. Little wonder many transgender women limit themselves to partners who are also transgender, and thus hopefully share some understanding of her circumstances.

So, do not consider this a beseeching, piteous plea to save us from a life of angst, for it is not. We are full, rich beings with our own charms and much else to offer. Instead, consider if it is you, awash in your misconceptions, who might need rescuing.

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