I wasn’t sure if getting laid was worth losing some dignity.
December 12, 2014 11:25 AM   Subscribe

 
Online dating is a strange place - there's a powerful sense of freedom in that it's a bunch of people saying "Here I am! I like me! Come and get it!" — but also it has this creepy feeling of a wandering the halls of a people store, picking and choosing your favorite brand and rejecting one because he or she has a gram of high fructose corn syrup. I don't envy the experience of women, who are already objectified, or of minorities or uncommon identities, who are of course fetishized.

I wish it was better, but it ain't. It's getting better, though.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:48 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


"If you want to have sex, and you aren't male, you must accept degradation as your due!" - some people, apparently
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


There was a question on AskReddit this week asking about the experiences of straight men with transwomen and later edited by the asker for experiences from transwomen.

Multiple transwomen talked about the problem of being fetishized and at least one man explained why he stopped seeking transwomen after realizing that he was treating them a such.

There were also quite a few positive stories from straight men who discovered they could have a happy, fulfilling relationship with a transwoman.
posted by justkevin at 11:50 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Does being on Tinder mean Avery Edison is single again? I thought lots of her previous writing mentioned a long term partner so that kind of bums me out a little if they broke up.
posted by mathowie at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, I played with Tinder one day last year to see what all the fuss was about with "cards" and the UI, and I got the feeling from using it for an hour that all the women I looked at had profiles saying specifically they weren't looking for "hookups" and only wanted to find serious committed relationships. I got the feeling that all the articles about Tinder being some sort of hook-up app were overblown since it seemed like a new UI on a match.com-style serious relationship finder kind of app in reality.
posted by mathowie at 11:54 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Culture doesn't just arrive from the sky; we're not condemned to "having sex equals letting people be horrible to you if that's their thing". Edison is making the argument that, while various fetishes are okay in various pre-specified and negotiated contexts, "I want to hook up" should not be taken as "therefore you have blanket permission to use language that is widely recognized as degrading and offensive" - an argument that seems pretty basic to me.

"Wanting to have sex means that you have to accept that people will use slurs against you and just in general be ignorant of basic sexual etiquette even though they have access to the google" seems awfully sex negative to me - sex as something that is for people so stupid and degraded that they can't even manage the bare minimum of courtesy. I get through all my daily interactions without breaking out slurs or making wildly unusual assumptions about how it's okay to treat strangers - I would expect that most people can manage this on Tinder as well.
posted by Frowner at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2014 [22 favorites]


"If you want to have sex, and you aren't male, you must accept degradation as your due!" - some people, apparently

Well, maybe there's something inherent in the setup of "shopping for human beings to physically consume within a patriarchal society" that makes that so. Especially in a technologically facilitated setup.
posted by deathmaven at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


"shopping for human beings to physically consume "

This is a really weird way to describe casual sex.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:03 PM on December 12, 2014 [26 favorites]


“I’ve never been with a t-girl before. Could be interesting.”

If that is what passes for offensive entreaties via Tinder, am I going to be forced to upgrade my opinion of it?
posted by 99_ at 12:06 PM on December 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


"shopping for human beings to physically consume "

So like cannibalism?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but its not really "shopping" if that which you want to "consume" can choose to reject you.

Freaking sociologists.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:08 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Try being a badly passing trans woman* on dating sites. All the abuse and fetishizing, with none of the hope of actually finding people who are vaguely interested in you! Oh, and you don't really get a choice about disclosure or anything, either.

If that is what passes for offensive entreaties via Tinder, am I going to be forced to upgrade my opinion of it?

I gather you're not trans, then? If you were, there's a decent chance you'd see that as more hurtful and offensive than your run-of-the-mill 'get on my dick' and demeaning cusses.



*(see that space between those two words? It matters!)
posted by Dysk at 12:08 PM on December 12, 2014 [24 favorites]


Across my (what I alarmingly realize is) decades of hooking up through various venues, I've had more than a couple "I've never been with a guy before, could be interesting" responses, many of which I've followed up on, many of which have been a good time.

I can understand finding the use of "tranny" difficult (although even that was a word that was acceptable not even that long ago). But the "hey, you might be interesting" response in a potential hookup situation... that's pretty much what hooking up is, isn't it?
posted by hippybear at 12:10 PM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


shopping for human beings to physically consume

If you've never tried the app, you really should. You can delete your history and stuff right after, but it's pretty gross how it reduces all human interaction to basically asking you over and over again "Do you think this person is hot? or not?" and that's the only choices you have, approve or reject. I tried it a few times to see how it worked and quickly figured out it's pretty gross and reduces everything to a base level, so I'm not surprised to hear people acting like jerks using it.
posted by mathowie at 12:11 PM on December 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


Is that seriously how Tinder works?

I have several gay hookup apps in my life (Scruff, Growlf, Grindr), and NONE of them work that way...

How is it that a straight hookup app is MORE shallow than gay ones? Good grief.
posted by hippybear at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2014 [17 favorites]


It's not "YOU might be interesting," though. The reason it's insulting is because it makes it clear that the asker has absolutely no interest in the trans person as a human being. It's just as offensive as "ooo, I've never been with a fat girl before" or "ooo, I've never been with an Asian before." And, despite what some may think, Tinder usage does not preclude being interested in people beyond the holes and appendages they have.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2014 [24 favorites]


Across my (what I alarmingly realize is) decades of hooking up through various venues, I've had more than a couple "I've never been with a guy before, could be interesting" responses, many of which I've followed up on, many of which have been a good time.

I can understand finding the use of "tranny" difficult (although even that was a word that was acceptable not even that long ago). But the "hey, you might be interesting" response in a potential hookup situation... that's pretty much what hooking up is, isn't it?


Thing is, that doesn't cast your gender as somehow Other in the way that the whole 'ooh, never been with a trans woman before!' thing does. And you're not really dealing with a world that views the validity of your gender with a suspicious sideways glance, at best.

Context, dude. Context.
posted by Dysk at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


mathowie: "they weren't looking for "hookups" and only wanted to find serious committed relationships"

Uh, do these women not understand what the app is? A polished, more attractive version of Craigslist casual encounters?

I'm against harassment and degradation, but c'mon. If you're gluten intolerant then maybe the Flour Emporium, Wheat City, and Breadco aren't the stores for you.
posted by wcfields at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2014 [25 favorites]


My experience with everything "dating while trans woman" has pretty much gone terrible. I don't have a lot of hope lol, but I keep getting on that goddamn bike for another spin around the track, hoping the next experience won't hurt too badly.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yeah, but casual hookups aren't really much about gaining a connection with another person as a person. You can respect the other person, sure, but the primary interest is "are you my kind of pretty and will I enjoy getting sticky with you" not "you are an interesting human being and I would like to be naked with you," for the most part.

Note that I am not as in not saying people can't be offended if they find something personally hurtful. Maybe it's different when it's a gay thing? (hippybear help me out here). With most gay male hookups, or at least when looking for them e.g. Squirt/grindr/Scruff/etc, it's all about reducing someone to their physical characteristics--body type, cock size, whatever. It's essentially masturbation that happens to have another warm body present.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:21 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Uh, do these women not understand what the app is? A polished, more attractive version of Craigslist casual encounters?

Am I the only person who has dozens of friends who use Tinder for actual DATING? I would too, if I could get the damn app to install on my phone. It's, like, allowed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:21 PM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


How is it that a straight hookup app is MORE shallow than gay ones? Good grief.

The selling point of Tinder is that no one you don't think is hot can message you. So, you can only get harassed by people you liked the look of.
posted by yonega at 12:21 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's so cool to see this posted here! I'm glad people are enjoying it.

and they trembled before her fury: (by MeFi's own Avery Edison, previously)

And previouslier.

mathowie: Does being on Tinder mean Avery Edison is single again? I thought lots of her previous writing mentioned a long term partner so that kind of bums me out a little if they broke up.

I'm still with my girlfriend (the wonderful @rahrahtempleton), but we have an open relationship.

Dysk: Try being a badly passing trans woman* on dating sites.

Thank you for bringing that up. I feel bad for not explicitly mentioning that as someone who gets passed most of the time (especially in carefully-chosen photos) I have a very different experience than other trans women. I can't speak to that experience, but I'm sure the Guardian would absolutely be interested in a piece about it, especially in response to mine. They accept pitches from anyone.
posted by aedison at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2014 [50 favorites]


Am I the only person who has dozens of friends who use Tinder for actual DATING?

Yeah, that's the disconnect I was trying to describe upthread. In one day of testing the app out, I was surprised to see most any women my age matched against me were stressing long term relationships and not hook-ups (it would say it in their profile), but the app itself I found kind of gross in that you have to just say approve/reject to real people over and over again. Most of the time I wanted a middle "eh, they seem really nice!" option because rejection felt gross.
posted by mathowie at 12:25 PM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


My experience of Tinder was:

50% young, attractive, apparently well-off urbanites using Tinder to either hook up with same or for strictly ironic purposes, who knows

50% people I'd already seen on OKC/PoF/whatever looking for LTRs

There was also a lot of "oh crap, I swiped the wrong way" with no takebacksies

In conclusion, Tinder: meh
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:32 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Note that I am not as in not saying people can't be offended if they find something personally hurtful. Maybe it's different when it's a gay thing? (hippybear help me out here). With most gay male hookups, or at least when looking for them e.g. Squirt/grindr/Scruff/etc, it's all about reducing someone to their physical characteristics--body type, cock size, whatever. It's essentially masturbation that happens to have another warm body present.

I've certainly found plenty of approaches in all varieties of hookup spaces offensive, from early USEnet to irc channels to cruising bars to parties to back alleys to craigslist to hookup apps. The offense nearly ALWAYS (for me) comes from the approach, and I think more often than not (in text-based media) is based on my mood instead of the actual words on the screen.

I can't speak to the gay vs straight thing. Hooking up in the str8 world is an opaque process to me and seems to be fairly fraught with cross-purpose intentions and desired outcomes. It's possible that men who want to hook up with men are finding something that rhymes more easily, or something.

I tend to be more of a "chat for a while then make the approach" sort of hookup person these days. Doesn't mean I don't respond to the aggressive "let's get off and never see each other again" approach, but I do find it less appealing than I did 10-15 years ago.

And yeah, those kinds of hookups, they are essentially masturbation that involves another person.
posted by hippybear at 12:33 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


So let's say a fellow wants to use a service for casual encounters. He's reasonably smart and tries to be sensitive, so he knows how to avoid bigoted, objectifying language. What's the best way for him to broach the initial subject of "Hey, you're cute, wanna bang?" without coming across like a m'lady/fedora type of creeper?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but casual hookups aren't really much about gaining a connection with another person as a person. You can respect the other person, sure, but the primary interest is "are you my kind of pretty and will I enjoy getting sticky with you" not "you are an interesting human being and I would like to be naked with you," for the most part.

Speaking as an Asian woman, the problem is the othering, as Dysk pointed out. I could potentially enjoy a casual hookup with a guy who, I don't know, is a techbro or something, but I'm not gonna reward "Ooh, I've never been with an Asian before" with access to my orifices. And for what it's worth, my gay Asian friends also seem to struggle with this, so I don't think it's a "straight thing."
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


I can relate all too well with this. Being a transguy in a 'kink' community mostly consisting of self-identified gay/bisexual cismen, it's been a rather eye-opening experience to be treated as though I exist solely for this community of confused guys to figure out whether they are 'gay' or 'straight' (ie: like vagina, to put it bluntly). Many also make the assumption that this is something I'm eager to do-- to be the token vagina in their, otherwise dick-filled, casual sex repertoire. What's interesting is that this assumption seems to exist whether I'm actively looking to hook up or not; my simply being part of the community is enough to get these unsolicited propositions. The prevailing view, in my experience, seems to be that transguys are seen as a great way for misogynistic cisdudes (of all orientations) to experience having sex with a vagina, without having to deal with 'crazy' or 'icky' girls.

What sucks is that if you don't display interest in their casual sex, you're shamed and harassed for not being a 'real' guy (because 'real' guys would be down for that, or I've been told). You can't win.
posted by stubbehtail at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


I turned Tinder on for the first time in months because it came up in a bar conversations. It's not for me, because I'm not interested in hookups (because I don't think it suits me and what I want, not because I think they're bad). But Tinder is for hookups. Everything about the UI says "Make a quick judgment about this person based on their cover photo!" Hell, trying to look at other photos, if you're not careful you can accidentally swipe one way or the other without intending to. I'm kind of a fuddy-duddy when it comes to this, but I hate communicating with my thumbs, so while I've been on a few dates and coffee dates from it, it was about very quickly trying to move the conversation over to email. It's hard to get a sense of a person from a few FB pics and a few words. Most people don't even have anything written in their profile, or if they do it's meaningless crap (I like to travel, I work hard play hard, etc), because obviously no one reads this stuff. Because the app is set up to deprioritize it.
posted by X-Himy at 12:44 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


And for what it's worth, my gay Asian friends also seem to struggle with this, so I don't think it's a "straight thing."

Oh yeah, there's a huge amount of fetishizing of Asian men in the gay world, no question. I guess I was trying to tease out the difference between genuine attraction/curiosity and fetishization/othering.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let's be perfectly clear: Tinder is HotOrNot turned into a dating app (with all of the negative trappings that this implies)
posted by schmod at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I guess I was trying to tease out the difference between genuine attraction/curiosity and fetishization/othering.

I have a pretty strong thing for beards, and I find it difficult to tease out for myself whether I'm actually interested in the guy or just think they look awesome with their beard.

At some point, it comes down to actually meeting the person and seeing who they are behind the photo and facial hair. There are more guys on the planet that I think are hawt than there are guys on the planet that I actually want to know.
posted by hippybear at 12:51 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thank you for bringing that up. I feel bad for not explicitly mentioning that as someone who gets passed most of the time (especially in carefully-chosen photos) I have a very different experience than other trans women. I can't speak to that experience, but I'm sure the Guardian would absolutely be interested in a piece about it, especially in response to mine. They accept pitches from anyone.

Totally wasn't trying to have a go at you or anything! I enjoyed the article. I'm not really much of a writer, and I don't really feel like I have anything to broadcast to the world particularly, so I'll give the Guardian a miss, probably.
posted by Dysk at 12:53 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've never used Tinder, and am now happily married, but as a trans woman this brings out flashbacks of all the creepy people I dealt with and subjected myself while trying to figure out how to "date while being trans".

Chasers fetishize trans women in much the same really gross way some people do Asian women (not at all like having a preference, e.g., for blondes). It's creepy, othering, and reduces a person to an object. Not to mention, most* trans women really don't want to be reminded they have the parts that chasers are fetishizing, so it can in fact, be even more psychologically traumatizing.

*certainly not all.
posted by polywomp at 12:55 PM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


Its gonna take a while to sort out the issues that come with the more fluid sexuality that we have now. In a few years it will all be old hat, but things will get better.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Its gonna take a while to sort out the issues that come with the more fluid sexuality that we have now. In a few years it will all be old hat, but things will get better.

I don't share your optimism, mostly because none of this is actually new at all, it's just beginning to be talked about at all. Hell, homosexuality has been a recognised Thing for a good long while now, and remind me again about how the universal acceptance of that is going?
posted by Dysk at 1:06 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


“Tranny chasers”, as they are sometimes called, present transgender men and women with a dilemma. It can be hard for us to find sexual or romantic partners in general, especially early in transition, because of our social status as outcasts. Fetishists give us a chance at connection, but at the cost of being objectified and valued solely for kink factor.

I must not be using the right search terms because it's not coming up, but this paragraph in the FPP article reminds me of an FPP from a while back about the guys who fetishize big women (aka chubby chasers, in the language quoted in that paragraph), creating the same ambiguous tension between connection and objectification.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2014


Better than it was 10-20-30 years ago.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


remind me again about how the universal acceptance of that is going?

In the US, homosexuality is ok in marriage in 2/3 of the states, which seems like a huge leap forward to acceptance, where "acceptance" means over 50% of the places in the country you can live you can be legally married.
posted by mathowie at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't share your optimism, mostly because none of this is actually new at all, it's just beginning to be talked about at all.

I don't know how many 20somethings you hang out with, but I seem to have a lot of contact with them these days, and the gender-fluidity and sexuality don't-give-a-fuck I've encountered is enough to nearly be alienating for a graybeard like me. Things truly are changing, but it's happening as the young age in and the old age out, not because the old have changed their minds.
posted by hippybear at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


In the US, homosexuality is ok in marriage in 2/3 of the states, which seems like a huge leap forward to acceptance, where "acceptance" means over 50% of the places in the country you can live you can be legally married.

Legal rights are not the same as social acceptance. There's enough horror going on still, even in the US, where LGBT issues are involved that it's very obvious that acceptance is still a major issue, even while legal status becomes more and more codified.
posted by hippybear at 1:13 PM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


Hell, homosexuality has been a recognised Thing for a good long while now, and remind me again about how the universal acceptance of that is going?
It's going in the right direction in most places, for sure. In many countries, gay people can get married and adopt kids. In many places, it's illegal to discriminate against gays in housing or employment. It's no longer illegal to have gay sex in the US. We have massive gay-rights rallies in the nation's capital. Hell, I was on the front page of Reddit holding a pro-gay-marriage sign, and I kept my job. Yup, "it's very obvious that acceptance is still a major issue," no question. But it's indisputably better than it used to be.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:15 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Right, but 'going in the right direction' after all these decades (if not centuries) hardly imbues me with hope that 'new' fluid sexualities will be "old hat in a few years".

And yay, it's legally codified in half of states in the US! And not at all in the other half, and lets not even speak about for example the Middle East, or the gulf between legalised marriage and social acceptance.

We may be novel to you, but trans people are not a new thing. Sure, things are getting better, but the pace of that change is glacial - it will not be a Solved Problem in a matter of a few years.
posted by Dysk at 1:23 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I transitioned about 21 years ago, am very passable and have been led to believe that I'm attractive, and during that time I've probably only had a handful of dates, and none have ever gotten to the point of sex as when I've disclosed, they've just dropped me (often in a cowardly way). Family members and friends who have known about me in the past have encouraged me to go out with "tranny chasers" so I could have at least experience something, which I have always recoiled at, for all the reasons above. But if I were to be honest, sometimes I wish I hadn't as at least that might have given me some sort of companionship and saved at least some heartache. Now I'm just a serially single, relationship-shy, virgin female in her early 40s which just adds to my undesirability in this society. I'm sure friends wonder or make up their own narratives as to why I never seem to have a boyfriend around.

Honestly, I think I more or less have just given up on finding anyone, and it's pretty sad... but maybe that would be different if I took the chance on having tranny chaser "tranning wheels" as it were.
posted by BecauseIHadFiveDollars at 1:42 PM on December 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


I guess I was trying to tease out the difference between genuine attraction/curiosity and fetishization/othering.

This is an interesting question, and the best I can come up with is that the fetishization involves an element of wrongness, and drawing conclusions. A big cock is a big cock and everyone knows what you're expected to do with it, but (using my example again since I can't speak for trans women, although I think something similar is going on with them) the guy who says "ooh, never been with an Asian" could be expecting anything from a cultural lesson to submissiveness to a sideways vagina. The fetishized thing becomes a symbol of something else, something that the person who is being fetishized cannot or does not want to offer.

Relevant comic: Guys You Meet While Dating Online as a Trans Woman.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:51 PM on December 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


everyone knows what you're expected to do with it

*when engaging in casual Internet hookups
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:54 PM on December 12, 2014


What does searching the web for sexual partners, have to do with dignity?
Like it or not, people are looking for a trigger, for pleasure, when they specifically look for sex on the web, or anywhere.


This attitude is frankly gross. It IS possible to have one-time dirty filthy sex with a relative stranger and NOT be a gigantic asswipe about it. It's called basic human decency, and even us nasty sluts are capable of it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:56 PM on December 12, 2014 [52 favorites]


I don't share your optimism, mostly because none of this is actually new at all, it's just beginning to be talked about at all. Hell, homosexuality has been a recognised Thing for a good long while now, and remind me again about how the universal acceptance of that is going?

transitioning from one gender to another is waaaay new. hormone therapy is way new.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:56 PM on December 12, 2014


transitioning from one gender to another is waaaay new.

Surgically, yes, but trans people have been transitioning pretty much forever. Surgery is not a requirement for being trans or transitioning.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


Surgical transition is hardly way new. There's a good seventy years of history there, at least.
posted by Dysk at 2:28 PM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Buy Avery's ebook
posted by SassHat at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'd still call it new, since it's only been around for a tiny fraction of the time people have been around.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:32 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's sure not 'now that it's here it'll be fine in a few years!' new, by any stretch. And yeah, as pointed out above, trans people way predate surgical transition.
posted by Dysk at 2:40 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Since according to Wikipedia surgical castration goes back to ancient Sumeria and was very broadly practiced, are we sure that voluntary surgical operations intending to achieve what we would call transition only date back to the 20th century? (I'm seriously asking, I've never explored the question before.)
posted by XMLicious at 2:51 PM on December 12, 2014


Yeah, I'm only talking about comparatively modern vaginoplasty.
posted by Dysk at 2:56 PM on December 12, 2014


It's possible to have casual sex without being objectified or fetishized in the process, and an app doesn't suddenly change this.

wcfields: "Uh, do these women not understand what the app is? A polished, more attractive version of Craigslist casual encounters?

I'm against harassment and degradation, but c'mon. If you're gluten intolerant then maybe the Flour Emporium, Wheat City, and Breadco aren't the stores for you.
"

This sounds a lot like "if she didn't want to get catcalled, then maybe she shouldn't have been walking around that part of town."
posted by yaymukund at 3:00 PM on December 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


This sounds a lot like "if she didn't want to get catcalled, then maybe she shouldn't have been walking around that part of town."

Yeah, it's the vicious cycle -- you can avoid that part of town, and thereby avoid catcalls (well, some catcalls), but that seriously limits your ability to find partners -- whether for friendship, relationship, casual sex, or whatever. The more out of the mainstream you get, the harder making those connections are and the more you have to expose yourself to danger (physical and/or emotional) for a chance at whatever happiness you are looking for (and, as you get older, that adds a whole new layer of rejection and difficulty to the mix). And that's an awful decision to have to make -- do I sit home (or stay off dating/hookup sites) and feel like a loser or do I get armored up and try, once more, to make that connection?

For my part, I liked the piece -- smart, honest, long enough to really give a sense of the frustration and the stakes of trying leavened with a bit of humor and self-reflection to keep it from being an exercise in self-pity. We all have our own sorrows; if someone is open enough to describe theirs, I don't think we need to respond with snark and "here's what you should have done."
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:49 PM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Transness new? "Passing women" (ppl assigned female at birth who present as male socially) are known back to pre-history and across scores or hundreds of societies on every contiment! They were well known even among 1960s-1970s lesbian feminist. biological essentialists (many of whom would be called TERFS trans-excluding radical feminists these days); I was assigned reading about passing women in college in the early 1980s.
posted by Dreidl at 3:52 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd still call it new, since it's only been around for a tiny fraction of the time people have been around.

Come on, when was the last time you called cars "waaaay new"? Don't try and hide behind the length of human history when you say something obnoxious.
posted by hoyland at 3:55 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wait, what? Obnoxious? It's 'obnoxious' to say that, while transness is as old as humanity, SRS is relatively new? Why? I am baffled.

And, yes, when talking about long-term changing in society, I would refer to cars as 'new'.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:02 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


One of the things about tinder that bugs me, and maybe it's part of why I've never used Tinder, is that it doesn't have any community function. There is no way to build consensus on issues and change the way people structure their interactions, or at least not one built into the app. There may be a (presumably opaque) reporting feature for bad behavior, but still, that let's the company set the standard.

I think, in terms of othering, the dividing line for me is when a person is seen as outside of the norm, as opposed to part of a larger set of "people whom you are attracted to" which may vary in interesting ways. I don't know that I consider being attracted to people who are trans or genderqueer in part because of their gender itself as problematic, as long as they are people first. I feel much the same way about cis straight men liking cis straight women... it's fine if they see women as people, but if they are just a fetish or orfice, that's offensive. However I am not fully satisfied with that.

In and of itself physical attractiveness, the idea that you desire a person more because of aspects beyond their explicit control, strikes me as wrong. I recall a sci-fi story where people had their brain's messed with to turn off their ability to recognize attractiveness, and I can't help but wonder if that might not be the more ethical choice.
posted by gryftir at 4:07 PM on December 12, 2014


And, yes, when talking about long-term changing in society, I would refer to cars as 'new'.

I've been reading (well, actually listening to the audiobook for) Thomas Pynchon's Against The Day, and the main plot of the novel seems be exactly about the major changes in society that were taking place around 100 years ago, between the Chicago Columbian Exhibition and the end of WWI, when basically everything about science, industry, mysticism, social morés, and what is considered "civilized" changed remarkably in a time-frame that lasted less than a generation.

Yes, cars are new. As are airplanes, the debunking of spiritualism, the rejection of "snake oil" as potential cures, and several branches of mathematics. To say the least, the last 100 years or so has been nothing but a constant introduction of The New.

The experience of this novel has done nothing but underscore to me exactly how new everything we currently live with actually is. And while I don't believe trans people are new in human society, the options available to them are. That we're only just now starting to incorporate them into some kind of modern consciousness of the normal instead of regarding them as outliers and freaks is even newer, and I think is a welcome development.
posted by hippybear at 4:11 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


this is OKC, but when I was on it I proclaimed my status as a wheelchair user. i'd periodically get excited messages from devotees (people who are sexually excited by people who are mobility impaired/amputees). Like, messages from other countries. It's like these people were Indiana Jones and were all its time for Raiders of the Lost Cripple!

Not a turn on. Maybe I just got my fill of depersonalizing sex in the nineties.
posted by angrycat at 4:24 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I recall a sci-fi story where people had their brain's messed with to turn off their ability to recognize attractiveness, and I can't help but wonder if that might not be the more ethical choice.

If anyone is interested in that story, it's almost certainly "Liking What You See: A Documentary" by Ted Chiang collected in Stories of Your Life and Others.
posted by foxfirefey at 4:29 PM on December 12, 2014


MetaFilter: Maybe I just got my fill of depersonalizing sex in the nineties.
posted by hippybear at 4:34 PM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yep, my wife and I are both on OKC (though neither of us logs in much anymore). We're both trans, but our experiences there have been waaay different. As a trans guy, I'm mostly ignored. As a trans woman, she has to set her profile to seeking women only, because if men can check it out, woo: out come the hordes of chasers, sending terse, blunt, fetishizing requests for sex and/or asking for photos of her genitalia.

There was one time that some cis gay guy started messaging me urgently, because, he explained, he was really into tiny dicks, and wanted to know alllll about mine (er, no). And there's a particular kind of cis lesbian who chases trans men because she frames us as some sort of hyperbutch women. But generally, we trans guys have nothing on the experience of trans women with sexual fetishization.
posted by DrMew at 4:41 PM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


As a trans woman, she has to set her profile to seeking women only, because if men can check it out, woo: out come the hordes of chasers, sending terse, blunt, fetishizing requests for sex and/or asking for photos of her genitalia.

I had a flickr account once, which I used mainly to host a few personal shots and some random crap. I accepted a few friend requests from people I knew personally and, long story short, the OH GOD LOOK A TRANS WOMAN EXISTING effect led to me getting a constant stream of a) requests to put random headshots in "sexiest t-girl" groups, b) variably aggressive "date me because no-one else will want you" messages, and c) penises.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:58 PM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I dunno about all this talk of newness and oldness. Is the ancientness of trans experience supposed to make someone in the present day feel better about rejection? Is the newness of today's hormone and surgery options (with their attendant risks and problems) supposed to make people say "hey, I'm having a hard time, but it will probably be much less of a deal in a generation or two when the current situation has shaken out and I'll be old or dead?" Loneliness is real right now, and the nights are long and cold, and, honestly, none of this is easy for anyone, but some people have a much harder time than others. In the end, right now is the only time we have, and while a bit of long time perspective can be helpful, it's not usually what anyone wants on a Friday night.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:58 PM on December 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


It was sparked by the rather bizarre assertion that these 'new' fluid sexualities are a problem now, but will be all old hat on a few years. It was misguided on a whole host of levels, some of which have been more extensively taken to task in the thread than others.
posted by Dysk at 5:23 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


To second SassHat, buy her book. I'm trying to find the right way to explain why you should, but basically please do because she will probably write more if you do, and I want to read more.
posted by edd at 6:23 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


one of the differences between "i like beards" and gross fetishizers are the extra assumptions. i like beards. i love the look of them, the feel of them, i love the way that the hair gives way at the cheeks leaving soft skin with a few stray hairs. my affinity for liking people with beards isn't because i want them to chop down the trees on my property, make their own buckshots, and give me their old flannels to make a quilt with. i'm not making assumptions about them as people - my attraction is based on the thing i'm saying i'm attracted to and nothing more.

with those who seek others out for a fetish (asian, trans, etc), as sunset in snow country points out, they are looking for what they think is being indicated by whatever status it is they're chasing - i'm not going to go down a laundry list because those things are gross and hurtful and i don't want our trans members to read another well meaning mostly cis person use their pain to prove a point - but it's not just the surface things - it's things they're assuming - that's what makes it gross. and if you're targeted for this type of fetishizing, it's very obvious and very different than people seeking out quick hookups based on superficial criteria.
posted by nadawi at 7:49 PM on December 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


...all this talk of newness and oldness. Is the ancientness of trans experience supposed to make someone in the present day feel better about rejection? Is the newness of today's hormone and surgery options (with their attendant risks and problems) supposed to make people say...
GenjiandProust


For the same reasons one should know any relevant history. As Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes".
For QUILTBAG and other groups with multiple societal oppression frames, knowing people such as oneself have always existed and were not always treated badly, is to know the possibilities for change. I could not be the activist I am if I didn't have the the certain, factual knowledge that "the (painful) way things are" is not the way things always were, or the way things will always be.
And here we all are, living in my QUILTBAG activist's future - and some other QUILTBAGs-to-be's history!
posted by Dreidl at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've seen both trans women and (a much much smaller number of) trans men on Grindr. I've always kinda wondered what their experience was.

Maybe I should say hi.
posted by PMdixon at 10:39 PM on December 12, 2014


I dunno about all this talk of newness and oldness. Is the ancientness of trans experience supposed to make someone in the present day feel better about rejection? Is the newness of today's hormone and surgery options (with their attendant risks and problems) supposed to make people say "hey, I'm having a hard time, but it will probably be much less of a deal in a generation or two when the current situation has shaken out and I'll be old or dead?"

I'm pretty sure the original comment about 'newness' was suggesting that trans people should suck it up and be fetishised and treated badly because being trans is this new-fangled thing society has to have time to adjust to.
posted by hoyland at 5:53 AM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the original comment about 'newness' was suggesting that trans people should suck it up and be fetishised and treated badly because being trans is this new-fangled thing society has to have time to adjust to.

Yeah, and it was a thoughtless comment that could have been avoided by RTFA and engaging with what is there, and I get why people wanted to push back against it*, but I think it is a derail (perhaps less so than the predictable "what did she expect?" comments that I have sadly come to expect in threads like these, but, still). I'm sad that we are presented with a thoughtful piece about one person's particular dating experiences (and what that says about the wider society in which we live and fetishization and attraction and self-worth and being a trans woman), and what we decided to talk about was where do trans issues fit in a vague historical narrative. So, as Marx might say, "People make their own dating history, but not in circumstances of their own making," but I still think we'd be better off discussing the article, you know?

* My favorite "It Gets Better" video is Hal Duncan's, where he points out that, if he went back to his 16 year old self and said "It gets better," his response would be "Yeah? Fuckin' when?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:17 AM on December 13, 2014


Just to be clear -- I totally support trans members pushing back on comments they find slighting; the fault lies in the original comment. Please don't read any of that as "why can't you all be nice?" Which, you know, fuck that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:21 AM on December 13, 2014


nadawi covered some of what I was going to say, but I also wanted to add that beards are not an intrinsic part of someone's identity. You can't stop being Asian, or trans (although some people can hide it). And people with beards - as far as I know - have not been oppressed as a group, or subjected to violence just because they have a beard. I think it's a ridiculous and offensive comparison, to be honest.
posted by desjardins at 1:15 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's a ridiculous and offensive comparison, to be honest.

But the reason for the comparison was to show that those two things are NOT the same.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:14 PM on December 13, 2014


Most of the time I wanted a middle "eh, they seem really nice!" option because rejection felt gross.
posted by mathowie at 7:25 on December 13 [7 favorites +] [!]


You are falling right into the pickup artist's trap!

When in doubt, throw it out.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:35 PM on December 13, 2014


well, as far as trans being new old or whatever, we all must be aware the US'ian western attitudes on gender are what is "new" here my friends, don't think for a minute that the colonial european gender constructs are the only game in town now...
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:36 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


With these guys chasing trans women - what is it about? I know the stereotype is homophobic het guys who have secret gay leanings who want someone who presents as a lady but secretly has the penis they want. But is that real or just another stereotype? Is this something that can be knocked out by curing homophobia or is it a separate entity?
posted by corb at 9:45 AM on December 14, 2014


i dated a guy who fetishized trans women and for him it was a whole bunch of destructive low self esteem, only some of which was related to ingrained self-hating homophobia (even though when we were together he was openly bisexual). his sibling later came out as a trans woman and i've always wondered how their relationship fared.
posted by nadawi at 9:53 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm a trans woman who maybe-sorta-kinda fetishized trans women before her transition. Watched porn exclusively with trans* actresses in them—maybe my fantasized self-insertion into those scenes helped with gender dysphoria, I don't know—but I never really 'chased' them outside of porn. Maybe I felt they were unicorns or something, so I never went looking for anything with a trans woman. (At least, not until well into my transition, when I started sleeping with people in my trans support group and what not—but that's a whole other matter I suppose.)
posted by sokkupapetto at 1:39 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know 3 guys who sought out trans women to date (I'm not sure if it rose to the level of a fetish; they've dated cis women as well). One was bisexual and saw pre/non-op trans women as "the best of both worlds." One had a crossdressing fetish and I think maybe saw trans women as the logical endpoint of that? (I don't believe that to be correct, but I think that's where he was coming from.) The third was just flat-out kinky in all sorts of ways, and I can't be sure, but it seems like trans is like a kink to him.

None of these guys had trouble finding partners (it probably helped that two of three are very handsome and charming), so perhaps they're not as creepy/objectionable to trans women as they might appear from my outside perspective.
posted by desjardins at 1:41 PM on December 14, 2014


None of these guys had trouble finding partners (it probably helped that two of three are very handsome and charming), so perhaps they're not as creepy/objectionable to trans women as they might appear from my outside perspective.

Self-esteem issues and trouble finding partners are both super common amongst trans people, so trans people sleeping or partnering with chasers is not necessarily indication that they aren't objectionable. Though of course, trans people only have being trans in common, and you'll find every opinion you can think of on any matter represented in the trans community.
posted by Dysk at 3:29 PM on December 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


well, until very recently I felt totally disposable. Because well, every girl I was with/dated traded me in for a cute boy the first chance they got.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:26 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


the things you say
The earlier embarrassment I had just walked away from decided that we should be reacquainted. What was so wrong with being transsexual that she didn’t want to associate me with it? What was wrong with me? I wanted to correct her, to tell her that I was transsexual, but her words had left me so unsure of myself that I couldn’t respond. I was angry, scared, and frustrated. I hated what I was feeling; it was so against everything I believe. I love who I am, I am confident in who I am, I believe in who I am. Emotions are hard, and I couldn’t walk away from those negative feelings.
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 8:08 AM on January 9, 2015


« Older Songs We Love   |   How Fun Works (3rd edition, revised) Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments