Where does the line between preference and fetish lie?
Photo by Charles Deluvio ???? on Unsplash
Many trans women are familiar with the idea of ?chasers? i.e. men (or women) with a fetish for chicks with dicks. We can see this in the popularity of trans porn where there is such a focus on our cocks, how big they are, ?bulges?, etc., etc. Most porn involving trans women seems to reduce us down to our genitals in the most objectifying and shallow way.
We also see the chaser phenomenon in online dating, where men want to hook up with trans women to experience cock but not necessarily to date us in the way they?d date a cis woman. We see this in bicurious men who want to use trans women as a testing ground to see if they really like cock before moving onto gay dating.
They want to experience us in the darkness of a hotel room but not hold our hand as we walk down the street. This is especially true if we don?t ?pass? perfectly aka look/sound exactly like non-trans women.
It?s pretty obvious that the chaser phenomenon is problematic. It reduces our identities and personhood to a fetish. It?s objectifying. It?s gross and all-around bad.
But what about men (or women) who are just attracted to trans women with penises in the way some people have a thing for people with freckles? Is it possible to have a preference for trans bodies in a way that is not necessarily problematic? Here?s where things get messy.
Many trans women have dysphoria about their penises and so the idea that a person would specifically enjoy that aspect of themselves is a good reason to avoid dating them. Which makes sense. But what if you don?t have bottom dysphoria and you?re quite fine with your parts? Personally, my penis doesn?t bother me all that much and on some days I positively like it and the aesthetic it gives my body.
In that sense then, knowing there are people out there who would not just tolerate my body but positively get a thrill out of it is a comforting thought. Because I would hate to be merely tolerated. I would hate to have a ?second-rate? body. I want someone to be enthralled with my body, not just ?deal? with it. I want to be lusted after.
But again, it comes back to the whole: would-you-take-me-out-in-public thing. Would you take me home to meet the family knowing I didn?t pass? Would you introduce me proudly to your friends? Would you fall in love with me and not be ashamed of your feelings? This is what matters.
And although it?s taboo to talk about in trans discourse, I get the sense that for many straight men, no matter how LGBT+ enlightened, there is going to be an internal tension when dating or having sex with trans women with penises. Which is why I tend to date people who are bisexual or pansexual, who, I think, tend to be more comfortable with the idea of dating someone regardless of what?s in their pants, to see them as a person first and not just a walking, talking set of genitals.
It?s OK to have genital preferences. Nobody is saying you have to like dick if you?re just not into dick. But this is why trans women are so cautious in the dating world: we want to (1) avoid chasers who see us as just a fetish bucket list item and (2) avoid people who are incapable of getting past our junk. And sadly, this whittles the dating pool down to a small proportion, leaving many straight trans women in a position where they end up dating other trans women rather than finding a man. t4t relationships are beautiful and perfectly valid on their own right and not at all a form of ?settling? but it can feel restrictive when you feel unable to date within the broader cis world.
So, in the end, where do we draw the line between a penis-preference and a penis-fetish? Arguably, it?s fuzzy. But however it?s drawn, it?s about seeing us as fully-fleshed-out people first, with needs, wants, dreams, hopes, and a desire to be respected. It?s OK to be specifically attracted to trans women with penises. But it?s not OK to be attracted to us just for that reason. We are more than an exotic doll with special lady bits. We are living breathing humans with actual personalities! Until you can appreciate that, you have no business dating us.