Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ruling out sexual relationships with transsexuals is not bigotry

Someone on my Facebook feed recently argued that an unwillingness to even consider having a transsexual romantic partner amounted to transphobic bigotry.  This was my response to them.

To give you the benefit of the doubt, I will assume the strongest version of your argument: that it would be bigoted to terminate a relationship you had already begun, with someone you found PERFECT IN EVERY OTHER WAY, solely because you learned that they are transsexual.  This is what you’re saying, right?

If so, my question to you is this: why is transsexualism morally distinct from any other factor that people commonly identify as “deal-breakers” in relationships?  And if it isn’t any different, is it really bigotry to be more attracted to some characteristics in people than others?

If I recognize I would never marry or date somebody with severe, low-functioning autism, does that make me ableist? Is it immoral to be sapiosexual?  What if I am only attracted to short women?  What about gentlemen who prefer blondes?  What if someone was perfect in every way, but when I got their clothes off in the bedroom I noticed they had these horrible burn marks on their skin, which – sympathize with them though I may – were just an immediate turn off for me?

I know lots of people, of every race, who simply are not sexually attracted to members of another race.  I know black women who would never date a white, guy, white guys who would never date an Asian woman, and Asian men who strongly prefer Asian women.  Does this make them racist?

No. Not being sexually attracted to X does not amount to bigotry against X.  

Sexual attraction is such a fickle, subjective, idiosyncratic thing.  The smallest details about a person can shape whether we find them attractive, in different ways for different people. How they style their hair, how they dress, whether they cross their legs when they sit, whether they have freckles or “beauty marks”, how assertive they are when they speak – I could go on.  Tiny, tiny things matter even for people who don’t have a bigoted bone in their body.  And you’re telling me the fact that someone’s genitalia was artificially assembled by a skilled surgeon can’t possibly matter? That bigotry is the only explanation for making that a deal-breaker?  You’re saying the fact that somebody cannot biologically procreate should be irrelevant, because you can have a sperm donor, so a preference for birthing one’s own children = prejudice?

I’m no expert on the science behind this, but I know enough about how the MTF procedure works that even visualizing it would prevent me from enjoying sex with that person.  No amount of tolerance or privilege checking or “confronting my bigotry” will change this, and I guess that’s what I find most offensive about your position here: the idea that I could even control this.

For years, homosexuals have fought against the myth that their sexuality is a choice.  Progressives have rightfully insisted that nobody chooses who or what they are sexually attracted to – that gay people were “born this way” and needn’t feel ashamed of things they cannot control.  They won me over to their side of the gay marriage debate in part because that message resonated with me. I sure know I never made a choice about what I like, so I can only presume others don’t either.

By accusing anyone who is turned off by transsexualism of bigotry, you are completely reversing that stance: shaming people for their sexual preferences, as if they had any say in the matter.  You imply people presently repulsed by the thought of sex with a transsexual could instead choose to be aroused by it, if only they’d try hard enough to undo some sort of bigoted socialization that perverted their “true” desires.  That is nonsense. Just as bastardized interpretations of Christianity do not justify giving gay people “therapy” to “convert” them back to heterosexuality, neither does the increasingly cult-ish religion of egalitarianism justify trying to shame people into liking something their minds and bodies insist they don’t want to touch.

I have nothing against transsexual people.  I would hang out with them, befriend them, chat with them and invite them to my barbeque.  I am not afraid of them, and not “transphobic.”  But I have no desire at all to have a sexual relationship with one, and I will never feel the slightest bit guilty about that.  Equal rights does not mean they are entitled to my equal sexual desire or attention.

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