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What’s Behind Transsexual Attraction?

A trans woman wants to know what kind of men watch "T-girl" porn. Are they the same ones who bash her in real life?

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Out of their sample, 55 percent said their ideal sexual partner would be a woman and 36 percent preferred a transwoman. “The interest in trans women appears to be a distinct sexual interest separate from heterosexual men’s attraction to women for the majority of men, but there is a substantial minority who may experience it as their sexual orientation,” Hsu says. “That is, their sexual attraction to trans women is the central part of their sexuality and not a secondary interest.” These are the “genuine fetishists” that Harris writes about. Interestingly, the researchers also found that “men who are sexually attracted to trans women also reported, on average, higher sexual arousal from imagining themselves as women than heterosexual males without this interest,” says Hsu — and yet most had never cross-dressed.

There are plenty of theories about where a dominant interest in trans women comes from, but none have been proven. Hsu runs through some of these — “earlier and more frequent masturbation reinforcing whatever random flotsam gets into fantasy early in life,” “accidental byproduct of a cognitively complex species that can visualize and fantasize about social relationships,” and so on — but ultimately argues, “All these theories are explanations of why kinks develop, not why particular kinks develop. That is probably just random. Psychodynamic explanations abound but without any evidence.”

It’s also true that attempts to “diagnose” attraction to transsexuals can be unfortunately stigmatizing and pathologizing. Trans activists like Julia Serano have  written extensively about the problems with viewing such attractions as a fetish: “This is extremely invalidating, as it insinuates that we cannot be loved or appreciated as whole people, but rather only as ‘fetish objects.’” Similarly, Sass of the blog Transpinay Rising,  writes, “The question shouldn’t be why these men are attracted to us, but why is society forcing us to justify this attraction in the first place. I feel the question arises because people have already pre-judged that being sexually or romantically attracted to people like me is perverted and immoral.” Also, keep in mind that what limited studies have been done on this topic have often focused on men who are in one way or another actively seeking out M2F transsexuals — via online personals, for example. This doesn’t account for men who might find individual trans women attractive for reasons other than their specific gender identity.

Your question isn’t so much “Am I normal?” but rather “Are those guys who are attracted to me normal?” Well, they’re certainly common, judging from the wild popularity of T-girl sites, which cannot merely be explained by people’s passing curiosity. This wouldn’t be the first time that the world of online porn proved that “normal” is rarely what we think it is.

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