Transgender people exist. Now we, the cisgender mainstream, know. Cher’s sonand R. Kelly’s sonAmerica’s highest-paid woman CEONetflix’s most-watched original series and the cover of Time told us so.

What many of us fail to fully comprehend is that transgender people are not some sort of über-gay creatures. Though the intellectual and factual lines between gender identity and sexual orientation are thin (sometimes they are not even there, as some transgender people are indeed gay), they are separate things. Trans people who are LGB are not so because they are T but in addition to being T. They belong to the LGBT community twice, and for different reasons. This “Transgender 101” introduction may seem pretty obvious, yet intimate understanding is not, both for the general population and within LGBT communities.

For the sake of conserving brain power, let’s focus on only two identity categories: gay cisgender men and gay transgender men. The first group is made of men who were considered males at birth, were raised as boys, identify as men and are attracted to other men. The second group is made of men who were considered females at birth, were probably raised as girls, identify as men and are attracted to other men. Assuming the transgender men in this example already transitioned either by presenting as men, undergoing medical treatments or a combination of both, if these two groups stood in front of us today, they would be generally indistinguishable.

Still basic and pretty straightforward, right? Wrong. It isn’t for many. In February 2014 Queerty, the online magazine and newspaper focusing on gay topics, ran a piece titled “Seriously Sexy Trans Men Make Us Say ‘Mmmm!’" What’s interesting and horrid about the article? The comment section, where all hell broke loose. Now, I know that online anonymity can be a magnet for the worst in people, yet most of the comments were not evil in nature but displayed the pervasive lack of understanding of transgender identities within the gay community. The article showed a few pictures of transgender men described as the sexiest on the Internet. A few comments were sweet, while others demonstrated candid ignorance. User "iltman" found these men sexy and pondered whether that makes him bisexual, while "EdWoody" wondered if, in his case, that means he likes feminine faces. Some users got all surgical (pun intended). "QJ201" thinks "top surgery really needs improvement." Lastly, some comments ranged from pretentious to insulting, like the comment by "Mel," who wrote, "Good luck to them but they have female DNA in every cell of their body," or the comment by "DShucking," who thinks those men were and are still female.

When I switched to offline conversation, things didn’t get better. I asked gay men whether they had dated or had sex with trans guys, or if they would. I spoke to transgender men about experiences of acceptance and rejection. These conversations were more relaxed, sensitive and intellectually stimulating, but some of the ignorance and close-mindedness persisted.

Many gay men I talked to would not date transgender men, primarily because they feel like something would be missing. Making assumptions, they seem to be awfully concerned with the presence, shape and appearance of genitals. Those who enthusiastically entertained the idea of hooking up with transgender men always described it in the context of sexual adventures, like, say, having sex in public, participating in group role-play scenes or trying bondage. Other men, including otherwise brilliant men, couldn’t even grasp the question.

My friend Peter is a good example. He looked quite puzzled at the Rusty Knot on the West End Highway as the gender bender crowd danced to jams from the ’70s. Peter’s choice of words was sensitive. He didn’t screw up pronouns. It was the content of his observations that showed the intellectual abyss. My initial question — “Would you date a trans man?” — didn’t even find the basis to make sense to him. Peter said:

No! I wouldn’t date them, I think. This is what I don’t get: Why would you go through all that pain, through medical treatments and possible harassment to become a man if you are into other dudes? Wouldn’t it be easier to just be a female and hook up with all the hot straight guys?

Exactly why, Peter?

After these conversations, I wasn’t surprised to listen to transgender gay men’s narratives of rejection. What amazed me was their patience and ability to rationalize frequent dismissals. J., a bisexual trans man from New York, described his experience through jokes:

It can get complicated. Imagine someone trying to assemble an IKEA bed frame with no instructions. Excitement, then confusion. I figure some people are not ready to renegotiate their identity.

For J. being turned down by men is not a problem. Mentioning activist Angela Devis, he says he finds himself attracted to people who are willing to break barriers and be bold. Hesitant guys don’t attract him to begin with. He doesn’t feel like he’s missing out. He explains:

There will usually be some wonderfully charming, strapping man ready to enjoy the spectrum of gender positions with me.

Brandon from Brooklyn shed a positive light on alternative gay cultures. He told me that while in the larger gay male community guys tend to be rather dismissive of, turned-off by or rude toward transgender men who have sex with men, his experience has been different in certain subgroups:

I have found that the leather/BDSM community, the bear community, and the HIV-positive community (often overlapping) have been much more open to transgender men who have sex with men. There are several reasons for this. All these communities face additional discrimination from both the general population and within queer communities; therefore there is a much greater tolerance of what is “different,” “taboo,” etc. They are more open to different bodies and identities.

Quinn from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, offered an understanding point of view about those gay men who pushed him away:

I have been rejected multiple times by cis gay men. It feels horrible, every time. Their reactions have ranged to simply walking off without saying a word to outright verbal disgust. I was being rejected for being born differently. I was rejected, in my opinion, primarily out of fear. I’m not rejected because of my identity; I’m rejected because of their false assumptions about my body, my genitals, or the way I have sex. They see being attracted to trans men as a challenge or threat to their identity — both a threat to their masculinity and a threat to their homosexuality. If cisgender gay men were really open to the education, they’d realize many of their fears are unfounded mythology, and that there is no reason to be afraid or opposed to a trans man as a lover or boyfriend.

So what’s the point? There isn’t one, just follow-up questions, one observation as old as time and one opinion.

The questions: What exactly makes a man attracted to another man? How much attraction has to do with their penises? And, opening the discussion to multiple identities, what makes people attracted to females? Is it ultimately their vaginas? Or does it go deeper, all the way to the ovaries? Would a neovagina suffice? Would cisgender females without ovaries be excluded? And, ultimately, why is it so easy to make assumption about transgender people’s genitals? Or better, why does it seem that we cannot get past the curiosity about their sexual organs? What is it that makes us gay or straight? What is it that makes us men and women? Questions, questions. Alas, no definite answers.

The observation: Humans need to simplify complicated environments. Organizing the confusing world around us is life-sustaining. It makes sense, evolutionarily speaking. Categorize and compartmentalize: man and woman, gay and straight, black and white, conservative and liberal and so on. Humans don’t like in-betweens. In-betweens are difficult and confusing.

But nature doesn’t like categories. Biology generates diversified environments. In other words, biology is all about the in-betweens. Diversification is at the base of evolution and of human development. Diversity is life-sustaining too.

The opinion: Let’s bow down to diversity. Let’s open our minds to a few more categories and possibilities. We can do it, I’m sure.

Read the whole story… the dealings between the University and the Dept of Education to get this religious exemption so quickly are shady, to say the least.

Legal battles often come at a great burden resulting in little personal gain. Good for Jayce for following this through. 



SP: What’s the biggest trend you’re seeing when we’re talking about coming out?

The biggest trend that PFLAG is seeing though through our 350+ chapters across the country is more parents coming to PFLAG because their young child is trans, or is displaying or exhibiting behaviors that are considered gender non-conforming.

In fact, this is largest growth factor across our entire chapter network from our very urban areas like NYC, DC, LA and our more rural communities like Ames, and Omaha and Tampa.

And more adult people who are transgender are finding PFLAG as a place to build community and to build family.

SP: How is coming out different for a trans person than a gay or lesbian one?

Coming out as trans might feel like it was for us 25+ years ago. Very foreign and very scary, with few reference points as role models.

I even hear this within the LGBQ community that they have few if any personal contact with people who are trans.

I was just at the White House recently and saw Laverne Cox, who is a great role model for many people who are trans. Every time I see her, I thank her for putting herself out there as a role model for younger people.

SP: Speaking of people being younger to come out, what’s your advice on whether they should use social media services like Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

Coming out through social media undoubtedly feels “safer” to a young person who is finally able to express who s/he really is. But there are so many dangers in doing so that we advise young people to think through the potential consequences of sharing themselves in such a public way.

Social media is a great way to communicate, and we can use it to share very personal aspects of our lives. I have lots of nieces and nephews and I live far from them but I get to read about and see photos of their expanding families. Still, we advise much caution in coming out through social media given the reality of cyber bullying.
Today, people are coming out as LGBTQ at a much younger age. The context for their coming is very different, thanks to the many good changes that have been occurring.

However, the sad reality is that for every positive story we hear through PFLAG of a child’s coming to their family, we also hear the stories of rejection, the stories of bullying at school.

Young people are still running away from home, or worse, kicked out of their homes by their families, because they are trying to live honestly and authentically as LGBTQ.

So yes, it’s definitely easier than it was for you and for me, but there is still so much more work to be done to truly create a world where young people can be all that they are, and be loved and accepted and celebrated for who they are.

Visibility of LGBT characters on TV is growing.

The proposed concept of gender identity and definitions of related terms sets out definitions to help develop a consistent way of measuring and using gender identity data. It was developed by Statistics NZ in consultation with other government agencies, with advice from the Human Rights Commission.

The objective is to encourage central government agencies to move towards a standardised approach, but the resulting statistical standard will not make collecting gender identity information mandatory.

We recognise there is no universally accepted definition of the concept of gender identity and its related terms. The project to develop a statistical standard for gender identity aims to enable a shared understanding of this complex topic.

Read more on New Zealand’s initiative to ask the community before setting standards for gathering gender statistics. 

Aveed is a new prescription medicine indicated to produce serum testosterone levels in the normal range by administration of a single 3-mL (750 mg) intramuscular injection given once at initiation of therapy, at 4 weeks, and then every 10 weeks thereafter. It is expected to be available in early March.

This type of injectable testosterone has actually been available in other countries for quite some time. It’s more convenient since you get a shot only every 3 months. People I know who have taken it have been very satisfied.