Issue 335

Sex Talk: Trans Fans

Girls will be boys, the old song says, and boys will be girls. That’s certainly true of transgendered people, folks who identify with a gender other than their original biological sex. Some transpeople go no further than dressing in the clothes of the “opposite” sex, while others take a medical route, using hormones and usually undergoing sex-reassignment surgery that may or may not include genital reconfiguration.

Once upon a time, male-to-females (also known as MTFs) were accused of being gay men who couldn’t deal with their desires, and so became straight women instead. But in this postmodern era, both gender and orientation are viewed as a lot more complex than that. From being an oddity, sex changers have increasingly joined the mainstream.
And transfolk—from obvious drag queens to full-fledged post-op transsexuals who can “pass”—have their fans. Says one gay genetic male into guy-identified guys, “I recently joined an online queer dating service, and I was surprised how many men on the site were looking to meet male-to-female transsexuals.”

One “she” who was born a “he” concurs. “I’ve been hit on by any number of trans chasers,” says she. “A goodly number of them are looking for chicks with equipment, gals who’ve had breast augmentation but not genital surgery. Which sort of makes sense, when you figure they’re looking for people who are obviously transgendered.” So does she mind being sought out for what she is, not who she is? “I don’t mind—if the fellow’s charming,” she smiles.

Transgenderism goes in the opposite direction, too, and in recent years, female-to-males (or FTMs) have become a lot more visible on the gay scene. Says one cute, bearded FTM, “I have no problem with queer bioguys finding me intriguing, as long as they don’t treat me like a science project. Like many transmen, I don’t have a surgically constructed penis, since I figure one wouldn’t work all that well. I’ve been with totally gay men who’ve never had sex with women, so they needed some extra guidance figuring out my plumbing. It’s like they’re losing their virginity all over again.”

As with other sexual attractions, it can be a thin line between welcome appreciation and dehumanizing fetishization. An older FTM points out, “There are a lot of transmen out there, particularly younger ones, who get really upset if they suspect they’re being sexually objectified. That seems a bit weird to me, since one big worry for most guys who are transitioning is that people won’t want to have sex with them because they’re trans. So if a genetic guy thinks it’s great to get together with an FTM, what’s the problem?”

The particular appeal of transfolk depends on what a nontrans individual is looking for. For instance, a straight-identified man into transwomen may be fascinated by penises, but not sexually attracted to the guys they’re usually attached to. And if he’s bi-curious, it might be an appealing way to ease into male/male sex.

To some, just the crossing of traditional gender boundaries is sexy in and of itself, a thrilling adventure between the sheets. On the other hand, a queer genetic man might well be attracted to a particular FTM, regardless of chromosomes. One gay biomale who’s dated several transboys says, “I’ve always been into small, cute dudes anyway, and many of the FTMs I’ve met fit that category. And unlike some gay men, I don’t find vaginas threatening. I still prefer schlongs and butts, but a hole can be a whole lot of fun.”

When it comes to orientation, things can seem confusing: If a man loves to lick a transguy’s labia, does that make him straight, gay, or bi? Our gay biomale says, “There’s no doubt in my mind that FTMs are male—that’s what the “M” stands for. It’s just that a guy with chest hair and a moustache might be configured a little differently below the belt.” Others, though, might differ, including theorists who argue that transfolk are neither conventionally “men” nor “women.” In the end, it might well come down to the usual rule of sexual engagement: If it’s hot, consensual, and safe, why worry?

If you’re a trans fan, have fun…and behave yourself. Be forthright but polite if you suspect that the guy you’re attracted to might once have been named Jane. Remember—you’re looking for a friendship with benefits, not a freak show. “Though most of the men I’ve dated have been perfect gentlemen,” says our male-to-female friend, “I’ve met my share of creeps. But then, what gal hasn’t?”
Simon Sheppard is the editor of Homosex: Sixty Years of Gay Erotica, and the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at Visit Simon at


Editor’s Note: The following letters are in response to Paul Varnell’s column “Death by Homophobia” in the February 28 issue of Lavender:

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Finding Love In Shelter

Love can be found anywhere. With the film Shelter, it comes in the form of a former surfing buddy. Writer and director Jonah Markowitz came up with the idea while he was at home in Colorado: “I saw two guys tossing a Frisbee back and forth, and I wanted to make a movie with two guys falling in love outside, not in a bar.”

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Lounging in Historical Hipness: Rosenthal Contemporary Furniture Has Long History of Being Moodern

Home & Yard Blvd. Section

The irony, of course, is that, despite its location in Downtown Minneapolis, a place founded in 1895 on design is sometimes hard to find. “People who drive by can’t find our store, because the light rail hides the whole front of it,” Rosie Lebowitz, who describes herself as Rosenthal Contemporary Furniture’s check-signer, laments.

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Family Matters: Brian Kaufman Paves His Own Way In Maintaining a Legacy

Home & Yard Blvd. Section

Concrete is in Brian Kaufman’s blood. His grandfather, Nick, started Kaufman Concrete in North Dakota just after World War II. Some years later, Brian’s father took the company over, and still is running it today. Brian eventually founded his own Minnesota-based version of Kaufman Concrete, this one specializing in decorative detailing.

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Light-ing Up Your Life

Home & Yard Blvd. Section

Gone for now are the dark, cold winter months. Remind yourself of that every day—it will make you happier…guaranteed. As the days keep getting longer and longer, bring some of that wonderful natural light into your home with Solatube solar skylights. These miniwindows to the outside rays, which let a great amount of light into your home, aren’t nearly as much of a hassle to install as a full-fledged skylight.

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Addressing GLBT Issues: An Interview with Representative Keith Ellison

Congressman Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) is wrapping up his first term representing Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. I sat down with him in his office to check in about some of this session’s highlights.

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National News

Oklahoma House Won’t Cite Member for Antigay Talk
Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern will not receive legislative punishment for antigay comments she made earlier this year, House Speaker Chris Benge said. Thousands of e-mails and phone calls began flooding the offices of Kern and other legislators after she told a group of fellow Republicans that gays are “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam,” The Oklahoman reported. Benge, a Republican, stated she does not plan to punish Kern for the remarks made in January. Several organizations reportedly requested that Benge punish Kern, or require her to apologize. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is examining a large number of alleged e-mail and phone death threats Kern has received.

Mayor’s Column Axed for Remarks on Gays

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, city commission axed the Mayor’s column in a city-funded magazine after he complained in print about gay cruising areas. In the column in Focus on Fort Lauderdale, Mayor Jim Naugle complained of finding a Fort Lauderdale park touted as a place where gay men could find sex partners. He also asked residents to complain to police if they witnessed illegal activities. Naugle, who also brought up the issue in his state-of-the-city message, refused to apologize. In his column, he used the term “homosexual” rather than “gay,” arguing that not all homosexuals are happy.

World News

Sexual Preference Affects Health Care
Gay men are more apt to consult a doctor than heterosexual men, but lesbian women are less likely to see a doctor than heterosexual women, a study found. Published by Statistics Canada, it found health care services differ depending on self-identified sexual preference of gay, lesbian, or bisexual, independent of other factors such as age, income, education, and health status. The study used 2003 and 2005 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey for adults ages 18 to 59. About 29 percent of gay men had consulted a medical specialist in the 12 months prior to the survey, compared with 19 percent of heterosexual men; 8 percent of gay men consulted a psychologist, compared to 3 percent of heterosexual men; 77 percent of lesbians had seen a family doctor in the 12 months before the survey, compared with 83 percent of heterosexual women.

Canada Reaffirms No Gay Blood Donors

Two Canadian agencies responsible for blood donations have ignored scientific appeals to accept blood from gay men, Montreal’s Gazette reported. Mark Wainberg and Norbert Gilmore of Montreal’s McGill University AIDS Center filed data with Hema-Quebec and Canadian Blood Services that the nucleic acid test used to screen for HIV in donated blood is 10,000 times more sensitive than the serological tests used in the 1980s, when the gay-donor ban went into force, the newspaper said. Gilmore told a news conference that if the ban were lifted, the Canadian blood supply would gain about 136,000 additional donations each year from gay men. However, Canadian Blood Services spokeswoman Anne Trueman stated the group’s board “just wasn’t satisfied that all the science was in place” to make guarantees of blood safety, according to the newspaper. She said the nucleic acid test still can miss the presence of HIV in someone who was infected only two weeks earlier.

Lesbian Lovers Get Life for Killing Teen
Two young Australian women were sentenced to life in prison for sealing their own relationship by killing a teenage girl. Valerie Parashumti, 19, and Jessica Stasinowsky, 21, must serve at least 24 years before they will be eligible for parole, The West Australian reported. The lesbian couple, who lived in Perth, were convicted of battering Stacey Mitchell, 16, with a chunk of concrete. They kissed over her body, then filmed themselves using a cell phone, and showed the video to some of their friends. Justice Peter Blaxell said he was horrified by the pleasure they showed. “It is also very troubling that you do not show any remorse or shame for what you did, [but] instead, appear to be amused and jubilant,” he told them.

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Gay Money, Real Politics

Given the tenor of our times, I never would have thought that reading The Wall Street Journal would lead to one of the more inventive GLBT political donor sites on the Web today. But that’s what happened when South Beach-based Juan Ahonen-Jover, PhD, read a story about GLBT philanthropist Tim Gill, the Gill Foundation, and the organization’s OutGiving conferences designed to help GLBT donors make informed decisions about their philanthropy and political contributions.

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Tallulah Bankhead

Decades after her heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, self-described “ambisextrous” stage and screen star Tallulah Bankhead is as famous for her bad-girl antics as for her acting talent. Bankhead was born to a prominent political family in Huntsville, Alabama, probably in 1903 (the year is subject to debate). Her father, a US Congressman, sent her to convent schools, where she had her first sexual experiences with other girls.

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