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This anti-trans woman ideology is harmful, misogynistic and pervasive and travels way beyond the comments section of gossip blogs, and as Sylvia Rivera once said, “I will no longer put up with this shit.” I am a trans woman. I had learned that I was unworthy and undeserving, and it took me years to release myself from the shame and stigma society had forced upon me as a young woman.A man’s desire for my body, my brain, my brilliance and my existence is not a laughing matter because I am not a joke.He must do this to maintain his standing in our patriarchal society.For a man to be associated with a trans women, in effect, is to say that he is no longer a “real” man (as if such a thing exists) because he sleeps with “fake” women (as if such a thing exists). As there are many kinds of women, there are many kinds of men, and many men desire many kinds of women, trans women are amongst these women. The shame that society attaches to these men, specifically attacking their sexuality and shaming their attraction, directly affects trans women. It amplifies our body-image issues, our self-esteem, our sense of possibility, of daring for greatness, of aiming for something or somewhere greater.Our relationship is marveled at largely because most people do not believe that a man like Aaron should have to “compromise” his heteronormative social standing by being with a trans woman or a woman who is not “real.” It is rare for an openly trans woman – no matter how “passable” or attractive she is – to have a man who openly loves her, who has an unabashed desire to be seen with her, who proudly stands beside her — despite the stigma and other people’s curiosities and inappropriate questions.Those questions regarding Aaron’s sexuality are constant and fraught with assumptions that this essay can’t begin to unpack, and for a man less secure it can be difficult navigating these questions, especially if you also perceive the women you’re attracted to as shameful, as less-than-human objects you must keep secret at all costs.I’ve stood witness to many so-called scandals, mostly published on gossip blogs, where passing interactions with trans women spawn hundreds of headlines, particularly for a man with fame and social capital.Thousands of words have been dedicated to analyzing whether such and such famous man is now suspect, merely because he took a photo with a fan who happened to be a trans woman.
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This questioning has led many well-known men to adamantly defend their heterosexuality and has tarnished the reputation and careers of others.
It sounds like silliness on the surface, but often times when gossip blogs are the public’s only exposure to trans women, it spreads misinformation, validates stereotypes and causes irreparable damage.
When a man can be shamed merely for interacting with a trans women – whether it be through a photograph, a sex tape or correspondences — what does this say about how society views trans women? This pervasive ideology says that trans women are shameful, that trans women are not worthy of being seen and that trans women must remain a secret — invisible and disposable.
If a man dares to be seen with a trans woman, he will likely lose social capital so he must adamantly deny, vehemently demean, trash and/or exterminate the woman in question.