By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist
Recently, I read an opinion piece about men who desire trans women. The column went on to say that some of these men are fetishists who fetishize the bodies of trans women. The piece further goes on and states that the only reason these men want to be with a trans woman is because they don’t truly see the trans woman as a person but rather as an object of their fetishistic desires. I have seen various columns and articles over the years about this subject. Now I can’t speak for every trans woman nor can I speak for any man who does love trans women, but I have been dating men for eight years now as a trans woman and I have a much different perspective on this matter of labeling these men as fetishists.
I am a trans woman who rejected the idea of genital surgery. Yes, I still have my original genitals and I have no thoughts of having the surgery. I know that many, if not most, trans women place a huge value on genital surgery and they refer to it as GCS, gender confirmation surgery, and that they deem it as necessary to live their lives. I agree with their avenues of thought, that is, if you require GCS then you should have it. As for myself, I don’t require GCS so I never had it. Besides, I am very wary of any kinds of surgeries, so I decided to live full time as female while retaining my original genitals.
I like men and I have dated many men. Yes, these men like my penis but they also like my breasts, my derriere, and my legs. I’m not so certain that if they like my penis then it is considered a fetish. I know that many men constantly sexualize women’s breasts, derriere, legs, etc. Why not just add the penis? To me it’s just another one of my body parts that some men sexualize.
In my relations with the men I’ve dated, I have never felt like I was a fetish object. They have always treated me like a lady and have respected me as a lady. Yes, of course I have picked up on their urge to make love to me but I have found it no different than any man wanting to make love to any woman. Maybe I attract a certain kind of man but they have always been very gentlemanly with me. Oh there’s been some great kissing and wonderful upper body experiences but only a few have actually gone “all the way” with me and believe it or not, some of these love experiences did not involve my penis at all. To me it felt like two people, a man and a woman, making love and these weren’t one night stands. Yes, there were more dates, but there always seemed to be a problem.
The problem was that most of my dates were reluctant to be seen with me in public with their straight friends or in their hometowns. Only one man did introduce me to a couple of his straight friends and we did go shopping together in his local grocery store. You see, there is still a social stigma in the straight world placed on a man who likes trans women. It’s sad, but it’s true. Add to that stigma the fact that some folks label these men as fetishists doesn’t help either.
The real problem, in my opinion, is the social stigma that is placed on men who like trans women and it becomes worse when these men are labeled as sick fetishists. This drives them even further into their closets, and being in their closets prevents these men from coming out as our lovers. Maybe I’m missing something about this fetishization, but I do date men regularly. I do see the prejudices and the stigmas against these men. To me, if a man likes my penis that is fine with me. What is not fine with me is that he is made to feel less-than by people who call him a fetishist.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a trans woman who has three grown children and is retired from 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.