Monthly Archives: October 2012

reader questions about attraction

edit: i bet you’re wondering why i called this post “pansexual attraction.”  yeah, me too.  i think i was working on another post at the same time that was actually about pansexual attraction, but i got mixed up and misnamed this post.  really, this post is about attraction in general.  sorry about that, cats!

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one of my totally wicked readers sent me some really good questions and i answered them as best i could.  i figured i’d better share our conversation with you neon cats just in case other people have similar questions and/or folks have stuff to add to the conversation.

I read your article about pansexualism and I had some questions. You said that if you say you’re sexually attracted to ‘men, women and trans’ that’s cissexist. But what if you’re a heterosexual man who is just not attracted to any kind of genitals other than a vulva, and any other kind of person than somebody that identifies as a woman? Or what if you are bisexual, but you only are attracted to people with penises that identify as men or people with vulvas that identify as women? Can you really help what kind of genitals you are attracted to, and what you like your ideal person to look like? I think saying that you’re attracted to transpeople makes it sound like you don’t consider them to be male/female, especially if they are binary identifying trans people, I just wonder about bisexuals and heterosexuals and homosexuals that only are attracted to people whose genitals match their identified gender. I guess, can you be attracted to a certain sex of person and a certain gender? I don’t really know.

Also I read your post about the tits and the pumpkins and I totally always buy the last thing in the discount bin because I don’t want it to feel lonely. Just thinking about it kinda makes me teary eyes.

I’m also very sorry if I was offensive, I’m just learning. That’s no excuse, but it’s the truth, and I’ve combed through it trying to get rid of offensive language.

–anonymous

hi!  i love questions!

the problem with saying you’re attracted to “men, women, and trans* people” is that you’re placing all trans* people outside “men” and “women.”  this sucks because some trans* people ARE men or women; they don’t need any well-meaning pansexuals to erase their existence.  society already tells trans* men and trans* women they aren’t “real” men/women and that they’re “really” the gender they were designated at birth; and they don’t need any more of that kind of thing.  i think you already know this, but i want to make sure we’re on the same page.

moving on.  by definition, a heterosexual guy is a (cis or trans*) guy who only experiences attraction to women.  he may experience attraction to some bodies/genitals but not to others, but that doesn’t impact his heterosexuality.  so a straight guy who only likes vulvae is no more straight than a straight guy who likes all sorts of genitals.  as long as he’s only really attracted to (cis and/or trans*) women, he’s heterosexual.

same thing goes for the bisexual person you describe; they’re no more or less bi than a bisexual person who’s attracted to people with all sorts of genitals.

the other thing to remember is that lots of trans* people get bottom surgery and, in many cases, are thereafter indistinguishable from cis folks.  that means that a straight guy, for instance, who only likes women with vulvae may experience attraction to trans* women with vulvae as well as to cis women with vulvae.  if the mere fact of transness is a problem for this hypothetical guy, he’s kinda cissexist/transmisogynist.  however, if he really just likes (cis/trans*) women with vulvae– cool.

so, yes, it’s totally ok to only be attracted to certain genital configurations; it’s a healthy part of some people’s sexuality.  i’m going to include some relevant reading: the “ethical” imperative of disclosure and the question of fetishization.  they’re both natalie reed articles that discuss trans* bodies, attraction, and all sorts of interesting stuff.  you may have already read them, but i thought you might like them.  also, attraction down the privilege gradient by lisa millbank is kinda relevant.  it discusses how our attractions don’t develop in a vacuum, but are informed by our social/political climate.  anyway.  just in case you love reading.  <3

your message isn’t offensive at all!  i’m really not very uptight about stuff like that (though i think i know why so many people think i am).  we all mess up (me, too!) and i think it’s important to call each other out so we can learn from our mistakes.  that’s all.  no public shaming or stoning or anything like that.  :)

thanks for asking and please lemme know if you have any more questions or if i didn’t answer these questions well enough.  stay splendid!

splendidly,
mx. punk <3

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any thoughts, readers?  how’d i do?  any further advice for the asker?

queer dinosaur in space!

queer t-rex on the moon with rainbows.  that is all.

silly nobinary folks! accurate pronouns are for binary people!

there’s this thing that sucks really hard: binary folks basically telling nonbinary folks that asking for respect (asking for our nongendered pronouns) is asking too much.  it needs to stop, cats.  please.

we don’t need binary folks to tell us how fucking hard it is to get other people to respect our nongendered pronouns.  we already know that.  we LIVE that.  so when well-meaning binary folks come along and tell us (kindly, in my experience) that the thing we’re asking for is going to make work for other people—don’t.  we already know.

i’m not saying you should be all like, “yeah!  i bet if you just tell everyone, people will automatically start applying your nongendered pronouns to you without any fuckups!  yeah!”  cuz, you know, that’d come off as kinda sarcastic.

but you could be all like, “yeah, i’ll do my best.  please correct me when i slip up and i promise to be graceful about it.  do you want me to help you teach other people your pronouns?”  something like that.  cuz honest support would be rad.  thanks, cats.

for a small sampling of receipts, check out the comment section of gender-neutral pronouns presenting a problem [TRIGGER WARNING: binarist asshattery].

top surgery is fucking expensive

ok.  so the jar looks funny, but you know what it’s supposed to look like.  fixed it!  also, you already know i can’t draw; you don’t come here for high art, so don’t complain about my jar-drawing abilities.

and yes, i really do have a jar filled with colorful buttons.  <3

every day is coming out day for someone wearing a gender tag

it’s true, cats.  i field questions about my gender and my pronouns almost every day, mostly cuz of my totally rad gender tag.  yay!  so coming out day (yesterday) wasn’t really a big deal to me.  still, here’s a belated coming out day post cuz coming out day is rad.  huzzah!

k.  so i guess i should share some coming out stories, right?  k.

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coming out at school:

so i came out as a nonbinary trans* person at school this year by sending this email to my teachers in september.  i was fucking terrified the whole time i was writing the email, my sweetheart had to make sure i hit “send” rather than just deleting the email, and i was nervous nigh unto pissing myself for weeks.

i only received one reply via email, but it was a pretty awesome reply.  basically, my teacher said he’d do his best and he advised me to just correct him when he fucked up.  that was fucking rad cuz i happen to give a shit about his opinion.  he’s one of those people who seem kind and safe and who are fun to have conversations with, so i was actually really worried about what i’d do if he got all weird on me.  but he didn’t, so yay!  a couple days ago, i talked to this same teacher about nonbinary gender.  it went really well; he asked some questions, said some interesting stuff, and said he’d keep working on it.  he’s getting pretty good at not misgendering me and i’m stoked.

my private lessons teacher (everyone in the music program takes private lessons at school) didn’t reply to my coming out email, but we’ve been talking about pronouns and he’s been trying really hard.  which is fucking rad cuz i wouldn’t be able to spend another year taking private lessons from someone who didn’t respect my gender and my pronouns.

some of my other teachers have been awkward around me, but at least nothing really bad has happened.  also, lots of students notice my gender tag and are cool about it.  coming out as nonbinary at school has been pretty splendid.

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coming out to my family:

so i came out to my family last year.  my mom was all like, “what about your (presumed heterosexual) partner?  she was weird about it til she watched this video and (i shit you not) came around immediately.  she fucks my pronouns up sometimes, but she’s getting much better.  plus, she corrects other people!  and that’s just neon.

my dad doesn’t count cuz he’s outta my life (i can’t believe he’s just letting me walk away; it’s too good to be true).

my sister moved across the world and is mostly outta my life (for now?), but she took it pretty well.  also, my little nephew, who is more awesome than space ninja dinosaurs, stopped calling me auntie ____ and made up a non-gendered name for me.  yay!  (i fucking miss that kid with all my bones and salt.)  so my sister either had a hand in getting her kid to stop calling me auntie ____ or she at least supported my nephew’s decision to do so.  so victory and yay.

i haven’t come out to my grandmothers.  one of them can’t grasp that i’m even queer (i’ve come out as queer to her at least 3 times and she keeps “forgetting”), but i should probably talk to the other one.  also, the grandmother who can’t understand basic queerness pays my tuition.  i’ll let you know how it goes with the other one, though.

my partner’s family didn’t take it very well.  i came out to them last xmas by passing out sheets of paper with brief explanations of nonbinary gender on them.  some of them widened their eyes, puffed out their cheeks, and never acknowledged me again.  one of them explained how very ok with it she was– and then never really spoke to me again.

it’s ok, though, cuz i removed my awesome self from that toxic situation.  except now my sweetheart is on uneasy terms with his side of the family and that’s not cool.  but they were assholes anyway.  but i still feel bad.  bleh.

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at work:

cats, i work for my mom.  i’m cheating, basically.  i used to work for someone else and i was worried she’d fire me for being trans*, but my mom bought the business and is now my boss.  so i’m cheating cuz that’s one fewer person to come out to.  also, i have no co-workers.

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tl;dr i’m out to basically everybody and i expect the people in my life to try to get my pronouns right.  some people are assholes, but some people are awesome.

also, coming out is a fucking privilege and not everyone is in a position to do so.  not everyone even wants to come out.  either way, we’re pretty splendid cats.

(what a shitty post.  i hope nobody reads it.  maybe i’ll fix it in the morning when i’m not sleepy.  maybe i’ll leave it here so my next mediocre post will seem spectacular by comparison.  maybe i’ll like this post when i reread it in the morning**.  am going to sleep now.)

**i don’t.  this post is still poorly written.  i’m gonna leave it that way, though, cuz lazy.

fuck NO, pan problems!

[CONTENT WARNING: cissexism, rape, violence]

i found this graphic on tumblr and i want to talk about it.  i get that the op was probably trying to be positive, but i have a few issues with this pic.  i shall now present them to you in no particular order because ranking shit is too hard for my brain.

1. the word “love”  –  we’re talking about (sexual/romantic) attraction here, not just love.  in this case, i think “love” comes off as a euphemism for “some combination of attraction, sex, love, and/or affection.”  personally, i think euphemisms are half-assed and useless unless you’re trying to avoid triggers (avoiding triggers = awesome).

(i don’t think “attraction” is generally a triggering word, but please lemme know if i’m just eating my foot, here.  cuz i’m good at changing my ways.)

2. the word “shouldn’t”  –  seriously, i know this is just a little graphic and it’s probably supposed to be cute and/or inspirational, but don’t tell me what my “love” should or should not be based on.  unless i’m fetishizing a group of people and/or behaving in a problematic way, you don’t get to do that.

like, is it ok if i’m only attracted to people who think consent is sexy?  “should” i “love” anti-consent people cuz the “love” police say so?  didn’t think so.  i think “shouldn’t” is kinda a shitty word to use in a graphic like this.

3. “…something as trivial as gender” – gender isn’t trivial.  people are marginalized based on gender. people are killed based on gender.  people are raped based on gender.  people are basically shat on based on gender.  that shit isn’t trivial.  you can’t say gender is trivial unless you’re ignoring the dynamics of gender-based privilege and oppression.

i’d also like to point out that as a trans* person, my gender is pretty fucking important to me in ways cis people often take for granted.  here’s an excerpt from a post i wrote about genderblindness recently:

i fight every day to take up space as a person of my gender.  i come out to strangers on the fly CONSTANTLY (cuz it’s in my self-respect policy).  i end up holding in my piss for hours cuz i can’t find a non-gendered bathroom.  i have to avoid restaurants without non-gendered bathrooms.  i have to avoid clothing stores without non-gendered change rooms.  strangers feel entitled to tell me i’m gross when i come out as trans*.  i have to lie to the government on official forms, and my partner and i are estranged from his side of the family– so i reallyreally hope you aren’t telling me you think my gender is unimportant.  read more.

and that’s just me.  other trans* folks, especially dmab trans* poc, live in fear of serious violence and murder.  this is serious shit.

4.  the notion that pansexuals don’t experience attraction based on gender – maybe YOU don’t experience attraction based on gender, but i do and so do some other pan people.  sometimes gender is a factor in pansexuality and sometimes it isn’t.  there are a shit-ton of ways to experience pansexuality.  start respecting the diversity, please.  thanks.

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i guess i wanted to write about this graphic because it’s more than just a silly picture on tumblr.  to me, it represents attitudes common among internet pansexuals.  these are serious problems and i think we need to talk about them.

thoughts?