Many trans women also serve as caretakers within their communities. Some are mothers and grandmothers; others help raise the children of their transgender siblings.
Mass media images of biological males feminizing themselves can function subversively to highlight ways in which conventional femininity is artifice—a point that feminists make all the time. However, this discourse masks the way in which racism, fatphobia, and other structures of oppression shape desires.
What is a trans woman?
Transgender women are people who identify as female, despite being assigned male at birth. They may also be known as MTF, transfeminine or tgirls. Transgender women are a part of the transgender community, which is an umbrella term for all people whose gender identity or expression doesn’t match the one they were born into – it could include MTF trans men, drag queens and gender nonconforming people.
Trans people can realise they are transgender at any age and research from 2021 shows that most know by the time they’re 14. Trying to repress this feeling isn’t healthy and can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Many trans people need to go through a process to get recognised as the gender they identify as – this is called Gender Recognition. This involves living in their ‘acquired’ gender for a period of time, proving they are that gender and getting documents changed. Surveys show that this can be difficult, and many trans people end up staying in unsafe situations to avoid the process.
What is a cis woman?
Cisgender is a term that means someone identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. People who are cisgender identify as the same sex they were presumed to be at birth and may experience sexual or romantic attraction to people of that same sex. People who are cisgender can also be straight, which is a sex orientation that means they’re attracted to people of their own gender.
Many people who identify as cisgender are part of LGBTQIA+ communities. They may prefer to use the pronouns “he” and “she,” or they might use “they.” Some trans people choose to be stealth, which is when a person lives as their gender while not telling others. This can be done for safety reasons or so they don’t lose access to things like employment and housing. Trans people who are stealth can often feel uncomfortable when other people use the wrong pronouns. They might also experience dysphoria, which is a feeling of discordance between their body and their identity.
What is a cis man?
Cis is an adjective that means “on the same side,” and it refers to a person’s sex as they were assigned at birth. People have 23 pairs of chromosomes, and the sex pair is determined by what appears on their external genitalia at birth. So, a cis man is someone who was assigned male at birth and currently identifies as a man. Cis women are those who were assigned female at birth and identify as a woman.
Gender identity is different from sex, and transgender people often use terms like non-binary or genderqueer to describe their own gender identities. Some may be pre-op, post-op or non-op in terms of gender-related surgeries (for example, a mastectomy).
Some cis men and cis women take hormones as part of their transition to their desired sex, but that doesn’t necessarily make them straight. Many trans people are lesbian, bisexual or asexual, and it’s important to respect everyone’s gender orientation.
What is a cis man’s relationship with a trans woman?
In healthy relationships, both partners are free to express their bodies and bodies’ expressions in ways that feel good to them. This means letting your trans partner dress in whatever way feels most comfortable, and supporting her to be expressive in public. Some men worry that others will see their trans partners, and may even try to keep their relationships private. This is often a sign of insecurity and is best addressed by communicating openly and respectfully with your partner.
Cis men can also be attracted to and desire trans women who meet certain expectations of hyper-femininity or outdated gender stereotypes, a process called passing (Hood 2020). This form of fetishism constructs trans women through a pornographic sex object lens and is not a sex-positive approach.
Many participants discussed their families’ reactions to dating a trans woman and how this could negatively impact their relationship. For some of these participants, it meant feeling uncomfortable when their family members talked about their sex preferences or wanted to know more about their medical transition (i.e., HRT, top surgery, or a legal name change).