A trans woman is a girl assigned male at birth who may choose to take hormones, adopt a feminine name or have surgery to appear more female. She may be attracted to women, men or neither.
Jeffreys writes that if we want to advance women’s rights, we must be mindful — and radical — about including trans women in the women’s movement.
Gender identity is a person’s deeply held inner sense of whether they are female, male or a mix of both. Some people’s gender identity matches up with the cultural expectations of their assigned sex at birth, known as being cisgender. Others self-identify as transgender, agender, Two-Spirit, gender queer or non-binary.
Many transgender people experience significant social changes during their transition, such as changing their name and sex designation on official documents, adopting a new appearance through dress and grooming and using hormone therapy to change their body’s internal chemistry. Some may also undergo medical interventions such as chest binders, voice therapy or surgery to modify their genitalia and other physical features.
In addition, some transgender women choose to be referred to as men after their transition and some use the term MTF to describe themselves during this period of time (male-to-female). Sexual orientation, however, has no bearing on someone’s gender identity or transition. Sexual orientation refers to a person’s romantic, physical and emotional attraction to other self-identified women or men.
Many trans women may be attracted to men, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they want a relationship with a man. They may prefer to be with other women, or they could be a butch, a lesbian or bisexual.
Similarly, they might not want a sexual relationship at all. Having respect and understanding for these feelings is important, as is finding a way to express them in a safe and respectful manner.
Some people find it helpful to use apps to share their gender identity, sexuality and body preferences with potential partners. However, it’s essential to be aware of how these apps can affect your power dynamic with a partner and ensure you are being respectful and consenting. In addition, it’s essential to separate the fantasy of pornography from how you act in your real life with a partner and that you don’t use these scenes as a tool to control them or treat them badly.
Trans women may experience body image vicissitudes throughout the gender affirmation process. The transition from male to female entails a wide variety of physical and social changes that can impact body image in positive and negative ways. In addition, societal beauty ideals are often gendered and can place additional pressure on trans people to attain unattainable physiques. These pressures can lead to disordered eating behaviors.
In a recent study, participants who were further along in gender affirmation reported experiencing greater life satisfaction and body appreciation. However, the authors also found that discrimination impacted body dissatisfaction and eating behavior negatively, suggesting that interventions that focus on bolstering coping resources of those regularly confronted by prejudice could improve outcomes.
Further research on gender identity and body image needs to be conducted with larger, more diverse samples to better understand the relationships. Specifically, it would be helpful to examine the role of sexual orientation in these relationships. This is particularly relevant as cisgender and LGBTQIA individuals have been linked to positive body image in previous studies.
Many trans women feel that they are objectified, particularly by men who want them solely because of their trans identity or particular aspects of their bodies. This is called fetishisation and can be very hurtful. People should always treat each other as whole persons.
Many men may be nervous about dating trans women because they aren’t represented in the media or in their family and friendship groups. They also might have concerns about how others in their community or workplace might react.
However, many men have reported positive experiences with their relationships with transgender people. They have described coping strategies that they and their relations have developed to help manage barriers. These include dyadic support in the form of positive identity bolstering experiences and general social support networks. They have also talked about the importance of checking in throughout sex to ensure that consent is being freely given. This is a fundamental principle of healthy, safe sexual relationships.