“People aren’t thinking deeply enough about their sexuality” – more cotton ceiling from transactivists

This blog has previously covered the “cotton ceiling” – the idea that having  a preference for partners of a specific biological sex is bigoted and transphobic. The idea is particularly often used against lesbians. This piece on the website “Feministing” explains why women are wrong if they have a preference for only dating people with vaginas.

The author admits that some women do not want to date bepenised individuals because of traumatic experiences. Don’t worry though, your trauma isn’t reality-based! Sex also isn’t about bodies.

I get why a lot of female assigned folks exist in this frame for reasons that aren’t overtly about undermining trans identities.There’s a ton of gender based trauma out there, and I understand that folks associate this with cis men, and not with trans men. But that’s not a reality-based approach to gender. A lot of that trauma gets easily linked to genitals, but this isn’t about bodies, it’s about patriarchy.

The author then goes on to explain that it’s not okay to process trauma in  a way that excludes people with penises:

My trans brothers deserve better than sex in a frame that undermines their identities. This doesn’t mean queer cis women and gender non-conforming female assigned folks can’t fuck trans men, but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining – to recognize that they sleep with men, and to question why they’re OK with sleeping with trans men and not cis men. I just don’t think it’s OK to process your sexual trauma in a delegitimizing way through the bodies of folks who’ve often faced tons of trauma at the intersection of gender and sexuality.

The author then goes on to blame female people (trans men) for the fact that male people (trans “sisters”) are being “pushed out”, that it, excluded from some people’s dating preferences.

I do put a little more responsibility on trans men for letting this frame push their trans sisters out. This approach to sexuality totally erases trans women by excluding us from the group of sexually existing queer women.

Finally, the author concludes, people disagree with having their sexual preferences questions because they are “puritanical”.

There’s a lot of resistance to thinking about the politics of sexuality in this way, which I totally get. Our sexualities are our own, they’re personal, and in such a puritanical world any critique of sexuality can seem messed up. But our desires are absolutely influenced by our cultural context. When you really look at the way patterns of desire map onto what bodies are privileged and what bodies are marginalized, it becomes obvious that our desires are political. I am absolutely not about critiquing the way one person falls for another. The problem is with a community trend. When we leave sexuality trends unexamined, sex becomes a space where privilege and oppression run amuck.

Some people not wanting to fuck some other people = oppression.

And it’s not just one person saying this. Here is a blog post by someone explaining at length why it’s not okay to have sexual preferences when those preferences do not include penises:

-A person should never experience a total loss of attraction to another person after learning their genital status. That’s a clear, and inarguable sign of transphobia at play. Simply knowing a person’s genital status is no excuse for such a monumental loss of attraction to a person.

-Being solely attracted to genitals is transphobic. Requiring engagement with specific kinds of genitals is fetishistic.

So, basically, being homosexual or heterosexual is fetishisticIt is not allowed to prefer people of one particular sex when looking for a sexual partner, according to this (and many other) transactivists.

Here is another writer who talks at length about how it is not okay to prefer partners of one specific sex:

Then there is the other side of the coin: some cis women might have an issue or feel uncertain about hooking up with a woman who has different genitalia than her own. First of all, you should never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do or that you’re even unsure about. If you aren’t comfortable or you just aren’t into it, say no.

That having been said, if genitalia is the one and only reason for not being into someone, I do think it is worth thinking through that.

Are you a women who does not want to be sexually involved with penises? You should think about this. You’re not allowed to simply say no, according to the (male) author. You have to really think about why.

On reddit, a poster asks the question if it’s possible to respect trans people even if one doesn’t want to date them. Some replies:

you have to consider dating trans people
If you’re unwilling to date someone because they are trans, then yeah
if you are like that, you have a problem

If you are not interested in dating trans people, you have a problem you should overcome.

In this thread in a lesbian subreddit, a commenter weighs in:

Lesbians who prefer vulvas are superficial

In this discussion, another poster offers their opinion on “genital preferences”:

flimsy cover
A flimsy cover for not challenging transphobia

Having boundaries and simply saying “no” is now just a “flimsy cover for not challenging transphobia”.

“Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself in some way?”

Many young teens come to the realization that they are transgender through watching videos online, particularly on YouTube. There has been a dramatic increase in young people being referred for treatment because they are transgender. The increase is so large that many people, especially parents of young trans people, are beginning to ask the question if we are witnessing the phenomenon of social contagion.

Clinic sees 20-fold increase in referrals

Number of pediatric referrals quadruple

This graph comes from an article about the rise of gender identity related referrals in the UK:


Source: The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Many parents of young people tell similar stories about kids who go on YouTube binges, and end up identifying as transgender, and then go on to wanting to transition medically. This is especially common for girls. So what are they being told in these YouTube videos? Let us have a look at one example:

Partial transcript:

[1:09]: Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself in some way? (…) There must be some sort of discomfort with yourself currently. Look inside yourself and think about the times where you may have felt discomfort from hearing your birth name, from being referred as though your assigned sex, or simply feeling discomfort on wearing the clothes off your back. Those are just general examples but really look inside yourself and think back  on to the past of situations that really should have been taken as no big deal but they were taken as such and you never really knew why.

[1:42]: Have you tried experimenting outside your assigned sex? Maybe if you have an inkling that you’re trans, but you don’t know where to go from here. Try experimenting by wearing things that are not typical of your assigned sex, you know like wear T-shirts if you’ve been used to wearing dresses or something like that. (…)

[3:43]: Have you seen or are familiar with other stories of transgender people? If (…) you’re still somewhat on the fence, ah, I would definitely check out some other people’s narratives or stories, and find if you’re, if there are some that are relatable to you. Find like you identify, or you’re finding like, similar struggles with other people who are going through somewhat the same, similar struggles as you. (…) They will definitely  be helpful to you, to help you figure out whether or not you are trans

There are three points about this video that should give you pause. One, viewers are urged to comb through their memories for any discomfort they recollect, and such memories are to be taken as signs of trans-ness. No other options are even acknowledged. Two, superficial preferences like clothing are taken as proof of trans-ness. Feeling comfortable in a T-shirt is a diagnostic sign. Three, the viewer is encouraged to delve into the stories of  people with “similar struggles” to find experiences that are similar to their own. The video goes on to mention the video blogs of other trans people. This means that the viewer is encouraged to seek only confirming evidence. What if there are stories by people who felt the same way but were not actually trans? Such people certainly exist, as seen here, here and here (just a few examples), but these stories never come up in the types of videos shown here.

These YouTubers are giving young people bad advice. They mean well, but the results have chilling consequences when young people go on to medically transition based on the type of advice presented here.