By Kelvin Sparks.
Art by StrangeBird Productions.
When I first attended an adult Gender Identity Clinic, I was asked about my
I’d transitioned as a child, and had stayed closeted about my bisexuality for most of my teenage
“And she’s cisgender, correct?”
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this assumption, and it didn’t surprise me. Alongside the assumption that a “successful” transition ends in heterosexuality is the assumption that this heterosexual relationship should be with a cisgender person. The idea that trans people primarily date and fuck cis people is prevalent — guides written for safe sex for trans men who fuck men frequently assume a cisgender male partner; discussions on trans struggles in dating frequently focus on trans people who seek out cis partners; it is assumed, by default, that trans people want (or should want) to seek out cisgender partners. That this is validating.
It is assumed, by default, that trans people want (or should want) to seek out cisgender partners.
I definitely internalized this narrative for a long time. I grew up mostly detached from the trans community due to the fact I was a trans child. In my early adulthood, I was in stealth mode. I fucked and dated cis gay men and cis straight women, and part of me found that validating. But I shouldn’t have relied on cis people for validation, and especially not in my relationships.
When I mention that I prefer other trans people to cis people, the most common reaction I get is that I “don’t have to do that,” as if I’m close enough to cis that I shouldn’t have to “settle” for another trans person. But my decision to primarily pursue other trans people isn’t “settling.” It’s an active choice, a decision that I’ve made. I don’t choose to pursue other trans people because I don’t think myself worthy of a cisgender partner. It’s because I find joy in being with other trans people.
I love being with other trans people — men, women, and non-binary people — for a multitude of reasons. The first is that when I seek out other trans people, I get to not think about my trans status constantly. In trans-focused spaces, even if they exist only in fleeting moments or between two people, I get to be just “a queer man” rather than “a queer trans man.” I get to be just a man rather than a trans man, a term that cis queer people use as a composite noun even if they include a space between the two words.
I love the strength that trans people have. I love the power and beauty and courage that we have, things that cisgender people will never understand, even if they are aware of them. I love seeing the signs I have of my trans status — my patchy facial hair, the two scars across my chest, the arm scar I will eventually have from a surgery graft — not as signs of imperfections or things that make me clockable, but as parts of a whole. I love seeing other trans people the same way, as every part of them is part of a handsome, beautiful, gorgeous whole.
I love fucking other trans people too. The sex I have with other trans people feels organic in a way I never expected sex could. When I fuck other trans people, it feels like they see me as myself, not as ideas about trans men that they project onto my trans body. Other trans people do not assume that they can call my genitals my “pussy,” that I like vaginal penetration, that I like penetration at all, that I have not had or intend to have bottom surgery. They also do not assume that I never want or enjoy vaginal penetration, or that another trans person not wanting bottom surgery makes them less valid.
I don’t want to imply that trans people who date cis people are somehow “selling out,” or that trans/cis relationships cannot be loving. Relationships between cis and trans people of all genders can be fulfilling, loving, caring relationships. I want all trans people to find joy in their lives and relationships, no matter what form it takes. I also don’t want to imply that trans/trans relationships cannot be bad relationships, or contain power imbalances. All AFAB trans people (regardless of how we identify or present) are able to use transmisogyny to wield power over transfeminine people, including our partners. Transmedicalists may pressure partners into gender affirming care they do not want, and I’ve had trans partners try to pressure me out of my desire for bottom surgery. I’m also not unattracted to cis people. (I often joke that my sexuality is “into men, women, non-binary people, and cis people.”) I actually think any perception of sexuality that uses is/isn’t trans as criteria (be this inclusive “I’m only attracted to trans people” or exclusive “I’m not attracted to trans people”) is based on the idea that all trans people are clockable.
Being in a trans/trans relationship can also make experiencing transphobia feel more intense. During the time leading up to, during, and after the Gender Reform Act Reform Consultation in the UK, the media was a transphobic shitstorm. The exhaustion of both my boyfriend and I seeing transphobic headlines on our commutes, day in and day out, made the impact of it at home feel more intense. But it also made the moments of relief and joy we found more intense too, because we understood each other’s pain and exhaustion in a way a cis partner never could.
Ultimately I choose to date and fuck other trans people, because that is where I find joy. Joy in our shared experiences, joy where we can help each other heal, joy in rejecting the idea that our lives should center around cis people. It is choosing to love other trans people that taught me how to love myself as a trans person.
Kelvin is an intersex and transgender bisexual man who writes about sex on the internet. You can find him on Instagram or at KelvinSparks.com, where he reviews sex toys and creates trans focused sex-ed content.