Curious and curiouser

Pub date July 31, 2007


Dear Andrea:

My straight (?) man who loves women and their curves and smiles and butts and legs, who loves me and my mom and his mom and all the pretty girls who pass us on the sidewalk, also really, really likes looking at transsexual porn. He likes really feminine-looking guys who have long pretty hair and soft girly curves. He tells me he has no interest in following through with what has been for him a very, very long-term turn-on. This fetish doesn’t really play itself out in the bedroom, where we are basically old-fashioned. Since he looks at this porn often enough for it to be more than curiosity, could you give me some information on it?


So Curious

Dear So:

What can I tell you? There is a huge market for porn featuring shemales, young, pretty pre-op or nonop transsexuals, a.k.a. "chicks with dicks." The answer to what I assume is your underlying question, meanwhile, does not exist, and I can prove it. I was feeling kind of bored with my own standard answer to similar questions and, in a fit of ennui, entered "he looks at shemale porn" into a search box. I got eleventy million porn sites and this, from the archives of the late and, I guess, occasionally lamented Google Answers:

Q: Why would a man in a committed, loving, sexual relationship use shemale and transgender porn?

A: There is no answer at this time.

So there you have it.

More seriously, there really can’t be an explanation for what all those straight guys are getting out of all that shemale porn — if you asked them, you’d get various answers, including "I dunno, I just like it." A lot of "I dunno, I just like it." The most obvious and, to the wives and girlfriends looking on anxiously from the sidelines, most troubling answer is, of course, "They’re gay, gay, gay," but honestly, it isn’t likely. Gay men tend to be attracted to men — sometimes little, slim, smooth-bodied men, sometimes big, hairy, muscle-bulgy men, but men just the same. There are, of course, exceptions — there are always exceptions — but most of the audience for this stuff (and the vast majority of customers for the vast selection of shemale-type sex workers out there) are as straight as you are. Some are obviously penis curious but, not being gay, would not be turned on by porn featuring big muscley guys named Rod or Steel or Steel Rod. Some just like stuff that feels forbidden or dirty. Some, I suppose, may be fantasizing that they are the shemale (a term, by the way, best reserved for sex workers and porn models, while just-regular-folks male-to-female transsexuals generally think of themselves as trans women of various op or nonop sorts).

Actually, I know an even better way to piss off a well-educated, politically aware trans person than to call her a shemale: use the word autogynephilia. Then duck. No, don’t call her a duck — I mean duck and cover, since she will want to punch your throat out.

Autogynephila is part of an alternative (in this case, alternative to the correct one, if you ask me) model of transsexuality in which male-to-female transsexuals are not women of any sort but merely gender dysphoric males or, if postop, men without penises, and in which those trans women who aren’t attracted to men (lots, in my experience) are not lesbians, bisexuals, or asexuals but autogynephiles, men who are turned on by the image of themselves as women. In other words, they spent masses of money, went through surgeries, changed their entire lives, and often lost family members, spouses, and jobs, all for a sexual thrill. This model seems too stupid to have gained any currency at all outside the crabbed little hearts of its three or four well-known proponents, but apparently you can still find it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR, the most up-to-date version of the standard reference your psychiatrist or therapist uses to figure out what the hell is wrong with you.

So what does this have to do with your question? Oh, nothing much, I just thought it was an interesting — if slightly nongermane — footnote, and if you don’t like interesting if slightly nongermane footnotes, you probably don’t read this column.

I think your man who loves women and moms and fluffy lavender bunnies (I’m sorry, but you inadvertently made him sound a bit like, oh, remember that unaccountably heterosexual Peter Pan guy, the one with the Web site and the large collection of jerkins who’s forever looking for his Tinkerbell? That guy) has a fetish, plain and simple. The Web exists to give such people an outlet, and I may be naive, but I truly believe that a guy who loves you and is happy with you can easily satisfy his yen for exotica in the privacy of his home office and need never stray. You’ve already asked him about that. He’s already answered. I’d be inclined to shrug and believe him.



Andrea is home with the kids and going stir-crazy. Write her a letter! Ask her a question! Send her your tedious e-mail forwards! On second thought, don’t do that. Just ask her a question.