DARE TO ASK: Attraction, when he's now a she
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Are men who've had a gender change attracted to men or women?
Audrey, British Columbia
My transgendered friend is "pre-op male-to-female." Although she hasn't had
her operation, she presents herself as a woman. She was a heterosexual male
attracted to females. Because she still prefers females, she'll be a lesbian
when she makes the change.
Maria, 60, Jacksonville
I'm undergoing gender reassignment and my sex drive is zero. Some
male-to-females retain their ingrained orientation, becoming lesbians, while
others become what for them is heterosexual: being attracted to men. I
appreciate the company of men and women. I'll let nature take its course and
find my partner when the time is right.
Diana, 39, Toronto
We transsexuals are attracted to whoever we were attracted to before the sex
change. If she was a gay man, she's now a straight woman. If she was a straight
man, she's now a lesbian. Some people claim hormones "turned them gay" -- that
they were attracted to one sex and after their sex change "mysteriously" changed
sexuality. But usually this means they were sexually confused to begin with.
Jack, gay, Oshkosh, Wis.
When you say "men who've had a gender change," do you mean people who
transitioned from male to female or female to male?
K., 22, male, Albuquerque, N.M.
To K. in Albuquerque: Dude, we were close to having it figured out there
before you chimed in, you know?
This week's assignment to stop our collective heads from spinning goes to
Jillian Todd Weiss of Gender Diversity Consulting and a law professor at Ramapo
College of New Jersey.
Weiss, who was previously a male, researches workplace transgender issues.
She humored us by acknowledging that for some people there may be real meaning
to an old joke punch line: Yes, some straight men feel they should be women,
they then become female, and then remain attracted to women -- in effect, having
been lesbians trapped in a man's body. (We'd been waiting to fit that line
somewhere into this column.)
Weiss first distinguished between sex and gender. "Sex is anatomy, gender is
psychology. Sex is between the legs, gender is between the ears."
She then differentiated between sexual orientation and gender identity.
"Sexual orientation is about liking boys or girls; gender identity is about
being boys or girls."
It's reasonable, then, to assume that the gender someone is attracted to
before a sex change is the one he or she is attracted to after, she noted. That
said, a sex change's biological, hormonal and sociological effects can lead some
to change their orientation.
As for Weiss herself, who was married to a woman for 10 years before her
operation: She's not completely sure of her orientation now, but "mostly I dig
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information.