I'm Attracted to a Trans Person—What Does This Mean?
It's Friday night and you're swiping through dating apps. In an ocean of profiles, you stumble across one that really catches your attention. You open their profile and swipe through their photos. The attraction is instant. Without reading their profile, you hurriedly swipe right, and it's an instant match! Now scrambling for something to say, you peruse their bio for a witty opening line only to discover a word that you weren't expecting: trans.
For plenty of people, especially those who already identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, this is a normal occurrence. But there are millions of people who are still wrapping their heads around what it means for a person to identify as transgender. And plenty of them will find a trans person attractive, leading to a question that's been asked since time immemorial: Does that make me gay?
Well, I don't know. Does it?
The hard questions
That answer might seem flippant, but the question is as complicated as the nature of human sexuality. When it comes to identity, we want answers that are fast and easy to understand. But there's no online quiz or therapist's questionnaire that can definitively tell you if you're gay or straight—only you can determine that.
Let's say you're a man who's found himself attracted to a trans woman. You previously found yourself ogling swimsuit magazines and crushing on supermodels. Has everything changed? Are you suddenly gay?
No, probably not. Trans women are women; they were just born different from how a large portion of society was raised to think of as a woman. In this case, you're likely attracted to her femininity, which, if you're a cisgender man, makes you decidedly not gay.
This nuance is not a satisfying answer for a lot of people. The reason this question—Am I gay?—is so prominent largely comes down to genitals. The logic says that if a man is attracted to somebody with a penis, then he must be gay. The same goes for cisgender women attracted to trans men.
But, ultimately, a prospective sex partner's anatomy is only one element of their body, and it says no more about the gender with which they identify than their shoe size. Bodies and genitals vary greatly from person to person. A cisgender woman with a very large clitoris is not a man, and a cisgender man with a small penis is not a woman.
The laws of attraction
For anyone who was taught while growing up that there are only two distinct genders, today's proliferation of genders can be tough to swallow. Redefining how we think of such societally entrenched concepts as "man" and "woman" is difficult even for transgender people. Adding sex and romance to the fire is bound to further confusion.
The real answer to the question "Am I gay if I'm into a trans person?" isn't really no, but rather a different question: "Does it matter?"
If you're open to asking yourself questions like "Am I gay?" then there are probably some aspects you have yet to discover about yourself. Being attracted to a trans person might have you thinking about things you never dreamed would turn you on. Maybe penises really do get you going. Or you might just be into women—genitals be damned.
Don't jump to a rigid identity and claim it right away. Rather, be open to exploring your impulses and attractions without getting hung up on labels. It's nothing to have an existential crisis over. In fact, get excited. You're learning more about your inclinations and desires. That's always something to celebrate, even if you learn things aren't the way you always thought they were.