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Unrequited Love Among the Genders

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Scott Threlkeld

Love is bustin' out all over. It's summer, and June is the favorite month of brides. Or it used to be. Nothing is what it used to be, including brides. Sex, if not necessarily love to die for, gets weirder and weirder.


A 9-year-old boy named "Keegan" is a drag queen in Houston and regularly performs in gay clubs when he can get away from his third-grade studies. He was celebrated by a Houston television station the other day for "spreading a message of love," though one viewer objected that "dancing onstage as adult men throw money at him is not 'spreading a message of love'; it's child exploitation."

Another little boy in drag, perhaps more mature at 10, has become something of an LGBTQ icon in Manhattan clubs. He calls himself an "activist and advocate," having marched in gay pride parades since he was 6. A Canadian drag queen, also 10, performs as "Queen Lactacia," who may not be old enough yet to get the joke.

Wiser heads in the LGBTQ community say the pre-puberty drag queens are not "appropriate," but it's hard to know what the warped culture deems "appropriate." Warped as it is, the culture decrees that only the narrow-minded, the religious nuts, and out-and-out bigots find anything inappropriate.

Bustin' out or not, love gets complicated when you get past 13. Karen Blair, an assistant professor of psychology at St. Francis Xavier University who studies dating customs, finds that nearly all participants in her poll of many "genders" have no interest in dating trans women, women who were once men. She and her colleagues asked a thousand straight men and women (the "cisgender" folks) whether they would be interested in dating transgender folks.


"It's not an inconsequential question," she writes of her findings in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. "For many of my trans friends the question of whether someone will date them after they transition or 'come out' often weighs heavily on their minds." We should hope so. It's a tragic choice and difficult, if not impossible, to change once made.

Human relationships are obviously crucial sources of social support. The government can try to be a substitute, as we have seen, but even at great public expense, it cannot effectively replace a friend, spouse, or lover. Professor Blair cites statistics that show that the success of relationships is a better predictor of long life than smoking or obesity. The dating pool can seem small enough to singles — much smaller for those who are transgender.

Looking more closely at the patterns of responses to her survey, professor Blair says it became clear that curious straight men with a yen for the ladies were still not likely to go for psychologically and physically altered men. You hardly need a learned study to figure out why. But issues of tolerance have stretched to the bizarre, rendering satire moot.

"As a transgender woman," writes Janelle Villapando, 22, an aspiring fashion designer writing in the online fashion magazine Flare, "my relationship with online dating is complicated to say the least. I am searching for Mr. Right as a transgender woman. I was born male, but I identify and 'present' as female, which adds a whole new dimension to digital dating."


Since transitioning in 2014, she says, "I haven't reacted positively to guys who hit on me in person because I haven't mastered the art of telling them that we have 'the same parts.'" She's wise to work on that "art" because such a revelation is not the surprise straight men look forward to on the wedding night.

Miss Vallapando finds three different kinds of men among those whom she has dated: men who fetishize trans women, men who are curious but cautious, and those who haven't read her profile online. "I usually get very forward messages from guys who just want me for my body," she says. "They view me as exotic, a kink, something new to try."

Such prospective beaus "want to chill somewhere less public or exclusively at their place so they won't be seen with me." One man kept checking his apartment hallway to make sure his neighbors wouldn't see her leave.

No matter how we try to twist human nature into our new politically correct attitudes, sexual psychology may not be so malleable. In the generalized, nonjudgmental rhetoric of political correctness, no one wants to confront the sad, tragic experiences found in reality.

The endurance of those who are transgender is the inevitable collateral damage wrought by the open-ended sexual revolution. "It's one thing to make space for diverse gender identities within our workplaces, washrooms and public spaces," says professor Blair, "but it is another to fully include and accept gender diversity within our families and romantic relationships." She doesn't have the solution to the heartbreak, and neither do I.


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