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On Tumblr there has been a slight flareup of the “is it okay to not be attracted to trans women?” debate. So I have decided to write up an etiquette guide for the “not attracted to trans women” side, in the hopes that we can compromise on “people who are not attracted to trans women continue to exist, stop being such freaking douchebags”. (I am not a trans woman myself, although this is based on my observations of and conversations with trans women.)

Shut the fuck up about it. I would conservatively estimate that about 95% of statements of “I am not attracted to trans people” are pointlessly hurtful. Imagine that you aren’t particularly attracted to, say, muscular girls. Are you going to comment on a blog post about creatine supplementation for women with “muscular girls aren’t sexy”? If a muscular girl complains about how she can’t get a date because men are threatened by her bicep size, are you going to respond with “stop trying to make me have sex with you! Rapist!”? Are you going to, apropos of nothing, remark to your friends that muscular girls are inherently unattractive? Are you going to make jokes in which the punchline is a man having sex with a muscular girl? No. Of course not. That would be terrible. Don’t do that shit to trans girls either.

Don’t define your sexual orientation in a trans-exclusionary fashion. “I don’t want to interact sexually with penises”: great, fine, whatever, you do you. “I am not attracted to trans women because I am a lesbian and lesbians are only attracted to women born women”: NO. Bad. No cookie. You see, there are a bunch of other lesbians who are attracted to trans women. (Indeed, some of those lesbians are trans women.) It is not your job to decide that they are somehow not lesbians. This is not interfering with your ability to say no: after all, as a lesbian, you say no to women all the time. You can totally have a preference not to sleep with brunettes, or dancers, or Yankees fans, or whatever you like. But just like you can not want to fuck a brunette– while other lesbians do– you can not want to fuck a trans girl– while other lesbians do.

Some people have attempted to define ‘bisexual’ such that women who jack it to both April Flores and Bailey Jay– but have never been attracted to a man– are bisexual. Such absurd redefinitions I will pass over in silence.

Be polite when rejecting people. When someone hits on you that you do not find attractive, say: “no thanks, you’re not my type.” Do not list off everything you find unattractive about them. This basic point of etiquette is all-too-often lost on people who have been hit on by a trans woman, who feel the need to explain that their rejection is because she’s trans. (And, of course, I should hope that I do not need to explain to anybody that it is entirely inappropriate to respond with insults, slurs, or the use of violence.)

It is possible that you might make out with a trans girl without her saying that she is trans. Most trans people disclose before they make out with anyone, but some do not. Maybe she thought you already knew, maybe she was anxious about disclosing, maybe she feels that she shouldn’t have to disclose. When and whether to disclose that you’re trans is a very personal decision.

Compare it to a size queen. He might want to know the penis size of any prospective partner before he makes out with them. However, his partners are not doing anything wrong if they fail to say “by the way, I’m three inches long”. You don’t actually get to know every detail of someone’s genitals before you make out with them– unless, of course, you ask.

Nor– if your true rejection is “I don’t like interacting with penises”– is it particularly relevant. You didn’t have to interact with any penises. You made out with a cute girl whom you presumably found attractive; knowing she has genitals you don’t like doesn’t change that, any more than knowing that her fetishes are incompatible with yours would. On the other hand, if your true rejection is “I don’t see trans women as women on an instinctive level, which makes me feel like kissing her means I’m gay, which is the Worst Thing In The World,” then you maybe have some homophobia and transphobia issues to sort through. However, you can still be polite to her while you sort through them.

This is one of the rare times when it’s appropriate to say “sorry, I’m not interested in having sex with people with penises”– you have to explain why you’re suddenly not interested in hooking up. If you are still working through your homophobia/transphobia issues, you can leave it at that; if not, feel free to add “you are super-cute” or even “but I’d like to keep making out.”

Be open-minded. I know lots and lots and lots of guys who used to not be into trans girls. But then they internalized that trans girls are women, got over their worry that it would make them gay, and found a trans girl who was really freaking cute– and suddenly they find her cock super-hot. It happens.

That might never happen for you. It’s okay. But if it does happen, don’t freak out and say “I couldn’t possibly be attracted to a woman with a penis! I’m a straight guy! There are rules!” To be fair, this is almost entirely a self-punishing state of affairs, in that now there is a cute person you want to date that you’re not going to get to. So I am not inclined to push it too hard.