Last week I saw a link to a website that listed "10 Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)." I reposted it to Facebook with the commentary, "Of course trans guys are hot." I was just excited that we, trans males, were being seen as attractive. However, the longer I thought about the list, the more troubled I became.
This list favors specific types of trans men: well-known trans guys (including Chaz Bono), white trans men, "passing" trans men, and those who display a very stereotypical type of masculinity, the kind seen in magazines such as GQ. What does this mean? It means that the type of trans male being seen as good-looking is a famous, white, masculine, passing trans guy.
As the trans community comes into its own, we need to resist giving into the assimilationist mindset. We need to make sure that we don't leave any of our own behind as we fight for trans rights. The men on this list are good-looking -- I am not challenging that -- but what is seen as hot?
Where are the hot trans guys of color? Where are the trans guys who, for a variety of reasons, are not talking testosterone? Where are the trans guys who lack the financial resources to have "top surgery," or who choose not to have surgery?
As we grow as a movement, we need to make sure that when lists like this come out, we get our messaging out, as well. We also need to be vigilant in making sure that our organizations don't fall into the same pattern that mass media and Gay Inc. have given in to, only publishing images of the assimilated trans person. We need to hold our own accountable.
My last observation regarding this list is the name itself: "10 Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)." Personally, I am proud of the fact that I was labeled female at birth and socialized as such for many years; I think that my experience of being perceived as female made me a better person. Because of the 25-plus years I spent living in the world as female, I am more aware of the sexism and inequality that exist in our world than I would be if I had been socialized as a middle-class white man. While my birth certificate might say "female," that does not mean that I was "born female." I was socialized and raised as female, but I am male and always have been.
What can we do? As I rode the bus home from New York last week, I listened to Kiki and Herb's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," and I was reminded that we need to shape our own message. The media is trying to televise our revolution, but we need to stand up and speak out when we are not being properly represented. We need to stand up to make sure that no trans person is left behind. We need to make sure that the genderqueer people, the effeminate trans males, the trans people who will never have the privilege of going "stealth," are represented, up front. Let's not do what Gay Inc. did and only put forward the "boy next door."
So, in response to the Oddee article, I launched a new website, hottransguys.com, and the response has been great!
I am trans and proud of my community, all of it! Oh, and we are all handsome just the way we are!