Transgender Secrecy

January 16, 2009

Recently, mai friend Jerry had a fun night where he “hooked-up” with a love lady named Karen at a party. These two ended up engaging in some heavy “necking and petting”. Jerry was devastated, angry, and hurt to later find out this chick was a pre-op transgendered woman. Jerry has a great fear that people will now question his sexuality and see him as a gay man. This, I’ve tried to reassure him, of course is a nonsensical fear.

I am happy to see more of society being represented on television and in the world. Transgendered people are becoming more of a topic in American society. Recently, Isis was the first transgendered model on America’s Next Top Model, Katelynn is the first transgendered personality on The Real World, and there is at least one transgendered character on a daytime drama. Because of intolerance, I can understand why many transgendered people want to keep privacy about their sexuality. However, I think a line is drawn when they enter into romantic relationships without disclosing this information to their partner.

Arrogantly, at first, I thought everyone would share this opinion. En mon avis, ideally no judgment should be passed on anyone for choosing to live their life in a way that isn’t harmful. In mai undergraduate Human Sexuality Seminar class, Dr. William Bradley expressed his position during our section on the transgendered community. He believes that once transgendered people have their bodies operated on to match their mindset, they are for all intents and purposes their reassigned gender. I agree with the majority of this position. However, it is their obligation to make this information known to anyone they want to be romantically involved with. I do not feel transgendered people should be made or pressured legally or otherwise to disclose information about their sexuality to employers, landlords, schools, or any other public or private organizations. It’s simply not anyone’s business besides those who they are planning on being intimate with. Dr. Bradley, however did not agree with me. He just kept asking me, Why? Why do they have to tell anyone? The are now their new gender.

If you listen to The Pharcyde you may have heard Fatlip talk about making out with a woman only to find out she was transgendered. In their documentary Cydeways: The Best of The Pharcyde, Fatlip goes into a bit more detail explaining that he was embarrassed by the situation for years. He only felt comfortable enough to talk about kissing the woman in the lyrics of his rhyme. However, in the documentary we learn he also received fellatio.

Most (if not all) people would agree on the importance of discussing sexual history with a new partner. This is something we’ve been advised to do as long as we’ve been advised to use a condom or get regularly checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Discussing sexual history consists of asking a new partner how many partners they’ve had in the past, if they know the sexual history of those partners, if they know if their past partners STI status, if they know what their STI status is, and how often they get tested. When applicable, knowing if whether the partner is transgendered (post or pre-operation) should be included in this checklist.

Knowing a partners sexual assignment/reassignment past should be seen in the same category as knowing their sexual history. Just as sexual history questions serve to protect your body from harm, this additional question helps protect not only your body but your emotional and mental health as well. That is “why” Dr. Bradley.

Its not a good idea to have any degree of secrecy and deception that may lead to mistrust in a committed relationship, short or long term. Just as it is a transgendered persons right to adjust their body as they see fit, it is everyone’s right to know the chromosomal makeup of a sexual partner.

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