Guest Columnist Sage Fox counsels a woman who fears her husband may be fetishizing his new beau!
I'm a straight cisgender woman in my late forties, and my husband and I have been in a healthy, happy open marriage for the past seven years. However, I've been struggling with a recent development within his dating life.
A few months ago he disclosed to me that he liked watching porn featuring transgender women. I have absolutely no issue with this. Trans women are legitimate women, and his desire for their bodies doesn't scare, confuse or threaten me in any way. I even encouraged him to seek out local trans women in our community to connect with.
Now that he's been on a few dates with a trans woman, though, I wish I could take it back. I feel like my husband is fetishizing this woman, and I don't know what my 'responsibility' is here. When he talks to me about her, the conversation is almost exclusively about her physical attributes and what he wants to do sexually with her. It sounds very much like he's expecting her to be just like the women he watches in porn, and it makes me feel weird and sad and gross. How do I talk to my husband about my concerns, if it's even my place to do so?
Let me see if I can help you untangle this a bit. To answer your last question first, yes, you should talk to him and it is absolutely your place to do so. You’re his wife. If you don’t speak with him about this, who will?
From what you’ve described it sounds like he’s developed a fairly classic trans fetish. Now, don’t get me wrong, fetishes by definition aren’t necessarily good or bad. There are plenty of healthy and fun fetishes and as long as no one is being harmed in the pursuit or enjoyment of that fetish – have at it! However, there’s a big difference between a fetish for latex or bondage and a fetish that objectifies an individual or group and reduces them from a WHO to a WHAT.
Like many women, we trans women too often have a challenging relationship with our bodies, and if we’re pre-operative or non-operative we’re forced to mentally and emotionally grapple with the challenge of having a penis. While we’re struggling with the conflict of a physical body that may be incongruous with our innate knowledge of our womanhood, along comes someone that wants us for the very thing we dislike most about ourselves; and the last thing we want to be wanted for.
“Trans” is just another adjective describing an aspect of some women, and having an attraction to trans women in particular is just as healthy and acceptable as having an attraction to women that are short, tall, skinny, black, white, educated, athletic, etc. when that attraction is primarily based on who they are with that describing aspect being secondary.
I will admit that that long before I had bottom surgery I made peace with my body and recognized that I had a woman’s penis. And I thoroughly enjoyed making full use of what I had while I had it. But my experience, while not wholly unique, is often the exception, not the rule. Not only can most pre/non-op trans women NOT get or maintain the erections seen in porn most have no desire to fuck a guy with their penis even if they can. (And being pegged is the most common desire among men that fetishize trans women.)
But let’s flip the script a bit. I have a long-time lover that I connected with when I was pre-op and have continued to see after my own surgery. He’s not attracted to men but enjoys being pegged and tells me he would love to connect with a pre-op trans woman that would be willing to do so. Having known this man for years as a friend and as a lover I can honestly say he’s not fetishizing anyone in an unhealthy way. He treats every lover with care and compassion and is empathetic and understanding of each person’s needs and challenges. While he often tells me the many sexual things he wants to do to me when next we meet, he has never made me feel objectified. He may have a fetish for certain acts, but he has never fetishized, objectified, or dehumanized a person in the pursuit of those acts.
I’m sure your husband is a good man and a decent human being that may be caught up in the excitement of a new kink or fetish. The fact you can celebrate that without worry speaks to the health of yourself and of your relationship. But sit him down and speak as a woman about the problems with objectifying and dehumanizing women. Have an honest conversation about what he’s after and where his new partner is in her life and in her transition. Maybe he has a genuine attraction to her and is afraid to admit that to himself. Or maybe the two of them are both interested in a great sexual relationship and are fine with the assumed roles. Regardless, it sounds like there’s an overdue conversation needing to take place.
Sage Fox is a queer trans woman pursuing her PhD in Media Psychology and is a former military officer and disabled veteran with multiple tours. She’s been active in the poly and kink lifestyles for six years and has been a civil rights activist for the last seven years. She’s raised more children than she cares to recall and is currently enjoying her new status as a grandmother.