By Amanda J.
I sometimes write posts several months before I send them to Kandi and they languish in a Word document waiting their turn, some unfinished and others complete but not ready for publication because I don’t think I’ve quite nailed down the issue I’m discussing. One or two sit there unpublished for no other reason than I fear the comments section filling up with declarations of ‘you’re on your own with that one ‘Mand’! Think of it as something akin to going on a two mile naked run every night at midnight – it’s probably very liberating, perhaps even exhilarating, good for the circulation but the sort of thing that could destroy your reputation in an instant if you admitted to it when in the company of others! And, before anyone asks, I am definitely not speaking from experience on this one!
The whole issue of attention from guys falls into that particular category as far as I am concerned because as soon as the subject is discussed, it’s very easy to be in the murky waters up to your neck if you admit to anything other than abject disgust about the whole thing. But then Trish posted a photo of her dancing with a guy and Gwen regaled us with an account of being asked for, and obliging with, a kiss and both of them lived to tell the tale with their dignities intact. And given that I have next to no dignity to start with, what have I got to lose even if it all goes horribly wrong?!!
So with that out of the way, let’s do a deep dive into the murky waters and look at the thorny issue of attention from guys.
Now that in itself could cause a lot of confusion on a site like this because of the chromosomal composition of the contributors here, despite appearances to the contrary! So guys in this context means guys who identify as guys and whose interest in all things trans is as a spectator, not a participant. I also want to stress that I’m writing this from the perspective of a heterosexual male who feels the need to cross the gender divide from time to time and some of what I write won’t be relevant to those further along the trans spectrum than I am.
So let’s begin. We probably all have, or have had, our social media platform of choice. I’m no longer active on social media but when I was, mine was Flickr but other places like TVChix, URNotAlone, YouTube, Facebook/ Instagram etc. also have their fans and, on all of them, there’s a common thread – we go all out to present the best possible view of ourselves. When posting photos or videos, we take a lot of care to post those which we hope make us look attractive – nice clothes, hair & makeup on point and, as far as is possible, any hint of what lies underneath hidden from prying eyes. Even when I’m having some personal Amanda-time, I want to look in the mirror and like what I see. I actually find doing ‘ugly bloke in a dress’ very easy but would rather spend an hour or two to achieve a rather more appealing outcome!
Of course, heterosexual guys are experts in what makes a woman attractive, at least from their point of view, and I’m no exception. I could list what I find attractive in a woman but there’s really no need – just go to the ‘contributors’ page, scroll down to the floozy in the yellow dress and that’s it in a nutshell. So, putting on my self-obsessed & delusional tart hat for a minute or two, if I look at that photo and like what I see, it’s reasonable to suppose that others may have a similar reaction.
Each social media platform has its own modus operandi but on Flickr, the general pattern is you post a picture and (hopefully) people see it and leave a comment telling you how nice you look. We get that warm and fuzzy feeling as ‘Zoe’ tells us how gorgeous we look, ‘Lucy’ compliments us on our outfit choice and when ‘Natasha’ (who, as her exotic name suggests, will look drop dead gorgeous) tells us we look sexy, our emotions go off the scale!
But what’s this? ‘Peter’ has just left a comment telling us how beautiful we are? Aaaargh, no. Hasn’t he read my bio that says ‘ABSOLUTELY NO MEN’? Probably not, actually. He was probably too busy gazing at the goddess in the photo (end of delusional bit)!
And that is the paradox – why do we gratefully accept compliments from other girls but recoil in horror if they come from a guy? Because, shock horror, under the surface, ‘Zoe’, ‘Lucy’, ‘Natasha’ and the rest of us share an awful lot more in common with Peter than we’d like anyone to believe. In fact in our normal lives, you’d be hard pressed to tell us apart, either from what we look like or from our personalities and opinions on the fairer sex.
There’s a straightforward answer, of course, and that’s that a girl to girl compliment is very different to a guy to girl compliment. But is that really valid in this context, firstly in the light of the ‘provenance’ of the girls of whom we talk and secondly because, if we’re giving a girl to girl compliment, we’re usually applying the same standards of attractiveness as we do in our ‘normal’ lives. In general, men are programmed to find women attractive – the survival of our species depends on it – and it does not depend on what they (men) happen to be wearing at the time! We may have dual personas but we have only one personality and it is that personality that drives the compliment not the persona we happen to be adopting at the time.
Now, I warned about murky waters at the outset and I already feel the tide rising around me so let’s stop and regroup for a moment. I’m not for one moment suggesting that to pay a compliment to another trans girl is an indication of any form of sexual motive or anything like that. I’m just saying that we don’t stop finding women attractive just because we’re either dressed as one or are identifying as our female persona at that particular moment.
Of course, there’s an unwritten convention on these sites that a girl to girl compliment is absolutely fine, notwithstanding the fact that both the girl giving the compliment and the girl receiving it have chromosomes of the ‘XY’ persuasion. Getting a compliment about how nice we look is an amazing boost to our ego so why do we lap it up if it’s from a girl but recoil in horror if it’s from a guy?
Of course, the obvious answer is that many of the guys who hang around trans forums are total sleasebags! They assume that all they have to do is to display a photo of their ‘manhood’ and every single member of the trans community will be begging them for more. They seem to think that women only exist to satisfy the needs of men and they are often members of groups with titles that leave no doubt as to their deplorable attitude to women. I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.
But ‘many guys’ does not mean ‘all guys’. It does not even mean ‘the majority of guys’ and it would be nice to think that the aforementioned deplorables are, overall, in the minority despite them being a widespread problem. So what about the rest? There are many guys who, for innocent reasons, are interested in the trans scene. We refer to them as ‘admirers’ or ‘tranny chasers’ with all the connotations that those epithets carry but do they really deserve that sort of moniker when their only ‘crime’ is to find us attractive and perhaps dare to tell us that we look nice? We don’t look down on guys who find women with a certain hair colour, or from particular races or with a specific clothing style attractive so why should those who find transwomen attractive, particularly given the amount of effort we put in to our presentation, be treated differently?
So the question is – how should we react if the aforementioned ‘Peter’ looks at our photo and tells us that we look nice?
And that’s the dilemma – or guylemma as I think we should call it!
First off, many girls put ‘no guys’ in their social media bios and I was no exception. That’s all very well but there are a couple of problems. Firstly reading the bio is not something many do before commenting on a photo. If someone looks interesting, we may wish to see what they have to say about themself but we don’t check every time to ensure that we fit their preferred profile to leave a comment. And then, let’s face it, being told that we’re attractive is the best validation of our feminine status that we can hope for, particularly if it comes from the gender that, had things been different with our birth, we would probably be looking at as husband material (to be clear, I’m talking about the male gender in general, not specifically those members of it who lurk on trans themed websites)! And any girl who posts a photo of herself accompanied by a guy will often be rewarded with a deluge of comments expressing a little envy and/or saying what a lovely couple they make.
And, as I continue to feel the murky waters rising up around me, I’ll make a few confessions about myself. The first is that I, like many CDers, have on occasion wondered what it would be like to go on a date or be the wife in a heterosexual relationship. It’s not something I would ever contemplate doing for a number of reasons, the main one being that I’m married, closely followed by a total lack of interest in any romantic liaison with a guy. But seeing myself dressed in a way that (a) I find attractive and (b) I would have hoped that any woman male me took on a date would have dressed is a powerful emotional image.
The second confession is that when I was active on Flickr, I received compliments on photos I posted and messages from guys and I agonised over what to do about them. I place a great value on ‘Amanda’s’ interactions with others and have a personal belief that if someone has taken the trouble to reach out, it’s only polite to reply. As far as other girls are concerned, I only failed to do that twice, both times because I felt that they’d strayed into territory that I was uncomfortable with. But with messages from guys – and I received several very nice ones – it was a different story but one that I agonised over.
And the third confession is that, to all intents and purposes, I have been one of those guys. I may have had a history of crossdressing but while I was still respecting the terms of the promise to cease & desist that I made to my wife in 2014, I was active on trans sites and paying girls compliments. Nowadays, the few photos that I post here leave no doubt as to which side of the road I walk on but, whilst I had had a history of CDing, at that time I was not actively doing it. I could say that that history and calling myself ‘Amanda’ were sufficient to prove that I was in the girl camp but would others view it that way? In fact several did not and blocked me as a result. And that also raises the question of how many guys adopt a feminine name in an attempt to gain immunity from accusation as a chaser/admirer?
The fact of the matter is that guys have nowhere to hide. We may pay a girl a compliment for no other reason than we think that she is absolutely beautiful (despite being a guy underneath and not because of it) but we can always hide behind the implied innocence of the girl to girl dynamic. Guys have no such protection and so any comment immediately arouses suspicion. In many cases, that suspicion is justified but not always and the unfortunate thing is that, as far as they are concerned, we often don’t differentiate. And sadly, no matter how heartfelt their compliment was, they never received a reply from me.
And when I say ‘sadly’, I mean it. I would have loved to have felt comfortable thanking them for taking the trouble to leave a comment. I would have loved to have told them that reading what they wrote really made my day. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to have a friendly discussion about trans issues with someone who was genuinely interested but had a different perspective to mine. But I didn’t because from my point of view, it’s wholly inappropriate to interact with anyone who displays even the slightest hint of attraction when I am in a marriage which has already endured for over three decades. And that’s before we add the gender role reversal into the mix. In guy mode, I wouldn’t dream of engaging on online discussion about her looks and lifestyle with a woman so why should things be any different when the roles are reversed?
But the whole thing is really a sad indictment of this whole issue. Any guy who dares to tell us that he appreciates what we do is automatically tarred with the same brush as the reprehensibles who think that our life won’t be complete until we’ve experienced a photo or two of them in all their glory. And how are those same guys who do show us the respect we crave as females often rewarded? With labels like ‘tranny chaser’ or ‘admirer’. We could coin a new term for those guys who are interested in the trans scene and who show respect but never overstep the mark but it’d only be a matter of time before it became synonymous with all of the other less than complimentary terms in use.
So guys, if you’re still reading, you’re destined to stay misunderstood and sidelined as a result. It’s not easy living on the trans spectrum and what we choose to post & share with the world is often only a tiny part of our lives – lives that are often complex due to the need to manage our two sides in a way that doesn’t hurt others. But show us the respect that you would want to be shown in return and you can be assured that the compliments you give and messages you send will be appreciated and will quite possibly make our day, even if we don’t feel able to acknowledge them and thank you personally.