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Note: As most trans women we know (including ourselves) were appalled at the statements described below, Erica and I decided to write a joint response to Buck Angel’s recent interview on Salon.

Prominent trans man porn star and sex-positive activist Buck Angel recently introduced a new online dating site He also gave an interview (titled “The Trans Man of Your Dreams”) with Tracy Clark-Flory of promoting his dating site, in which Buck emphasized that one of his primary goals was to avoid fetishization of trans men. Buck is quoted as saying:

That is because I have been getting so many requests … about how to meet guys, how to meet transmen. … I’ve been wanting to do it for years, but I hadn’t found a company that I felt was going to respect [that] it wasn’t going to be a place where we’re freaks and guys are just gonna come gawk at us and fetishize us.

So far, so good. As trans women, both of us agree completely that fetishization of trans people’s bodies is gross and hurtful and providing trans men a place to get away from that certainly sounds like a worthy endeavor.

Tracy later asks whether the site is only for people interested in meeting trans men, to which Buck replies, “Of course, I specifically marketed it that way, because that’s who I am and that’s what I know,” [emphasis added] while clarifying that he is attempting to accommodate people from a wide range of genders on his dating site. Okay, that seems reasonable as well. Buck is a trans man; so trans man experiences are probably those to which he can most immediately speak. We agree.

Tracy then asks about the usage of the phrases “FTM” and “MTF” on the dating site, noting that many people object to these terms or find them inaccurate. Buck replies, “What are you gonna do? I push people’s buttons daily, so there’s not much I can do other than make it as positive as possible.” Well, whatever. It’s for good reason that a lot of people do find those terms offensive, including both of the present authors; however, Buck can describe himself and his customers however they like (just don’t ever apply those terms to us, please).

However, Buck continues in a somewhat different direction,

It’s very difficult for trans people to go into a bar and find someone to hook up with because they don’t necessarily want to out themselves right away. It’s a very different experience on the site, you get it all out there in the open right away. You would be amazed at how that makes dating or hooking up so much easier.

Whoa, hold on a second here. Is Buck really trying to speak for the universal experience of trans people in bars? Cause we have to think, there has to be a pretty wide range of variety in that. And let’s think about this for a second, because Buck previously stated that what he knows best is his own experience as a trans man. So how can he possibly speak for everyone, including trans women, under the generalization “trans people”?

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In a recent post on Lexie Cannes’ blog, Lexie draws attention to a disturbing case in Sweden involving a cis man who attacked and sexually assaulted a non-op or pre-op trans woman, possibly under the assumption that she was cis (however, I think we should be careful when dealing with that assumption… it’s always possible that the man knew she was trans all along and just created a different story after the fact).

According to Lexie’s English reconstruction from the original Swedish, what happened is that “The attacker brutally beat the victim and ripped off her pants in an attempt to rape her. A witness rushed to the scene and intervened. The police came and arrested the attacker.” Nevertheless, in court the judge “acquitted the rapist because the transwoman had no vagina [and hence] the planned rape would have been impossible to carry out.” The man was apparently convicted of a lessor charge (battery or similar).

I think most any trans woman would be horrified by this result, which seems to suggest that rape doesn’t count when it is committed (or at least intended) against a trans woman (then again I think most people who are simply compassionate would be horrified by this outcome). For one thing, the idea that the woman doesn’t have a vagina means that it is not possible for the man to rape her is completely absurd. It projects a very simplistic picture of what sex even is onto what may well be a much more complex situation (believe it or not, penis-in-vagina is not the end-all, be-all of sexual intercourse).

However, I think in the larger picture of things this is about more than protecting trans women from sexual assault. In fact, I think this case sets an absurdly high standard for what is required to obtain a sexual assault (or intended rape or sexual assault) conviction almost regardless of who the victim is.

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