Disinfo.com editor’s note: This classic report by Russ Kick was originally published on this site on Feb. 10, 2001. Some external links may have changed.
One of the greatest things about sexuality is its anarchic nature. The more you learn about sexual practices, the more you see that sex simply refuses to be tamed, boxed-in, classified, or even understood.
To pick just one of many examples, consider the case of the so-called “she-males.”
“She-males” is one of the names given to men who appear to be women in all ways except one. They have breasts, usually small and perky but sometimes fairly large, apparently thanks to silicone implants. Their faces can have traces — sometimes large traces — of masculinity, but the most amazing ones look for all the world like beautiful women.
In fact, the best she-males — with long, slender legs and sleek tummies — would lead you to believe that they’re complete babes … until you see the schlong between their legs.
She-males are actually pre-operative male-to-female transsexuals. That is, they’re men who are in the process of becoming women, usually through hormone treatment. At some point they may or may not have sex-reassignment surgery (AKA “a sex-change operation”) to have their genitals made into a vagina. But for right now, they combine femininity with big-dickedness.
If you look in the sex section of many alternative weekly newspapers, you’ll see tons of ads for she-males. Porn mags aimed at straight men, such as Hustler, often have ads for she-male porn and phone sex. (Of course, what are the odds that the person on the other end of the line is really a transsexual?). And the Web is loaded with sites like All Nude Shemales, Hegals.com, She’s Got a Dick, Well-Hung Ladies, and TrannyPalooza. Yahoo! alone lists almost 90 she-male galleries that charge for access. It’s obvious that there’s quite a market for sexually explicit material featuring transsexuals, but it’s a bit less obvious that the main audience for transsexual porn is straight men.
After all, gay men are attracted to men, not women who have penises. As the “Myths about Transsexualism” document at Sexuality.org notes, “[G]ay men do not usually like transsexuals.” A question on this topic posted to the Y?Forum Web site (which takes an honest look at stereotypical traits of various groups) yielded answers from several gay men, all of whom testified that they and all the gay men they know are not attracted to male-to-female transsexuals or transvestites (i.e., men who wear women’s clothes).
J. Michael Bailey, Associate professor of Psychology at Northwestern University, gained insight from a Chicago-area transsexual: “The gay community rejects transsexuals, according to Alberta, because ‘they’re jealous that we get to have sex with straight men.’” Further on, Bailey writes, “The transsexuals I know who worked as she-male prostitutes confirmed this [that their johns are usually heterosexual men]. ‘There was nothing gay about those men,’ said one, who knows plenty about gay men.” One she-male prostitute interviewed by Bailey said that the most common sex act performed with her johns is fellatio, with her on the receiving end.
A letter writer on The Gay Gene Web site, run by Chandler Burr, the author of A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation (New York: Hyperion, 1996), notes: “Walter L. Williams (a gay anthropologist) remarks that he has spoken with a number of biologically male people who pass for female, but have not actually gotten sex-change surgery. He says that these people, when developing relationships with boyfriends, do not mention that they have male genitalia until the last possible moment (in one case, not until the wedding night). At the point of this revelation, the boyfriends–who would identify themselves as heterosexual–will go on to have a sexual relationship about ninety percent of the time.”
Legendary trash-flick director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Cecil B. DeMented) has commented on the subject, saying in an interview, “I know that drag queens and transsexuals are always chased by men who seem to identify as being straight. And most of the transvestites I know in America have told me that straight men want transvestites to fuck them up the
ass . . .”
Naturally, in the midst of all this horniness, it needs to be emphasized that this fetishization of pre-op transsexuals quickly becomes degrading. The very name “she-males” and its synonyms–including “chicks with dicks,” “he-shes,” “its,” and “trannies”–are meanspirited to varying degrees, to say nothing of Web sites like Bizarre Tranz, Sick Transsexuals, and Sexyfreaks.com. Then again, how much Webporn of any variety is uplifting?
Still, it’s hard to imagine those who are attracted to disabled people referring to them as “crips” and “gimps.” And I don’t see any Latin-porn Web sites calling themselves All Nude Spics. What makes it OK to be so demeaning to transsexuals? Surely it ties in with prejudice against those who cross gender and/or sexual boundaries, a prejudice that is still more socially acceptable than those based on race, nationality, or disability.
But as I said in the beginning, sexuality is anarchic. It doesn’t always conform to notions of political correctness, never mind human kindness. It may not even conform to your idea of who you are, which is why so many straight guys find themselves drooling over a cock when it’s attached to an attractive (apparent) woman.
The sizable hetero market for she-males is yet another example of the lawlessness of the erotic autobahn that stretches from our brains to our genitals.