Two Canadian researchers recently asked almost 1000 cisgender folks if they would date a trans person in a new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. This is the first study to ever attempt to quantify the extent of trans discrimination when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships.The essay is therefore going to base a lot of its conclusions on a small sample, that's always trouble.
958 participants (all but seven cisgender, ranging in age from 18 to 81, with an average age of 26) were asked to indicate which genders they would consider dating. The options included cisgender man, cisgender woman, trans man, trans woman, or genderqueer, and participants could select as many genders as they wanted.
"Dating," however, is the contemporary locution for "establishing relationship material," and in some circles, it might still be "auditioning potential spouses," that is to say, there might be a future mom and dad involved.
Those who would consider dating a trans person didn’t differ in race/ethnicity, but were somewhat older, more likely to hold a university degree, and, unsurprisingly, less likely to be religious than those who would not date a trans person. But some of the most striking differences were in regards to participants’ gender and sexual orientation.There's probably some fancy statistical analysis a researcher could engage in to model "dating for the purpose of starting a family" as part of the response rate, albeit with a smallish sample, what the researcher gains in technique he loses in precision. But precision might not be what the researcher is after. Rod Dreher notes,
Virtually all heterosexuals excluded trans folks from their dating pool: only 1.8% of straight women and 3.3% of straight men chose a trans person of either binary gender. But most non-heterosexuals weren’t down for dating a trans person either, with only 11.5% of gay men and 29% of lesbians being trans-inclusive in their dating preferences. Bisexual/queer/nonbinary participants (these were all combined into one group) were most open to having a trans partner, but even among them, almost half (48%) did not select either ‘trans man’ or ‘trans woman.’
I thought one’s sexual tastes were supposed to be free from the judgment of others. Now Social Justice Warriors are telling us that if you don’t want to have sexual congress with a man posing as a woman, or vice versa, that you are a bigot?Yes, or that there's a material difference between interacting civilly with a person at work, or discussing the relative merits of political claims, or dealing a few hands at cards, and dating.
The failure of reality to contort itself to fit the radically disordered desires of a relative handful of people who happen to have allies in high places does nothing to help this radical minority live in peace. I can easily imagine the pain a transgendered person suffers when, after having mutilated his or her body, they discover that most people don’t actually believe they are who they say they are. True, people might say that “sure, you’re a woman now” if you ask, but that doesn’t mean they really believe it. If they did, you wouldn’t be seeing these poll numbers.
It takes the author of the original complaint a long time to get around to recognizing that difference, and to conceding the small-sample limitations of the study.
The high rates of trans exclusion from potential dating pools are undoubtedly due in part to cisnormativity, cissexism, and transphobia — all of which lead to lack of knowledge about transgender people and their bodies, discomfort with these unknowns, and fear of being discriminated against by proxy of one’s romantic partner. It is also possible that at least some of the trans exclusion is due to the fact that for some people, sexual orientation might be not (just) about a partner’s gender identity, but attraction to specific body types and/or judgment of reproductive capabilities.Yes, it's hard to generalize based on a small, self-selected survey (who knows how many people sent in fake responses), and it's even harder to spell out equality among people who are in different circumstances. Equalizing opportunity in employment or on the party scene is hard enough. The post isn't quite arguing for a positive right to sex, but it comes close.
Of course, this is just one study with a non-representative sample (participants were recruited using online advertisements, listserv messages, on-campus announcements, in-print magazine ads, snowballing methods, and invitations sent to previous study participants), so more research is needed to understand the extent of this form of trans exclusion and the reasons driving it.
But despite the limitations, these results clearly indicate that although the visibility of transgender people is on the rise, we still have a long way to go to reach trans equality.
Here's the problem: there are organizing principles for human interaction. Three are salient to analyzing the essay.
First, people act on what they perceive to be their best interests. Those perceptions structure behavior differently if the interaction is a hand of cards or a conversation about the merits of the infield fly rule, as opposed to an interview for a long-term relationship.
Second, interaction will be more productive where there is mutual benefit. Those mutual benefits are more likely to be present in conventional males dating females, all the talk about a multiplicity of socially constructed genders notwithstanding.
Third, a discussion of mutual benefit must include understanding of what participants in an exchange stand to lose by not exchanging. The author of the opinion piece too quickly imposes her priors: the made-up crimes of cisnormativity, cissexism, and transphobia must be present.
Perhaps the current set of social norms might be unduly restrictive, or perhaps in ten or twenty thousand years of human interaction, we've gotten a few things right.
Here, though, I fear the author of the essay has forgotten a maxim that might be instructive: if you think that you alone are sane and the rest of the world has gone nuts, you might want to check your premises. On the one hand, for mutually beneficial exchange to emerge, people have to think about the interests of others, perhaps ahead of their own interests. Here, for instance, a crosser might want to reflect that others deserve the same respect for their understanding of their identity that the crosser values, and thus heterosexual dating is simply people acting on that understanding, and respecting that understanding on the part of potential partners.
On the other hand, without innovations, there is stagnation. For now, it's not clear what non-crossing participants in the dating pool lose by not establishing relationships with crossers. It's tough for the crossers, yes, but hectoring and invoking invented thought-crimes aren't likely to persuade many people to expand their dating pools.
I'll give The Phantom Soapbox the final words.
To be clear, for the army of outrage seeking dickheads out there, this is not posted for the purpose of mocking Trans people. Those people have enough trouble in their lives without me making fun of them. Leave the Trans people alone, ladies and gentlemen, it is the proper Christian thing to do. Being merciful is never wasted, as somebody besides me should have said a long time ago.Crossing is a relatively recent phenomenon, and the fractures among the crossers and the G and the B and the L are only going to get worse.
Bad social science surviving peer review, however, is mockworthy. "I am mocking Dr. Zhana Vrangalova for being a fraud, and I am mocking Cornell University for giving this moron a PhD."
Indeed, and deplorable-shaming and virtue signalling aren't going to flip the party scene.
Knowledge of gay people hasn't changed the percentage of gays in the population in the last 30 years, and it hasn't made straights any more likely to date them. More "education", by which I actually mean browbeating and propaganda, will do nothing positive and will probably make things worse.Particularly, to repeat, to the extent that dating is a form of interviewing.
People like what they like. Fashions change, but the ground state of dating choices does not. Anybody tells you different, put a hand on your wallet and #walkaway.
As far as Dr Vrangalova, "Implicitly, the non-conformist remains a moral and productive person, seeking to persuade by changing minds rather than to frighten by ending lives."