On Cissexism and Sexual Entitlement

I’ve begun to wonder why there isn’t more attention given toward the overlap between trans and ace issues.

Connections with and comparisons to the LGBT community abound, of course, since we consider asexuality a sexual orientation, and there’s plenty of aces who are gay, bi, and trans, besides.  But that’s usually spoken about in terms of “the LGBT community” at its broadest and most general, rather than trans communities in specific.

Which I’ve been thinking about because one of the most common manifestations of cissexism, right, is the assumption that anyone can/should be able to tell someone’s gender by looking at them, plus the invasive fixation on trans people’s genitals — because cis people’s genitals are assumed to be known, right, and trans people are the aberrational mystery, the conundrum that must be resolved, because the configuration of one’s genitals is supposed to be public information, and it’s as if everyone, even strangers, is at all times being assessed as a potential sexual partner, whether they would want to be or not.

And I would think we, as aces, would have more to say about that.

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5 responses to “On Cissexism and Sexual Entitlement

  • luvtheheaven

    You raise a really good point.

    I could be way off about the following things, but just as a general observation as a cis-person who’s only been on the fringes of trans discourse…

    I think it also is relatively common for both trans people and asexual folks to go through a period of considering maybe they’re gay, before realizing the actual answer to how to classify their own identity. If you know something’s different about you, and you feel some degree of non-cisnormative/non-heteronormative but you haven’t really been taught the nuances of what it means to be trans or ace… idk. It makes sense in my head. I mean I’ve come across a few different people who have had the narratives “I thought I was gay/lesbian” before they got to the trans or ace label.

    There are also all sorts of misconceptions, like the idea that all trans people feel like the “opposite” gender trapped in some stranger’s body. There are some trans people who feel that way, but it’s not really a universal narrative, some trans people feel like it is their body, they might not like their body if they’re dysphoric but they still don’t have that feeling of “yes, exactly, it’s like I was born into someone else’s body” – they still consider their bodies to be “them”. I’ve seen that discussion, how some trans people took a while to realize they could still count as completely and totally trans even if they felt like their body was theirs and not a stranger’s….

    …and it kind of reminds me of the ace narratives of “I thought I couldn’t possibly be ace because I did experience aesthetic or romantic or some other kind of attraction, and I thought you couldn’t be attracted to anyone if you were asexual, I didn’t realize there were different types of attraction” or other similar types of situations people can find themselves in, like “I thought in order to be asexual you must not masturbate” or something.

  • epochryphal

    One would think. Especially given its prevalence at the Ace Unconference last year: epochryphal.tumblr.com/post/89527887657/today-was-the-annual-ace-unconference-i-met-some

  • Calum P Cameron

    Oh, good lord. Yes.

    I had this… acquaintance, I guess he was at the time (if I recall correctly he’d already dropped out of the ‘friend’ category because I found out he’d made unsolicited comments to a sexual abuse survivor, but for a variety of reasons – most of them dumb – I hadn’t stopped talking to the guy yet) who literally argued to me that it was better if everyone conformed to a visibly-identifiable gender, purely because then it was easier for him to flirt with strangers without threatening his reputation as a heterosexual.

    I mean, he didn’t say it in EXACTLY those words – I don’t even remember the precise wording – but, like, he was totally OPEN about it. He didn’t even TRY to pretend to have some more reasonable motive going on. And this guy knew I was ace, I think he knew I was sex-averse, he definitely knew some of my closest loved ones were severely sex-repulsed, and I’m pretty sure he knew I had some very close trans friends – he had in fact MET one of my closest non-binary-gender friends. And this was him effectively claiming all gender should be binary and outwardly obvious purely because it made it more convenient to make unsolicited sexual advances on total strangers. And expecting me to find that reasonable.

    I don’t even remember how I responded to that one. I think there were too many levels of WTF for me to unpack them all, but I do recall that at some point the conversation did quite rapidly descend into me screaming about privilege for some number of hours and generally attempting to verbally carve the guy up. All in all, it did not go well (although I will not deny it was occasionally cathartic, particularly when a feminist lawyer friend also got involved).

    Point is, the two sets of issues have a huge and obvious overlap and I do not know why I did not realise that earlier.

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