Laverne Cox has discussed the stigma around men who love trans women.Though I don’t necessarily agree that they are more stigmatized than the actual trans women they’re involved with, I do know that they deal with their own specific struggle.We rarely discuss the fact that often trans women are killed at the hands of their lovers or romantic or sexual partners, like Ty Underwood, a black trans woman, who was allegedly shot and murdered by a man she’d briefly been dating.
When information that rapper Tyga was caught in a scandal with transgender model Mia Isabella, for instance, social media had a field day.Given his presence in the hypermasculine world of hip-hop, that moment highlighted the deep-rooted issues our society has with men being attracted to trans women.He made jokes about me and how I “used to be a man,” criticized my writing and activism, and even — the grand offense — used my birth name during arguments. Having to constantly define and explain myself is both exhausting and unfair.I feel like I have to share my entire life story early on — a situation in dating that we’re often told to avoid at the risk of being too overwhelming.That didn’t stop the intense expression of confusion that spread across his face.“So you’re a man? “Do you know how lucky you are that I’m not, like, crazy?
Because I know plenty of guys who would really do some shit to you.”“No, I’m a woman, a transgender woman,” I answered, trying to make him understand. His entire view of me had changed and there was no going back.He was pretty homophobic and transphobic when I originally met him, which he attributed to his upbringing.He was a black guy, of Jamaican descent, and he often explained that coming from a single-mother household put more pressure on him to be a certain kind of man.After a number of dates and situations not too unlike the interaction with the MMA fighter, I had to take a serious look at the risk involved with not disclosing my trans status.I found early disclosure necessary because we live in a world where trans panic is still justification for devaluing and even harming trans women.So far this year, at least 18 trans women have been killed in the U.