What Ginuwine's Assault Reveals About Trans Women
More Than The Surface
Recently on Big Brother UK, singer Ginuwine is being wrung out to dry and vilified as transphobic. Why? Because he said he wouldn't date a transsexual woman. The contestants on Big Brother were discussing men's sexuality and how it's "fragile masculinity that takes something away from them being with a trans woman," as one person noted. And that sexuality is viewed on a binary spectrum, that either you're attracted men or women and there's no in between. Although debates on whether bisexuality is real and whether or not someone could be attracted to both men and women are still speculative, I don't believe that's quite the issue at all. As a matter of fact, the Big Brother clip of Ginuwine rejecting India Willoughby reveals bigger problems regarding trans women.
Willoughby, 51, a transsexual woman born Jonathan, transitioned from male-to-female five years ago. Willoughby even has a teenage son. In the article Who is India Willoughby?, India told Best Magazine that "she felt like she was always a girl and the 'boys' clothes felt like a straitjacket to her." Also that she spent "five years leading a double life." Willoughby expressed grievances dating while trans, particularly when men find out about her past and don't see her as a woman.
When Ginuwine spoke, he was specific in that it's a person's preference on who they want to date. "And then I believe it's your choice too. I would chose not to. Like that doesn't make me scared." This isn't enough for Willoughby though. She manipulates the definition of woman and asks Ginuwine if he would date a transsexual woman. He gives her an unequivocal "No, no." Willoughby, who somehow believes Ginuwine is wrong, delcares, "I am a woman. Forget about any Ts, I'm just a woman, okay?" Willoughby goes on a tirade stating that she doesn't have to disclose being trans to a potential lover, and directing towards Ginuwine again, asks him if she said she was a woman, would he date her. "If you were a woman, woman. Yeah." Willoughby pulls Ginuwine towards her for a kiss, but he resists. Quite a few things are wrong with this situation.
Being Female Is Not A Feeling
Rewinding back to Willoughby's transition and the statement she made in Best Magazine - the whole "felt like a girl" sentiment. Human females don't feel like girls or women. Being a biological female is not a feeling and it sounds degrading to say otherwise. For the record, let's say I felt stupid because of a poor choice I made in my life. Going to a counselor and undergoing an assessment, they might say I have low self-esteem - not that I'm mentally handicap. Making a poor judgement call and being mentally handicap aren't the same things. One is controllable and the other isn't. And more so, since when does wearing an article of clothing make one a man or woman? There are women who wear pantsuits and men who wear skirts. There are no hard and fast rules as to what a person should like to wear - man or woman, boy or girl. What I believe this to be is that Willoughby felt she couldn't be taken seriously as a man wearing heels or dresses, but that as a woman she could.
The Reality of Dating
Another point is that dating sucks for both men and women. People have the right to put up boundaries on who they will or won't date. Having preferences is exclusionary - not inherently hatred. The same person who could date someone blind or deaf might not be able to handle dating someone in a wheelchair. It isn't "fatphobic" if someone doesn't find overweight women attractive. In the LGBT community, trans women have a bad reputation for guilting and coercing lesbians into sex. In the article Etiquette For People Who Aren't Attracted To Trans Women, Oxymandias suggests saying "I am not attracted to trans people" is hurtful and to shut up about it. Then follows up with saying dating shouldn't be exclusionary and that lesbians in particular who aren't interested in trans women don't get to decide if trans women are lesbians. In other words, a lesbian being attracted to other women is a no-no and according to Ozymandias "bad." There are many people in this world who don't mind being with someone trans as long as they look the sex they claim membership to. Or perhaps they're just more open-minded. On the other spectrum there are those who don't necessarily wish harm up trans people, but want a biological man or woman. Willoughby is a biological man and Ginuwine said he wasn't interested. That's where the line was drawn.
What It Might've Looked Like the Other Way Around
The biggest part of all which bothered me the most was when Willoughby went in for a kiss and Ginuwine rebuffed her advances. Out of all the stories in the news about sexual misconduct with Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, and Harvey Weinstein, dozens of women have spoken up about having been assaulted. What's the difference here with Ginuwine? He has the right to exercise agency over his body. He has the right to say no. Who he wants to kiss is purely his decision to make and not anyone else's. And what he didn't want to do was caught on live television. If Ginuwine had tried to kiss Willoughby without her consent, major news outlets would've put Ginuwine in the among the ranks of Trump, Weinstein, and Cosby. But since his views don't conform or align to Willoughby's and those championing her, he's transphobic. He's in the wrong, not her.
Something else that isn't often mentioned with issues concerning trans women is autogynephilia, which is the arousal men feel thinking they're women. Willoughby did mention the rejection when men find out her past. But aside from the male-centeredness that Willoughby exudes, I've noticed that trans women not only do their damnedest to model a woman's image, but also model the pornographic images of women. Carmen Carrera and Gigi Gorgeous are two trans woman that come to mind. Furthermore, Willoughby was spurned that straight men don't find her desirable. Considering that Willoughby feels above reproach and entitled, men tend to believe women are designed to be appealing to them. Willoughby has admitted to fancying women's clothing and "feeling" female, which sounds closer to a fetish than a legitimate identity. Somewhere inside, Willoughby is upset that she isn't sexualized in the way women are "supposed" to be.
Pay Attention To the Unseen
No one is obligated to like anything because it's politically correct. No one should be guilted into sex or dating because of the insecurities and shortcomings of a suitor. Most of all, intentionally blindsiding assault, such as the one pertaining to Ginuwine, and treating trans women as above the rest of society reinforces they can still carry male privilege, despite presenting as women. As long as they can get others to rally behind them, they're slowly able to rewrite history and change reality in the way they see fit. Let's not let a glorified fantasy overlook sexual violence.
Sources and Resources
© 2018 AP Petty