neglected field is the sexual orientation of male-to-female transsexual
women. This is actually very surprising given the
social importance of "sex" and sexuality, and it's presumably deliberate
incorporation in the term "transsexual".
Even if a woman
is known as being a transsexual, a heterosexual inclination is generally
expected by society, and other orientation may present problems.
Grossly simplifying things, transsexual women often seem to adopt one of
two "safe" options - heterosexual relationships with men, or lesbian
relationships with a former female partner or other transsexual women.
Her own true sexual preferences may, or may not, play a role in the
95% of natal "XX" women consider themselves as being
heterosexual. In comparison, studies
of the sexual orientation of post-SRS transsexual women indicate a
rather different picture:
(right) and wife Georgiana Browning
& Täschner, 1989 [Note 1]
Schmitt & Bergner, 1991
(20%) + 1
& Need, 1989
Körlin & Uddenberg, 1986
kept SRS secret from partners
& Junge, 1990
kept SRS secret from partners)
& Thuwe, 1975
1: The allocation of "1 Lesbian" and "2
Bisexual" is done by myself in order to make the totals add
"rule of thumb" I've seen is that about half of transsexual women are
heterosexual and exclusively select males as sexual partners; nearly
one-fifth are lesbian and sexually attracted only to females; and about
one-third are bisexual. The figures above rather disagree with
this breakdown, from them it would seem more accurate to say that about two thirds
of post-SRS women are heterosexuals, and the remainder are lesbian or
bisexual. Also, an inexact
analysis of the available evidence would suggest that a large
proportion of MTF transsexuals who transition while still under age 30
categorise themselves as a heterosexual woman, while sexual orientations
tend to be far more diverse among transition'ers over 30.
Post-SRS heterosexual transwomen fall in to two main
categories - those that were homosexual (or bisexual) men before SRS and have
simply continued to select males as their sexual partners, and
those that changed their sexual preference from women to men
after their SRS.
Jennifer Hiloudaki with male friend
Jacquie Gavin and husband Stephen Gavin
Stringer and friend
Packer (formally Martin) with wife Linda (right)
(left) and Natasha
transsexual post-SRS heterosexual women are former homosexual
men driven to have a sex change by their sexual
preferences. The theory is that as men, these individuals unambiguously
desired and loved other men - especially heterosexual men - but
they could only attract and enter in to relationships with them
by becoming women. Regardless
of how correct the "some transsexuals are a type of
homosexuals" theory is, it certainly doesn't
account for all the heterosexual transwomen, and other factors
must be considered.
One such factor may be hormones, the radical hormonal changes in
the body of a transwoman, to approximately female norms after
orchidectomy or SRS, might give a push towards a heterosexual
Observers often consider that on average transsexual women are more
"female than [genetic] females" in their
life style and social beliefs, and a few (usually those that transition in middle age)
do seem to be almost a living stereotype of the feminine ideal. Some transwomen undoubtedly strongly feel that as a woman they should
only want to have sexual relations with a man, and in this
instance any residual sexual attraction to women rather than men
becomes both unimportant and something to be suppressed.
Going further, for a few transsexual women (like for some
genetic women), marriage and even motherhood via the adoption of
children becomes their overriding goal, and perhaps an ultimate
symbol and proof of their womanhood. Indeed, the Stepford Wives
may be still be alive and well - albeit transsexuals!
While most heterosexual transwomen are heterosexual for reasons
of choice and preference, it seems likely that
in some instances the adoption of a heterosexual
orientation is closely related to the transsexual woman's
success in passing and assimilating herself as a woman.
Based upon the limited available evidence it can be suspected:
The younger a woman's age at SRS, the more likely a
heterosexual female orientation will be, the obvious corollary
being that the greater the woman's age at SRS, the more likely a
lesbian or bisexual orientation is.
The more "passable" a woman is (which is
partly linked to her age at the time of SRS), the more
likely a heterosexual orientation is. It seems that
for a variety of reasons about half of the women who were once
heterosexual man (i.e. were exclusively sexually attracted to women) before
their SRS, are heterosexual women afterwards (i.e. are
exclusively attracted to men).
Social conformance even in the twenty-first century encourages the successfully passing transwoman to enter in to "normal" sexual
relationships with men as far as she is physically capable, while intimate relationships with other
women would risk "rocking the boat" and perhaps getting people
asking some undesired curious questions.
into a committed relationship with a man undoubtedly tends to
pull a transwoman away from any open acknowledgement of her
transsexuality and male past, and encourages an apparently heterosexual
orientation in public - what ever her secret inclinations might
still be. As the table above shows, many heterosexual
transsexual women hide their male past from partners and even
their husband, feeling (unfortunately often correctly) that the
relationship may not survive this becoming known to him.
Even if the partner knows about and accepts the woman's transsexuality, their friends and his
family might not be so open minded, and external pressures and
eventually destroy the relationship.
There can certainly be no
doubt about the very female heterosexual orientation and libido of
many transwomen - before and after surgery.
E.g. one young transgirl describes her SRS
at 18 and early sexual experiences:
need the operation to feel like a girl because I already felt
like one. I had the operation so I could have sex like other
women. ... So
I could have more [vaginal depth and] orgasms I paid [an] extra £1,000.
I was in hospital for three weeks and two weeks after I came
out, I was ready for a test run. I went to a disco with the sole
intention of picking up a man for sex. I looked for one
who was trendy and attractive. I didn't want a virgin or someone
who'd be glad of anything he could get! When I'd found the
perfect guy, he took me home and wanted to light candles but I
made him do it with all the lights on. I had to make sure
that it not only felt OK but looked OK. I have a faint
scar on my tummy and I've been told it would take a
gynaecologist to tell the difference, but I had to find out.
Afterwards, he asked for my phone number but I gave him a false
one because he was just an experiment. I had a few more
experiments after that and remember being complimented on my
wonderful muscle control."
Some heterosexual girls
undoubtedly try to make up for lost time after their surgery.
(of 'Tula' fame) admits that after her SRS, also at 21, she "went
a little wild ... I felt I needed to experiment and
experience a number of relationships. None of the men I
slept with had any idea of my past".
When the boyfriend of an out'ed
model "T" learnt that she had had SRS at 19, his only comment
was about her insatiable demand for sex.
"M" (whom I
know very well personally) joined an airline as Cabin Crew
immediately after her
SRS at age 21. She then had sexual intercourse with over forty
different men in less than a year before settling down
slightly with a diverse mix of three main boyfriends, just two of whom
were married. It was three years after her SRS before she
really began to look for a monogamous relationship.
On the other hand,
Samantha Kane (who had SRS at age 37) found sex as a woman to be
rather boring, and far less interesting than the preliminaries
to a big night out such as the shopping trips.
or Non-Sexual Transwomen
When a post-SRS transwoman enters in to lesbian relationships, or
becomes non-sexual - avoiding any intimate relationships - the
reasons tends to fall in to one of a few main categories:
of a relationship with a former wife or female partner on a
sexual or non-sexual basis;
of a sexual attraction to women, if strong this may lead to
a drift in to lesbian relationships, if weak it may lead to
an avoidance of any sexual activity at all;
relationships with other transsexual women. [see
can also be caused by:
genuine lack of sexual urges;
Kimberley Langley legally married her lesbian partner after having a sex
surgical results - for example lack of vaginal depth, poor
appearance of the vulva, or intercourse is painful;
to attract desirable partners, for example due to an
inability to pass convincingly;
conscious suppression of inconvenient or undesired sexual
urges, e.g. due to having AIDS or fear of possible discovery
in a relationship in which the other partner doesn't want to
engage in sexual relations.
A relatively high percentage of transwomen enter sexual
relationships with both men and women. The reasons are
varied, for example: one night stands; curiosity; and social
conformance (e.g. a public relationship with a man but secret
It is not
unusual for a transsexual woman to enter in to a relationship
with a another transsexual, usually another male-to-female MTF)
woman but occasionally a female-to-male (FTM) man. An
important, though perhaps not overriding, benefit of such a
relationship is the couples shared experiences, support and
understanding about each others transsexuality, something which
a relationship with a non-transsexual person can not
provide. Also, the transcouple do not need to face the
risks and worries of going stealth in order to establish and
maintain the relationship with their partner.
significant proportion of transsexual women admit to being
attracted to other transsexual women, indeed one small survey
found that half of the respondents were strongly attracted to
other transsexual women. Naturally this attraction often
leads to relationships, both of a "one night stand"
and of a more permanent nature. Sexually, these are
technically lesbian relationships, but interestingly the
partners are frequently not attracted to non-transsexual genetic
MTF woman enters in to a relationship with a FTM man, generally
both partners are insistent that it is a conventional,
Unlike older transsexuals, the sexual orientation of young
transsexual women (meaning those who transition and start
treatment before age 20) is rarely in doubt, they are usually as
fervently interested in boys as any teenage girl!
Tamalah, who transitioned at age 18, says "I knew from as early as
I can remember that I was a girl. I didn't consider myself gay,
I considered myself a heterosexual female." Both before
and after the surgery, she presented herself as a woman and was
often asked out by men. "I figured what they didn't know
wouldn't hurt them, as long as I didn't sleep with them."
To please her boyfriend, Maxine had breast implants at
age 17. He moved on, but she had her SRS three years later.
Maxine notes "At age 14 I experienced my 'first time' while on
holiday ... [he was] six foot tall, wash board belly,
unbelievably sexy. He chatted me up on the beach and we
went to his hotel room. He slowly undressed me. It
was beautiful. There was nothing I wanted more that night
than to be a whole woman."
A few years later Maxine had a relationship with a strongly
heterosexual man: "Omar was a beautiful man but everything had
to remain secret. The first time was very sensitive -
however he missed me not having a bosom. He got a terrible
complex, ... deep down he believed that I was really another
man. I wanted to be the perfect partner for Omar, and
dreamt of us having a family. I longed to be a woman, and
as I fell in love with him I resolved that it was Maxine or
Like Tamalah and Maxine, many young transsexuals enter in to an intimate relationship as a girl with a
heterosexual man long before undergoing any surgery.
Whether the man is understanding or not, clearly the situation
is extremely unsatisfactory. The girls desire to
normalise her body and have vaginal intercourse often becomes a
key driver for her seeking surgery as soon as possible.
Waiting to her 18th birthday before having sex-reassignment
surgery - as is required by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association
Standard Of Care that most doctors and surgeons conform to -
can be a bitter and sexually very frustrating test of endurance.
Almost inevitably there is some degree of correlation between
sexual satisfaction and successful physical feminisation, including
high quality surgery. Good physical feminisation results in more relationships with attractive and 'sexy' partners, and
hopefully more enjoyable physical sensations during everything from petting and nipple
sucking, to clitoris stimulation and vaginal penetration.
However, it is very difficult to divide physical feminisation decisions
made primarily on sexuality grounds from those made on other very
important grounds such as increased pass'ability and self image.
Individual priorities vary dramatically, as the
requests made of surgeons in relation to constructing or
enhancing the female secondary sexual characteristics of
transsexual women show. Good breasts (the definition of
which vary from girl to girl) are a clear top priority, while
the development and subsequent maintenance of a
vagina suited to accommodating a penis can be a surprisingly
low priority - for older women in particular there seems to be a
divergence between intensions at SRS
and the reality a few years afterwards. A reasonable
speculation is that some transwomen would prefer having a natural looking vulva area
or a sensitive clitoris over good vaginal depth, for sexual reasons
that include lesbianism and masturbation desires.
Desire and Enjoyment
studies are rare, but the
available evidence suggests that transsexual women
resemble genetic females rather than males in their patterns of sexual
activity and associated temperamental traits. On average, when compared with
genetic women, transsexual women:
Have a similar degree and frequency of sexual
Are just as sensitive and temperamental, and
similarly easy (really!) to sexually excite.
Have their sexual desires and needs satisfied
almost as much as other women, but less than men.
Have significantly more erotic fantasies, dreams
Are as likely to adopt a female sexual position
Are less likely to experience orgasms than other
women during intercourse.
Are less likely to enjoy non-orgasmic sexual
sensations during intercourse.
The limitations of even the most aesthetically
successful sex-reassignment surgery seems likely to account for
the last two points. There is also no doubt that like other women, the libido and sexual enjoyment of transsexual women can vary
from negligible to intense, whether or not they are classified as lesbian, bisexual or