This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Cis men who love trans women are all around us. They’re our coworkers, our friends, our family members. And yet they’re rarely represented in the public view. The secrecy they keep has only led to misunderstanding, and in the worst cases, violence, as cis men often fear their masculinity is at stake. We’re breaking the silence and telling their stories.
This week we’re talking to a 23-year-old funeral director from the UK. He’s requested that we omit his name to protect his privacy.
My job is to look after people after they die and arrange their funeral ceremonies. Many new people I meet think it’s a weird job for someone in their early twenties to be involved in, but I’m the 3rd generation in my family to work in the business. I learned the value of life, and why I shouldn’t take it for granted, at a very young age. When I first realized I was attracted to trans women, that principle wasn’t immediately at hand. I was fraught with emotional turmoil. Today I’m comfortable with who I am.
I’m 23, white, straight, and live in an apartment with my girlfriend. Two years ago we rescued a dog. All things considered, I have a pretty good life. I’m happy. When I’m not working, music is my passion, I play bass, double bass, uke, mandolin and a few other things. I’ve been in a few bands but never taken it seriously enough to try and make money from it. I usually use it as a way to get free pints in pubs on open mic nights. I love nature and walking in the countryside, I like to longboard, and I love to ski.
I was 14, hanging out with my friends at school, when one of them opened a video on their phone. It was of a guy fucking a rather attractive girl from behind. Five seconds in and that notorious orchestral from Jaws starts playing. At the climax of the Jaws theme, the girl spread her legs, revealing a pretty big dick. At that moment, my other friends went from giddy to completely disgusted. When I saw their reactions, I mimicked them. But I wasn’t disgusted. Her appeal had just increased tenfold.
Our funeral home was like a second home to me, a place where my family looked after others. Being a child, I didn’t see any deceased people. But I did often interact with their families in small ways, like serving them tea while they made arrangements. I saw how diverse the world is. Though I grew up in it, I never thought I’d carry on the family business. But at 17 I was out of school and spending weekends helping my parents with the business. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed working in the funeral trade, so I asked my folks if they’d take me on full time.
My parents were still at work when I got home from school that day when I was a teenager. I had the house to myself for a few hours, and I remember closing the door to my bedroom, propping a chair up against it, and searching on my laptop for more of what my friends were so revolted by. I didn’t really understand what I was looking at. I didn’t know anything about trans women, and had no idea why I felt so turned on by seeing trans women’s bodies. I went to a conservative religious school, and my peers mocked gay people. I had no reference for my experience, and had only been told about cisgender, heterosexuality.
If you're a cisgender man who is attracted to trans women and want to share your story, contact email@example.com (you can keep your story anonymous).
For a long time I would watch trans porn but I would always swap to hetero-cis porn before I finished, trying to convince myself I wasn’t gay. I tried to suppress my attraction to trans women because when I watched porn with trans women in it I felt dirty. Obviously, it never went away.
I’ve never had trans amorous role models. Men like me are oddly absent from popular culture. I don’t really understand why, because it’s clear there are people who are attracted to trans women in the world. There are so many men like me out there in the world and though I hate to use porn as an example of that fact, it is a useful indicator. There’s no short supply of trans porn, and supply does meet demand. Coming of age, I think some part of me was assured that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt because of that simple fact.
I feel guilty that I discovered trans women through porn, because that’s the only place I saw trans women, and it made it seem like they only existed in a world made for sexual gratification. Regardless of who you are or what your gender, nobody deserves to be objectified.
I think that men don’t talk about trans women because they’re worried about how they’ll be perceived by others. Men try to be “manly,” but are actually fragile creatures who care too much about what other men think. A lot of men’s shame could be eradicated by trans people appearing more in popular culture, whether that’s on tv or in advertisements or whatever, and not just by themselves, but also showing them in real meaningful relationships beyond a purely sexualised realm.
It seems absurd to think that people should feel the need to be ashamed of who they’re attracted to. But if you look at the span of human history, general acceptance of sexual diversity hasn’t been widely realized. Homosexual acts have only been legal in the UK for 53 years. There are people in society who were alive in a time where to be anything other than straight was illegal. I think society is making a shift in acceptance for all and hopefully any unnecessary stigma is quashed soon, but sadly I think we have a long way to go before that happens.
The only personal connection I’ve had to someone who is trans was a woman I had a brief online relationship with when I was 16. She taught me a lot and really changed my perception of trans people. She was a big help in accepting my attraction to trans women. When our friendship turned more sexual, we would play around on video chat. At first it was strange to acclimatise to. I remember feeling very vulnerable.
I was close to calling things off because of the discomfort, still in my head feeling like what I was engaging myself in was wrong. But I couldn’t ignore how excited I was and I needed to explore my feelings, so we kept talking. One thing I learned was the importance of the language I used to talk about her body. She taught me what gender dysphoria is, which was something I had no idea about before. I think, and I hope, I helped her feel sexy in her body, even if it wasn’t the one she wished he had.
Although we were thousands of miles apart I felt a good connection. We used to talk a lot but she lived in Mexico and the time difference made things difficult. I was still a teenager, and my social life started to flourish. I got my first part time job and I had a lot of free time between that and college. As real life crept in, romantic interest in other people led us to stop talking. I was a teenager. I wanted to feel physical intimacy with someone and I couldn’t do that with her, so we stopped talking after that.
I’m in a relationship with a cis girl and have been for a few years. She’s unaware of my attraction to trans women but I think that’s only because we’ve never needed to talk about it. I don’t have a preference for a woman who is trans over a woman who isn’t. I’m not interested in having children, so I have no biological factors to take into account. If I had crossed paths with a trans woman in the UK, I like to think I could be with her. A big part of me does wish I had the chance to explore my sexuality with a trans woman physically.
My mother is quite a religious person. When I told her that 12 years of catholic education was a waste of time because I think it’s all bullshit, she found that quite upsetting. I don’t think she’d understand why I’d be attracted to a trans woman, but I doubt very much she’d fail to accept that person as my partner and someone I love. Professionally I don’t believe it would have an impact. My line of work requires a willingness to help anyone, offering no judgment on who they are, and accepting whatever path they’ve walked. You can’t help the deceased or those who loved them if you don’t value them as people.
Humans are good at pointing fingers at people who are different. The more we teach people one ideology about relationships, the bigger platform we build for ridicule for those not mentioned, even though those people exist in society.
The trials facing trans people are enormously more challenging than the men who are attracted to them. But for what it’s worth, getting over the hang ups I’ve had about my sexuality has been a very freeing experience. It’s not healthy for men like me to suppress our natural sexuality. It’s bad for our mental health, and it reduces the number of potential relationships between men and trans women.
Everyone deserves love, and I hope we move towards a society that allows that and gives more people that opportunity, regardless of who they are, and what is or isn’t in their pants. Love shouldn’t be put in a box and moved around in secret.