Desiring trans bodies

Rachel Saunders
5 min readOct 25, 2023
Photo by Carlos Arribas:

As a trans woman who has dated other trans and cis women I find the whole conversation around chasers, cotton ceilings, and trans women being systemic threats to lesbians both frustrating and intriguing. On the one hand desire is what it is and the labels we apply to relationships there for the ease of society; on the other, there is an underlying assumption that trans bodies are somehow exotic and other, that to desire them and inhabit them is a dark desire. What is undeniable is that this is not a 2020s issue, it has imbued gender non-conforming narratives from as far back as such narratives were a thing.

To untangle the desire for trans bodies is to untangle human sexuality, namely that there is no one way to desire, love, lust, or otherwise feel attracted towards trans women. If you desire us, if you find us attractive, then that is a part of who you are, not simply down to who we are as people. All desire is mercurial, trying to pin down why you feel the way you do is like picking grains of sand and saying this is what sand is. Each grain is different, as is each person’s desire.

What is different for trans bodies is the societal prohibition on openly loving us, openly expressing that we are desirable. At least if you wish to be perceived as hetero- or homonormative. Those labels, gold plated straight, gay, or lesbian break down when others question those who desire trans bodies. If you are straight man in a relationship with a trans woman her penis does not make you bi or gay unless you define yourself as such; it is society that has the issue with labels, society that declares your lust as something other than straight.

Of course this is all problematic when it gets projected back onto the trans people at the heart of those desires. Being told that you always queer everything you touch, that your very existence is a test to trap straight men or lesbians, that no matter the medical route you run down you will always be dick adjacent. It is the great myth of trans bodies, that we are defined by others, that our relationships are never ours alone. We are never women alone, we are the phantoms haunting every bathroom, bedroom, and playground.

This objectification muddles every perception of trans bodies, for most of the trans women online need to project an air of attraction and desire simply to make a dent…