Thank you so much for your response to my response (!).
I’m sorry to hear about your (ex)-friend. It sounds like a big sticking point is that the trans woman didn’t disclose up front. There is an ongoing debate in the trans community about when to disclose our trans status when dating. When I was dating, I would make sure the person knew up front that I was a pre-op trans woman. I met a lot of women online and this is the first thing I put in my profile, front and center. I would start all conversations with “Have read my WHOLE profile? Do you realize I am trans and pre-op?” Some women rejected me out of hand for being trans (and/or having a penis). One woman dated me for a while but then decided that what was in my pants was a deal breaker. I had no problem with that, because I wasn’t too wild about what was in my pants, either. I also didn’t think of this woman as transphobic: she tried dating me, even though she had traumatic memories of a cis man sexually assaulting her. As a result, she just couldn’t be with me because of that one body part, and she was the first to say she didn’t think it made sense. She knew my penis and her rapist’s were not the same, but she just couldn’t get past it. I respected that. Not long later, I met a woman who didn’t care what was in my pants. She was with me before, during, and after my GRS. If I had been caught up on the other woman, I may not have met the woman I later married.
I agree that no one can or should be able to tell you who (or what body parts) to be attracted to. I personally don’t think you are a transphobe for your preferences. However, as I tried to explain in my previous response, reducing a pre-op or non-op trans woman to one body part can feel misgendering and dehumanizing for her. I think the problem is that we are trying to generalize and be specific at the same time. General: saying that trans women are not women, or are not valid because of their penises is a definition of transphobia. Specific: Disliking penises does not mean you don’t find the trans woman with one valid. The problem is, from a trans woman’s perspective, it sure can seem like we are being reduced to that one body part many of us don’t even want. I think it is important to ensure that woman knows you still see her as a woman and that she is valid. It still seems very arbitrary and somewhat discriminatory, but as you said, dating is kind of discriminatory anyway.
I applaud you for your decision to continue to be an ally for us, even when called transphobic. Thank you for writing your original article and your response. And thanks for your well-reasoned, open dialogue. I may not agree with everything you say, but definitely respect and do my best to understand your perspective.