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Preference is a Dirty Word

Diet Queer Feminism
Preference is a Dirty Word
By Sotonye Ame • Issue #5 • View online

This letter was due last Friday, so I’m going to start by apologising for delivering late. I’m sorry, life got in the way.
There’s a conversation to be had about transphobia and the sugar-coated aggression that is preference. Preference is a dirty word, a dirty word that has been used to cover up a lot of bigotry; and we keep letting it slide. I get it, people are allowed to like some things more than they like other things, but where do we draw the line between merely preferring something and bigotry? At what point do we say to the preferer “it’s time to stop”?
I choose to draw that line at other human beings.
About a week ago I made a tweet saying genital preference is transphobic and I stand by it (although I am leaning towards the term genital discrimination). So, let’s get into the why. Why is it transphobic to simply want to have sex with a person with a vagina instead of a person with a penis?
The answer is simple, and at the same time, complex. While it is not transphobic to want to bump coochies with your partner, it is transphobic to reduce your attraction to women to an attraction to vaginas.
Women come in all shapes, sizes, and with all kinds of genitalia. “Women have penises, and men have vaginas” isn’t just a fancy catchphrase, it is people’s reality. If we accept that some women don’t have vaginas, do you see how it is transphobic to want to reduce womanhood to the presence of a vagina?
In a conversation with Tom — where we talked about dropping genital preference for genital discrimination — and in many conversations after that, it became clear that the transphobia lies, very much, in the conversation around finding out your partner had a penis and not of a vagina.
How do you approach that subject? Do you reduce them to their genitals by saying things like “I’m attracted to vaginas”? or do you have a calm conversation about how you wouldn’t know what to do with a penis or how a penis may be inadequate for the kind of sex you want to have? Do you give yourself space to realise that your partner may not want to interact with their genitals during sex? That there are ways to have sex that don’t involve their genitals? Or are you simply consumed by rage and disgust? That’s where the transphobia is.
Preference is a dirty word. I would very much like for us to stop using it.
With love and everything nice
Did you enjoy this issue?
Sotonye Ame

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Lagos, Nigeria.