It’s been a while since I’ve griped about the petty bullshit involved in being the partner of a trans person, hasn’t it? I recently posted a photo of me and my wife at the GLAAD awards, and many, many people have said lovely things about how we both look, which we’ve both appreciated. But I did notice – how could I not? – a pretty common refrain that goes something like this: “Your wife looks amazing and of course you do too” or, alternately, “your wife looks great and it goes without saying that you do too.”
And you know what? Actually, it doesn’t. I understand the need for people to validate a trans woman’s attractiveness. I really do. But when (1) you married a man who is no longer a man, and/or (2) you’re in your 40s, and/or (3) you’re not a size 4, and/or (4) people consistently think that trans bodies are somehow publicly owned and so can and should be regularly commented on, it gets a little tiring to hear how remarkably gorgeous my wife is. I mean, I know that. I live with her and see her every day. I’m the one she shares makeup with, and hair products, and pajamas, so yes, I’m aware she’s a hottie, and a gender normative hottie at that.
So what I want to ask you married people: is it common for people to come up and tell you that your husband or wife is attractive? That they’d do them? That their first sighting of your spouse made them wonder if your spouse was single? I mean, is this a normal thing, or is this somehow part of the trans validation thing, or do I just have the bad luck of running into a lot of people who are wildly inappropriate?
My guess is that it’s a trans validation thing. Because I can’t imagine walking up to a woman whose husband was attractive and saying any of these things. I can’t imagine saying it to a woman whose wife is hot. I really can’t. And maybe that’s me, my usual unflirtatious self, but I find it disturbing that people constantly feel the need to tell me that my wife is a hot prospect.
I mean, again, I get it. I’m the one who married her, right? I’m pretty clear that I married someone who was a hottie in one gender presentation who is now a hottie in another. I have no problem with anyone telling her that she’s attractive – none whatsoever. I married an actor, after all, and so have always been used to people finding my spouse attractive. What I don’t understand is why people tell ME she’s attractive, and she doesn’t understand it either. To be honest, it feels a little like “my best friend’s gay” or “I have a black friend” – as in, it sometimes comes off as a knee-jerk liberal reaction, laced with “isn’t it amazing your wife who was born a man is attractive as a woman?” And you know what? It’s not. So many beautiful women I’ve met are trans. In a crankier mood, I might even call this kind of compliment a micro aggression, because it others her, calls out her transness, and reminds me, too, that my partner is trans.
But enough about the trans person: if you know any partners of trans people, do me a favor and tell them they look hot once in a while. The assumption that somehow a cis woman doesn’t need to be complimented on her looks is ridiculous, right? As I like to tell my students: Marilyn Monroe thought she had fat fingers, people, so it’s not like many women don’t suffer a little insecurity about their looks, and I am no exception, and neither is every other partner of a trans person out there.
And now I’ll add: unless you go out of your way to tell other married people how hot their spouses are, please stop doing it to the spouses of trans people. Just stop.