Many transwidows relate stories of sexual abuse and coercion. We should listen to these women and their experiences.
Philomena: ‘It was not my idea of womanhood. In fact, his version offended me. It was degrading and violent. He clearly thought being a woman meant wanting to be raped and tortured. I told him wearing strap-ons was very sore on my c-section scar, my “turn” being tied up frightened and hurt me, I expressed my preference for gentle, nurturing sex. He told me complaining was very manipulative and selfish and that I was trying to stifle his womanhood’.[efn_note]‘Philomena’s Story: There and Back Again’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/philomena-s-story-there-and-back-again[/efn_note]
We need to assess how heterosexual women are being coerced and forced to participate in male sexual fetishes and unwanted sexual activity in the guise of supporting their ‘trans’ partner. The first two essays in this series challenged why redefining a woman’s reality, gaslighting her, isolating her, emotionally blackmailing her and attacking her self-esteem should not be considered domestic abuse, specifically psychological abuse, because the abuser claims to feel like a woman. This essay will ask whether coerced sex, bullied sex, should be acknowledged as rape rather than ‘stunning and brave’. Reading the descriptions of ‘sex’ in some trans widows’ stories and the stories of women currently in relationships with trans identified males it becomes clear that they fit both the definition of sexual abuse in terms of domestic violence and rape through coercive control. Refuge states that ‘sexual abuse doesn’t have to be physical. He might manipulate or coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do’.[efn_note]‘What Is Abuse?’, Refuge, https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/What-is-abuse[/efn_note] The U.S. Department of Health explains that ‘Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way’.[efn_note]‘Sexual coercion’, Office On Women’s Health https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/sexual-coercion[/efn_note] In England and Wales, according to section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, someone consents when she or he “agrees by choice…and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice”, thus there can be no consent if it is coerced.[efn_note]‘Sexual Consent, UK Says No More https://uksaysnomore.org/learn/consent/ [/efn_note] The personal is political became a second wave Women’s Liberation Movement slogan because feminists recognised that most women are raped and abused in private, at home. Feminists would no longer allow men to hide their abuse behind privacy laws and closed doors. What women were experiencing was not isolated,
Feminists have long argued that consent is not enough but that it must be enthusiastic, the women must really want it rather than just acquiescing. In transwidow’s stories we don’t find enthusiasm or even freely given consent but rather coercion and boundary violation. Birdbandit wrote on Mumsnet that
‘One of the things that makes me feel violated is he planned a weekend away, before the reveal, and basically bullied me into doing things I wasn’t comfortable with… Spent a fortune on sex toys and costumes. But really, I was just his prop, he was getting off on making me feel uncomfortable, or maybe too into his own fantasy… to care that I was deeply unhappy and being bullied. I was literally just his pawn to project onto’.[efn_note]‘Trans widows escape committee’, Mumsnet (1 December 2017) https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3101834-trans-widows-escape-committee?pg=2[/efn_note]
Georgia Lynne Pine has described similar regarding her ‘trans’ husband. She has written that ‘It wasn’t all that fun for me. I had a husband who wouldn’t have sex with me, and now all my best underwear kind of felt like it had been stolen. Used. And yet I washed it, and put it back in my lingerie drawer, and got back to the business of raising my children and keeping my questions to myself’.[efn_note]G. L. Pine, ‘Concealer, Clothes, and the Closet’, Straight Spouse Network (21 May 2014), https://www.straightspouse.org/concealer-clothes-and-the-closet/[/efn_note] Georgia survived by denying the problem and projecting to the world that all was fine but ‘A few years later, he asked me to swap clothes with him, “just to see. Just to try. It could be really sexy.” I was so desperate for him to touch me or look at me or want me, by then, that I was willing to do just about anything he suggested. So, I gave him free access to my closet, and I wore the outfit he chose for me’.[efn_note] G. L. Pine, ‘Concealer, Clothes, and the Closet’, Straight Spouse Network (21 May 2014), https://www.straightspouse.org/concealer-clothes-and-the-closet/[/efn_note] Eventually her will was broken. Sex that is bullied, that one gives into is not consensual. What do we call non-consensual sex? Rape.
When women’s objections to sex are ignored or a ‘no’ begins a negotiation process consent is not given freely, coerced sex is rape. Like many women experience in the open, during conversations, what is macro is the tip of the iceberg for what is happening on the micro level. Pestering and negging is present in many transwidows’ accounts. Philomena has written that ‘He later used the things I shared with him that night to coerce and abuse me. He insisted I should have no objection to having sex with him dressed as a woman because I was bisexual. This did not jibe at all with what I found attractive, but when I tried to object, he said I was being a hypocrite and a snob’.[efn_note]‘Philomena’s Story: There and Back Again’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/philomena-s-story-there-and-back-again[/efn_note] This sounds as if he was attempting to ‘neg’ her into sex. ‘Negging is using a negative comment to initiate contact and force a woman to prove it is untrue, it belittles a woman’s confidence and makes women desire the accuser’s approval. This permits a way in for the manipulator and silences that gut feeling that something is not right’.[efn_note]Dr Em, ‘Are Transactivists Negging Feminism and the LGB?’, Uncommon Ground Media (4 June 2020), https://uncommongroundmedia.com/are-transactivists-negging-feminism-and-the-lgb/[/efn_note] Philomena has shared how ‘He accused me of trying to shame him when I gagged at the smell of his silicone toys mixed with alkyl nitrate fumes and bodily fluids and said I needed to get off my high horse, that just because I was born into a female body did not mean I was a better woman than him’.[efn_note]‘Philomena’s Story: There and Back Again’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/philomena-s-story-there-and-back-again[/efn_note] What kind of sex begins with accusations? This man has turned a woman’s dislike and boundaries into a supposed fault of hers. The bullying and use of shame as a weapon is present, it’s guilt tripping into sex, a recognised form of coercion. Break the Cycle outlines that ‘coercing a partner is an attempt to get power and ownership over their partner’s body. Coercion says that you don’t have the right to say ‘no’ or show that you don’t want to have sex. It also shows that they don’t care about YOUR pleasure, comfort levels, and boundaries’.[efn_note]‘Warning Signs Spotlight: Pressuring for Sex’, Break the Cycle: Because Everyone Deserves a Healthy Relationship, https://www.breakthecycle.org/blog/warning-signs-spotlight-pressuring-sex[/efn_note] When a woman says no to a sexual activity that should be the end of it. No trying to wear her down, no insults. Anything else is coercion and thus a form of rape.
Some women describe living in fear of their AGP partners forcing them to have sex. This is rape. One woman recounting her story under the title ‘Gaslight’ reported how she was ‘having panic attacks every night before he came to bed’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 62.[/efn_note] Dee A. Levy detailed how ‘Life was a dream, most of it anyway, and then it exploded. For me, living in the shadow of an insidious, creeping secret – Will it happen tonight? – became a living nightmare that only grew worse in intensity’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 1.[/efn_note] Levy has written about the ‘bewildering decades married to a cross-dresser, years that left me emotionally battered, broken’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 1.[/efn_note] A woman writing under the pseudonym ‘The Golden Nugget’ recounted how after marriage she caught her husband Billy wearing her clothes, and although he claimed he wasn’t hurting anyone, he would force her to have sex with him ‘dressed’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p.20.[/efn_note] That ‘from time to time, I would relent and have sex while he was dressed in my lingerie. I hated every second of it’. [efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 22[/efn_note] Relenting and hating every second of sexual intercourse is rape. An intimate sexual partner would be aware of a wife’s lack of enjoyment and discomfort.
It is almost as if the women’s lack of enjoyment, the fear and discomfort is an additional turn on for the AGP husband or partner. The woman writing her story under the title ‘Gaslight’ detailed how after her husband Paul had disclosed his ‘dressing as a woman’ and she had uncomfortably indulged this he progressed to anally raping her every night. She described how I ‘remember the first night Paul decided to try anal sex. It wasn’t discussed beforehand. I kept trying to redirect him but he was almost trancelike in his silent insistence until tired and wanting it to end, I gave in and hated it’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 61.[/efn_note] ‘Afterwards when I told him that it wasn’t comfortable or pleasurable for me, he suggested it would grow on me’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 61.[/efn_note]S he described how ‘for a period of weeks, night after night, the backdoor sexual activities continued despite my grim, soundless struggles to get him to stop… I told him that I didn’t like it, that I didn’t want to do it, that it hurt’ until ‘Finally after weeks of this, after getting up one morning bleeding again, I started crying’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 61.[/efn_note] Her husband responded by claiming that al she had to do was ask him to stop and that she always overreacted to everything. Paul liked to rape her while he was dressed in lingerie. She recounted how she told Paul she couldn’t have sex with him because she was in too much pain after rupturing a disc in her neck, in response ‘he turned me over so my back was to him, and had sex with me anyway. Tears streaming down my cheeks’.[efn_note]D. A. Levy & B. Shefield Hunt, The Cross Dresser’s Wife (California, Cross Dresser’s Wives NPO, 2011), p. 63[/efn_note] Her husband’s abuse escalated as if to feed an addiction. If a man believes that he can posses a woman to such an extent that he can wear her body as a costume why would he not be of the viewpoint that he can use individual women’s bodies as a sexual tool? If porn teaches that a woman’s place is to sexually service men, that women want it even when they say no and are crying, that they want to be hurt, why would men whose paraphilia is porn induced not subscribe to pornography’s lessons?
It is no coincidence that transgender/transsexual ideology has become so popular as pornography has become mainstream. Porn objectifies women, breaking them up into sexualised parts and pushing the idea of women existing to sexually satisfy men. It eroticises the submission of women and male dominance and men get aroused by women’s oppression. Transgenderism/transsexualism fetishizes women’s oppression, fetishizes individual parts of women dissecting them as bits which can be worn as accessories. It is therefore no surprise that women’s stories of their AGP partners and husbands consistently feature the fact that he was a porn addict. Naefearty related how ‘I discovered that he was an obsessive user of porn, particularly “shemale” porn, and BDSM fare. I had been very clear with him about my opinions on porn, and was sickened when he tried to get me to participate in looking at these men’.[efn_note]Naefearty, ‘Gas Mark Six’, NAEFEARTY: Your fantasy is my nightmare (22 July 2014), https://naefearty.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/gas-mark-six/[/efn_note] Naefearty wrote a letter of what she would like to say to her ex’s new girlfriend:
“She” is one of the “protected categories” enshrined in Equality Legislation and Hate Crime laws. Of course he isn’t just some creepy heterosexual man with a porn addiction! No sirree. Your girlfriend is the real deal. A woman, cruelly trapped inside a male body. Suffering untold agonies. Feeling all those womanly feelings and stuff since forever. Not the womanly feelings that are about housework or taking responsibility for stuff mind you – but womanly feelings all the same! The sexxaayy-lady-in-a-latex-face-mask-and-inflatable-boobs womanly feelings. The spit-on-me-and-call-me-slut womanly feelings. The pretend-you-are-nurse-and-tie-me-down-and-give-me-an-enema womanly feelings. The don’t-call-me-a-pervert-and-tell-me-I-can’t-come-in-your-changing-room-or-I-will-have-you-done-for-a-hate-crime-you-fucking-bitch womanly feelings’.[efn_note]Naefearty, ‘A Further Letter to the Girlfriend’, NAEFEARTY Your fantasy is my nightmare (23 July 2015), https://naefearty.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/a-further-letter-to-the-girlfriend/[/efn_note]
Naefearty is certainly not alone in noticing the connection between pornography use and AGP. One transwidow described her AGP husband thus: ‘His brain was soaked in pornography from childhood, from the age of eleven or twelve. He told me eventually he used to masturbate using his older sister’s underwear. By the time I came to know him, therefore, he had been heavily involved in pornography for almost three decades’.[efn_note]‘Transwidow 2’, Transwidows.com, https://www.transwidows.com/index.php/why-now/[/efn_note] Men who use porn cannot view women as equals, as more than a thing to please them. As Catharine MacKinnon argued, ‘Fantasy expresses ideology,[it] is not exempt from it’.[efn_note]‘Violence Against Women on the Internet: The Civil Rights Approach’, Harvard Law School, Berkman Center, https://cyber.harvard.edu/vaw02/mod2-4.htm[/efn_note] This is why women who have been in relationships with the proponents of the new misogyny consistently report that it has pornography at its roots.
Simone told how ‘I found tranny porn on his computer, and he didn’t want me in our office, so he kicked me out of the office, and I was stuck in our bedroom instead. I was left alone most nights; he went to bed after me’.[efn_note]‘Simone’s Story: Identity Found’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/simone-s-story-identity-found[/efn_note] Similarly, ‘Transwidow987’ has stated that ‘I am fairly certain my ex was looking at gay/trans porn and masturbating a lot and I think that was his main form of sexual expression. I was just this thing on the side he had to do to keep the marriage going and keep up the charade’.[efn_note]Transwidow987, ‘Addiction and dissociation in AGP courtesy of twitter’, Mumsnet (19 September 2019), https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3689254-Addiction-and-dissociation-in-AGP-courtesy-of-twitter?pg=3[/efn_note] Susanne described how her husband William ‘has a LOT of shemale/TG/TS porn in his collection. He has downloaded several photos of shemales and used them to masturbate to’.[efn_note]‘Feelings of Power? or Powerlessness?’, My Husband is an Autogynephiliac (15 December 2009), http://susannejourney.blogspot.com/2009/12/feelings-of-power-or-powerlessness.html[/efn_note] ‘X_Warrior_P’ disclosed on Twitter that her ‘ex’s transition was heavily influenced by porn use, and a developing fetish for sissification/makeup/dresses. I often came home to find them spinning and prancing in my clothes and undergarments, with an erection. I was told I was essentially the man of the relationship’.[efn_note]
- @X_Warrior_P, Twitter (9:08 am, 24 September, 2020),
[/efn_note] ‘took to the internet to ask ‘How do I deal with my husband’s addiction to transexual porn & lack of affection?’.[efn_note]Kah35, ‘How do I deal with my husband’s addiction to transexual porn & lack of affection?’, Yahoo Answers (2010),https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070609064226AAuQsKf&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAMwESq7ZqlWX-KZM4nB5UlG6ml1j3ZvcN8DkETWYF2Asd3bHhxcxyeRZ2GONRrw1fZ5tvEW2LvxjSBKcNm_LlQRQK2Hco-o2ZeI8Gv7h3mfEfCK_xY43FgY70ml0DtPBvoeo5auXafChyqUQ8wuPM14z7lgptWklRL3eK8Uxdy_m[/efn_note] Savings began disappearing and ‘Kah35’ began ‘walking on eggshells, because i dont want to make the situation worse, cause an argument. which would give him reason to leave’. [efn_note]Ibid.[/efn_note] She needed to leave. Pornography propagates the message that women want to be hurt, that women want to be dominated. Dworkin convincingly and repeatedly showed that ‘pornography is the propaganda of sexual fascism. Pornography is the propaganda of sexual terrorism’.[efn_note]A. Dworkin, Letters From A Warzone: Writings 1976 – 1989 (E. P. Dutton, 1988), p. 201[/efn_note] If images and videos had no impact on behaviour why is the global advertising industry worth $563.02 billion?[efn_note]https://www.statista.com/topics/990/global-advertising-market/[/efn_note]
Porn consumption leads to the dehumanisation of women, when women are viewed through the lens of pornography this leads to rape. The trans widow Simone has related how ‘I didn’t want to have sex much of the time when he wanted me to penetrate him or have sex with lingerie on. He did things to me with his hands that resulted in damage to my uterus which resulted in over 20 years of fertility issues’.[efn_note]Simone’s Story: Identity Found’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/simone-s-story-identity-found[/efn_note] Simone continued that ‘Sex was awkward and I didn’t enjoy it. I say, didn’t enjoy it, because I never had an orgasm. I was forced to do anal’.[efn_note]Simone’s Story: Identity Found’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/simone-s-story-identity-found[/efn_note] This is rape. Simone related how
‘I felt pressured to use toys on him and penetrate him with those toys. He’d buy me sex toys – but end up using them on himself. He bought lingerie for me (even though it never fit) and then he’d wear it and get me to have sex with him. I felt pressured and didn’t want to do the things he wanted me to do. I didn’t feel like I could say no… He would ignore me, give me the silent treatment or have huge tantrums and this forced me to be compliant… He groomed me to try and become a lesbian or bisexual’.[efn_note]Simone’s Story: Identity Found’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/simone-s-story-identity-found[/efn_note]
The silent treatment and tantrums are a recognised form of coercive control. Coerced sex is rape. A similar story is shared by the trans widow Philomena who described how her husband would be ‘dressed in fishnets, PVC mini skirt and stilettos, forcing his exhausted wife/hostage to participate in violent, porn-inspired sex games every night after she gets their three young children to bed’.[efn_note]‘Philomena’s Story: There and Back Again’, Trans Widows Voices, https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/post/philomena-s-story-there-and-back-again[/efn_note] AGP is a porn induced paraphilia. John Money wrote about how a ‘paraphilic patient equated intercourse with his wife with masturbating in her vagina. In his paraphilic fantasy, she was a stage property, not a participant actor’.[efn_note]J. Money, Gay, Straight, and In-Between: The Sexology of Erotic Orientation (Oxford, Oxford University Press 1998), p. 143.[/efn_note]
Feminism has awkward questions to ask. Can men who sexually objectify women and thus dehumanise them into bits they can wear, bodies they can possess, really treat their wives and partners with respect, equality and dignity? Can men whose sexual fantasies are fuelled by pornography, the propaganda of male violence against women, really treat their wives and partners as fully human and not as things for their gratification? Can men who sexualise women’s oppression and get aroused at forcing women to participate in their fetish really treat their intimate partners as equals? The Women’s Liberation Movement must create space and acceptance for these women to talk about what men are doing to them. Like the second wave brought women’s stories of incestual abuse and abusive husbands to the forefront and forced public acknowledgement, this wave must return to the principle that the personal is political.