Ada Powers
3 min readJun 6, 2017


First off, this:

Everyone should have the right to present as whatever gender they want in private consensual spaces, but demanding that the public must participate in a transgender fetish (by treating the person as if they are the gender they want to be seen as) is not part of that right.

means that you are already a person I have no desire to associate with or talk to, ever. But, let’s continue anyway.

When mainstream society discriminates against an identity, there are two basic ways to respond: by insisting the problem is not your fault, and by insisting it’s not a problem.

You can see this in how the matter of gayness has been handled over recent decades. First, messaging pushed squarely on the “born this way” argument: it was unfair to discriminate against gay people, even if you thought what they were doing was immoral, because it wasn’t a choice they were making. This works, to an extent, but it requires a biologically essentialist view of sexuality as its tentpole: if there’s, e.g., a gay gene, then the people who have it get a pass, and the people who don’t are just faking. And what of bisexuals? This approach creates a protected class, but leaves everyone else out in the dark, and moreover, crafts rhetoric that can be used to oppress them further.

Obviously, the most progressive way to respond would be: what the hell is wrong with dudes kissing dudes? Why find excuses for it, reasons why it’s not a choice? What’s wrong with it being a choice? And fortunately, we seem to be heading in that direction, albeit slowly.

Trans people find themselves at a similar crossroads. In a vacuum of acceptance from society, the intense-physical-dysphoria-from-a-young-age narratives are our “born this way” argument, and when we lean on them it creates a litmus test for transgenderism that is used, as you are trying here, to exclude not only non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid individuals, but even plain-Jane trans women like myself who don’t fit neatly into that box.

(A box that greatly benefits normative society, mind you, as all one must do to make the “trans problem” go away is discourage parents from letting their children identify as trans from a young age, then tell them as adults that if they were really trans they’d have known sooner. And while doing so, continually spreading and reinforcing the cissexist, binarist notions of gender that keep some of us from ever waking up to who we are.)

So, to briefly summarize before continuing: fuck off about who belongs under the tent.

To your other point: I never called gender euphoria a kink in a definitive sense. I was specifically addressing the other profoundly harmful viewpoint you’re so helpfully representing here: that being attracted to the idea of yourself as another gender is a) purely sexual, b) shameful, and c) a thing that is separate from being transgender. This is the whole raison d’être of autogynephilia, an idea singularly responsible for thousands of person-years of delayed transition and closeted misery.

For being attracted to yourself as, say, a woman, to be a sexual kink, it requires the supposition that you are not already a woman. Do we call it a fetish when people think their own bodies are sexy? Do we call it a fetish when people look in the mirror and think “damn, I look good”? The whole point I was making is that society works hard to deprive people of the language to describe their own gendered experience, and sometimes all you have to go on is a strong feeling of affinity that your body has no idea how to interpret. Making deviant one of the most common interpretations of that sensation is yet another tool that is used to divide and conquer trans people before we can even come into our own identities. Not to mention how it reeks of the same puritanical ideology that marks us all as sexual deviants.

And finally—and please, imagine my middle finger extending as you read this—I do not care if a person has an erotic kink around transition. Their own, or otherwise. It’s up to them to decide if that makes them trans, and I don’t want to live in a world where you, me, or anyone else gets to take that decision away from them.

We align ourselves with our oppressors when we perpetuate their gatekeeping. Moving some of us to the other side of the gate doesn’t really mean anything, in the long run. I hope you can see that.