Comment Of The Day (1): The Transgender Secret: Was I Right Then, Or Am I Right Now?

Many, many excellent comments followed this post. The issue, covered here before but long ago, was when a transgender individual is ethically obligated to reveal that fact to a romantic target, or partner. The Ethics Alarms poll on the question reached these results:

Here is the first of two Comments of the Day from The Transgender Secret: Was I Right Then, Or Am I Right Now?; this one is by Rich in CT.

I voted “before having sex” and/or “when the relationship becomes serious”; as these were the earliest stages on the list. I also included “when marriage becomes a possibility” as the latest possible time to reveal. (I did not include “first kiss”, as this is too vague a time period)

My take would be as soon as practical (including at soon as the overt risk of a violent reaction is ruled out). The current consensus is that gender and orientation are spectrums, not binary absolutes. Within this logic, we have a duty to understand and respect our romantic partner’s place on the spectrum. One (of ant orientation) might be exclusively attracted to the extreme end of the female gender spectrum, for instance. This might preclude attraction someone with a surgically transitioned body. Since gender and orientation are considered persistent traits, it is not necessarily bias alone that dictates this exclusive attraction.

One must also consider cultural values of a partner. Any relationship I’ve been in, I’ve made known early on that kids (naturally conceived) are a long term goal of mine. On this basis alone, I might decline to pursue any women with known infertility. Were such detail withheld, I would feel extremely hurt and betrayed.

Of course, I have a duty to communicate such deal breakers. My feeling of betrayal would stem from being lied to repeatedly when these conversations happened early on.

I am acutely aware of such values and issues, and know to discuss them. The vast majority of the nation may not. A surgically transitioned woman (or the reverse), is in a unique position of power, having gone through significant counseling prior to surgery to understand her situation. She has a Golden Rule obligation to help her partner understand and clarify his or her values and orientation, to have the best chance at a successful relationship.

Once there is a sufficiently safe rapport, a person of transitioned gender has a duty to inform the other. This duty, however, is not truly distinct from the duty any couple has to learn and respect each other.

Ignorance and lies are a house of cards…..


9 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day (1): The Transgender Secret: Was I Right Then, Or Am I Right Now?

  1. I would differ with the statement “. . . The current consensus is that gender and orientation are spectrums, not binary absolutes.” Certainly orientation is: Only flat earthers would disagree that men and women can have feminine or masculine characteristics that differ from their chromosomal makeup and attractions that vary along a spectrum. However, gender (biological identity) is fixed and concepts such as “gender fluid” and “non-binary” are bogus.

    • Intersex isn’t bogus though. Through flukes of biology, gender isn’t always clear.

      The ethics of the intersex is very different than transgender though. Historically a forced binary gender was selected. In that case, gender dysphoria is completely understandable. The ethical position is to let the individual decide based on how they feel.

      • Again, I disagree: “Always trust your feelings” sounds wise and familiar. It’s the basis of much pop psychology. At any rate feelings (emotions) are always changing from moment to moment and should not trump rational consideration and common sense.

        • How do you respond to studies that consistently show improved well being and mental health following transition? How do you respond to the 0.5% of the population who consistently feel their bodies were built incorrectly, often stating from an early age they are no the gender they appear to be (even against the parents wishes). How do you respond to longitudinal studies following children who enter treatment for dysphoria, who with counseling, choose to pursue transitioning. How do you respond to the high drop out rates where children who are not candidates are filtered out of transition treatment. How do you respond to the high satisfaction rates (99%) with transition in adulthood?***

          On what basis do you rule out transitioning as a “rational” response to a particular set of persistent feelings?

          ***As an aside, I feel deep distress for the 1% who regret their transition. In the US, this is a potential population of 15,000 (300M*0.5%*1.0%) who have fallen through the cracks. There are stories of adults and children pushed into inappropriate treatments that need to be part of the public discussion (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.