The “Cotton Ceiling”

Of a thousand people, only a very few might want to have sex with me. For many of them, they would feel an obligation to be faithful to a partner. For many more, I would be the wrong age. Even if they would not want sex with a trans woman, or not with a post-operative trans woman, that might not be the main reason. People have varying strengths of sexual response, but I can imagine that most would not be that into me. You need to feel it to want it.

Because most people in any group would not want sex with me, I tend to feel that need not be said. I can accept it that people simply like my company without wanting more; I do not find it an insult that they do not want Heughmagandie. I don’t want sex with them, either.

This is why lesbians saying they would never have sex with a trans woman, or a pre-operative trans woman, is transphobic. It need not be said. When I meet someone I expect they will not want sex with me. If they feel the need to say so, it feels vaguely insulting, either assuming that I do not accept their non-interest, or implying I am uniquely repulsive: it’s not just that they don’t want sex, but sex with me would be impossible or unimaginable. “I would never have sex with a transwoman because I am a lesbian” is saying I am a man, or at least not a woman, and I find the statement that I am in no way a woman insulting. I am culturally a woman. That I am generally treated as a woman makes my life bearable. There is no need to say it. It is transphobic.

Possibly, a trans woman has come on to that lesbian, and not taken no for an answer. That is an unpleasant experience. I sympathise with the lesbian in those circumstances. The trans woman has no right to behave like that. But imagining that other trans women will behave in the same way because one has is transphobic. We are not all the same.

Many lesbians have had relationships with trans women. That does not make them not lesbian.

Transphobia can also make someone imagine that she will never fancy a trans woman. Generalised trans phobia might mean others never check us out, or try to get to know us.

The origin of the term was the cotton of women’s underwear, that we would never get inside. I find it an unpleasant term; I am demisexual gynaeromantic (ie not that interested physically but wanting heart-connection with a female partner) so the term seems a bit coarse to me. But it was one seminar by Planned Parenthood, with seven attendees. Here is a history of the term, and the transphobic overreaction. If you google “cotton ceiling” you find lots of TERF stuff, a lot of which is quoted on that link. It’s pretty horrible. We never meant any harm. We never did any harm.

6 thoughts on “The “Cotton Ceiling”

  1. Personally, I would never allow myself to get “cotton” that web.

    There have been both men and women who have been attracted to me (or their illusion of me). None of them have been certain just what is between my legs, but their advances seemed to indicate that they would have liked to have had some sort of a sexual experience with me. However, I do know what is between my legs, and what’s there isn’t what I want to use for sex, so I am unavailable to anyone – whether they wanted me as I am or not. Since I have a medical condition that precludes a surgery, I am destined to live out my life never knowing the kind of sexual experience I have only been able to fantasize. That fantasy has nothing to do with a cotton ceiling – or whatever.

    “Sex is between the legs; gender is between the ears” is BS. They are both between the ears.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I already have the kind of connection of which I believe you are referring. I have been in a totally monogamous relationship for 49 years, 45 of which consecrated. People used to tell me that I was a lucky man to have her for a wife, and I tried to live up to that for many years. I do, now, consider myself to be a lucky woman to have her, and this altered relationship is precious to me – maybe more so than it is to her. There is no room for sex, however. As she has moved through toleration and on to acceptance of me being a woman, she has also lost interest in me sexually. I am still attracted to her sexually, but only as a woman with female genitalia is attracted to another woman. Even altering my genitalia would not change anything in our relationship. We are more like best friends, or maybe sisters – although she is one of eight girls in her family, so I probably come in at number eight on her list. She’s not transphobic or homophobic; she is simply heterosexual – and certainly not incestuous .

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I re-read your first line several times, then read your article, then re-read the first line.
    I agree with your article, and in this, you can substitute the word ‘disabled’ and it would come out much the same. I have the same reactions, for example, to anyone who would preface any conversation with, ‘I like you but I don’t want to have sex with you….’ etc. I would run a mile. (There have been one or two…..) (I stood like a stookie in shock).

    Your first line is poignant, and, I feel, a little too judgemental to be satisfactory. We often assume an ‘objective’ tone when saying things that are actually quite prejudicial and – isolating? The Clare I know is delicious – funny, elegant, full of wisdom and knowledge. If circs were different – let’s not go into that – I might well be sexually attracted to you – BUT BUT – my point is, why make this assumption? I would agree that a happy Clare would have legions of admirers.



    • Let’s get into that. Faithfulness is important to me, and I wish I had properly seen you when we first met.

      In person, the “I like you but I would not have sex with you” is the projection of a conflicted person, whose unconscious drives conflict with their conventional thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This has made me wonder how I could rewrite “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” with a trans theme. If Esmeralda were a trans woman, would she be seen to be any more desirable than Quasimodo? Or, maybe Quasimodo could be the trans woman who becomes Esmeralda. It still ends tragically, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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