The blurred lines between ‘transamory’ and chasing

In this excerpt from their new book, “Gender/Fucking,” writer and professor Florence Ashley unpacks “chaserdom” and the fetishization of trans femininity

Alberta-based writer and professor Florence Ashley has, in their own words, “put the sex back in transsexual” (though they note this is “more pun than wisdom”). Ashley’s new book, Gender/Fucking: The Pleasure and Politics of Living in a Gendered Body, spans topics from surgery recovery to pansexuality to t4t love. It is steamy, smart and vulnerable, combining criticism, personal essays and erotica. In it, Ashley seamlessly blends the intimate with the academic. In the chapter “Trespass on the Fox,” from which this excerpt is taken, Ashley writes about the lines between the label “transamorous” and “chasers,” merging their lived and learned experiences. 


Under the cover of anonymity, doubtless many of my lustful followers would sport the ‘transamorous’ label. Their relationship to transfeminine bodies structured by eroticization, I have come to know them as ‘chasers.’ There is probably a fine metaphor to be made with their metonym. Something about their discreet pace in the shadow, the terror sparking in our bambi eyes—although I guess Fleur is the trans one in that movie—and the feast they make out of our bodies. I was taught that they do not love transfeminine people, that they would not dare be seen in public with me. I was taught that they do not love us; they fuck us. We are creatures. Like meat, we are disposable. At least, that’s what I was taught. 

After manually blocking 900-something cis men who turned the most mundane captures of my life into objects of sexual consumption, I struggle to trust cis men. Not all grizzlies, but this fawn would never. I struggle to trust cis men when walking down the street means threatening yells and objects thrown at my body, at the very same time as another dinged my phone with ‘that’s hot.’ What fawn would ever? They told me they love my cock, not even knowing it is only ever flaccid. I don’t know how to begin trusting cis men when they tell me they love me, that they aren’t chasers, that they don’t fetishize me, that they only have a healthy, respectful preference. What about my broad shoulders, my soft scruff, my drooping tummy? Do you love them too? 

It is not that I distrust men so much as I dystrust them. My distrust is shapely in its inescapable wedding to the dysphoric hypersexualization of phallic female forms qua other, qua never-quite-female. Dysphoric distrust or trust that dysphoria shall come? ‘That’s hot,’ echoes the woman who excitedly invited me to play in-between to her female self and male friend, with her tone that said I would not dare say no, that her desire was a gift. The chaser gaze finds my transfeminine body enticing because it can never be female—and not because I am non-binary, since I wasn’t back then. No. It can never be female to them because it is the gender in-betweenness that makes me taboo and, thus, arousing. The day trans women become women in the eyes of society is the day the chaser ceases to be. I am not sure I want to be a stepping-stone in not-so-straight men’s journey of sexual self-discovery. This isn’t to say that attraction to trans women is gay—but it is to posit that chaserdom and straightness might just be mutually exclusive. 

 

Awash in dystrust, transamory is not something I can believe in. They are all chasers. If not in essence, then at least in nature; if not in actuality, then at least in potentiality. That’s the problem with dystrust. It knows no distinction between chaserdom and transamory. Even from flawless words, a man attracted to me breeds dystrust. My emotion projects itself into the world, spreading like a neurotoxin. My dystrust makes men chasers—not literally but metaphorically, by depositing in every soul the seed of chaser gaze and, along with it, a dysphoric potential. Without the curio, the fetish, the misgendering, is it possible for a cis man to love a woman because she is trans—rather than despite? My guts tell me their love is lust. Their sweat smells of lust. Their cum tastes of it. A venomous lust—a sting soon followed by dysphoric anaphylaxis. Kissing them, I feel like a white-tailed deer raising her head at grass ruffling in the wind, not knowing if I’m about to get shot, mauled, or caressed by the cooling air. My senses have led me astray before.

Excerpted with permission from Gender/Fucking: The Pleasures and Politics of Living in a Gendered Body by Florence Ashley. ©2024 Florence Ashley. Published by CLASH Books www.clashbooks.com

Florence Ashley

Florence Ashley is a transfeminine jurist and bioethicist. Metaphorically a biorg witch with flowers in their hair.

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