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Shemales: An Appreciation

by Cal Y. Pygia


Androgyne, futari, girly man, he-she, intersexed, hermaphrodite, kathoey, ladyboy, newhalf, shemale, tranny, transgender, transsexual—there are lots of names for chicks with dicks—maybe too many. As whenever such a case presents itself, it is helpful—no, mandatory—that one define one's terms. As used in this essay, "shemale" is reserved for pre-operative transsexuals who have decided that breasts have made them womanly enough and that they will forego sex-reassignment surgery, opting to retain their male genitals. These divine beings, neither fully male nor fully female, it may be argued, are the sexiest creatures in the universe. For those who believe so, a word of explanation seems to be warranted, since a sexual attraction to shemales which is more immediate, intense, and enduring than sexual attraction to either of the traditional two sexes is unusual, if increasing.

What is so attractive about chicks with dicks?

Obviously, the incongruity of a feminine appearance, facially, physically, emotionally, and otherwise, coupled with male genitals, is marvelous, even astonishing. Therefore, it is noticeable in a world in which fewer and fewer persons, places, and things have presence. In a world in which people, like objects, are more and more ignored and are becoming, therefore, increasingly invisible, shemales definitely get one's attention.

However, the astonishment that one feels could change to disgust as quickly as it can transform into appreciation. In fact, it seems that more men than not are appalled by shemales than are admiring of them. If shemales are reckoned to represent a third sex, it is apparent that not all men (or women) want a third sex. Many people, after all, prefer the status quo.

Shemales suggest that men, in mimicking women, can be all that beautiful women are characterized as being: empathetic, gentle, lovely, sensitive, sympathetic tender, and so on. In other words, they suggest that, in every man, there's a beautiful woman waiting to get out (or to "out" herself). From a psychological point of view, shemales imply that a bisexual theory of human personality is correct: there is a female component to masculinity, just as there is a masculine dimension to femininity. Sex and gender are not the neat polar opposites that unsophisticated analysts of human nature and observers of human behavior perceive and believe. There is more complexity to human existence than a set of genitals or secondary sexual characteristics alone suggest, and, as a rule, people tend to prefer the simple to the complex, the black or white to the gray. Men want men to be men and women to be women, and women want women to be women and men to be men. That way, things are straightforward, and there is no room for confusion concerning actions, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, personal identity, social expectations, roles, and a thousand other areas related to individual and collective existence and behavior. Life is hard enough when the rules are clear. Shemales threaten the definitions, understandings, and roles that not only regulate behavior but also allow meaning.

Why, then, the question persists, do some people (mostly men, it seems) find shemales irresistibly attractive and preferable, even, to females?

There's more to them than meets the eye—initially, at least. They are a "surprise," some say. They represent the "best of both worlds," others declare. They are not women. They are apparent women. They are the sort of "women" whom men prefer who do not want real women, who want only men who look like women. However, these men do not want to admit that they prefer men to women. They do not want to admit, even to themselves, that they are homosexual, because, to them, such an admission, means that they are less than men themselves and presents them with the emotional and psychological quandary of both loving and rejecting their own masculinity, of feeling ambivalent about who and what they are. When the object of one's desire has long hair; a beautiful face; wears makeup and feminine attire; has round, womanly buttocks; has shaved legs, and is equipped with breasts, it is easier to accept the male genitals. One can rationalize his attraction to the shemale by telling himself that this beautiful, feminine creature is not a man. The shemale may also not be a woman, either, exactly, but, just as clearly, "she" is not a man—at least, not fully. She is a he-she, a shemale, a third sex that is both male and female and, yet, paradoxically, at the same time, neither, male nor female.

Despite this paradox, which would have it both ways, men want to think of shemales as women, not as men. Therefore, such creatures are regarded as chicks with dicks rather than as dudes with boobs.

Ultimately, shemales are denials of femininity. They cannot conceive. They cannot bear children. They cannot become mothers or, legally, wives. They are, at most, companions—playmates rather than helpmates—built for fun, not family; for sex, not responsibility. Their fists, their mouths, or their rectums are surrogate vaginas, and, if they play the manly role, their semen cannot inseminate. Furthermore, in dating a shemale, a man need not explore the feminine within a woman or within himself, for he is not dating a true woman, but a substitute, a "shemale" rather than a female. His woman is a man-made woman. As such, she is a guarantor of sterility, and a promise against the moral and legal responsibilities that claim a father. For an actual woman, despite proper use of the Pill, there is always the chance, however slight, that she could become pregnant; with a shemale, there is no chance, ever, of pregnancy; therefore, there is no chance, ever, of fatherhood and its attendant responsibilities. There's just the fun and adventure of sex with a look-alike woman. The best of both worlds is not only the inclusion of both breasts and male genitals in the same medically and technologically revised anatomy, but it is also the denial of the biological purpose of womanhood altogether, which is verified and confirmed again and again every time that the penis enters the fist, mouth, or rectum instead of a vagina and the penetrated person's own penis, whether flaccid or erect, dangles or stands idle and superfluous.

If one rejects the biological purpose of the female, a shemale—a man transformed into an imitation of a woman—can be fun and sexy, because then it's only the sex that counts. Shemales are a part of America's love affair with what has been called the "culture of death" or the "death culture." As such, they are as sexy as the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. They second-guess God or nature, as it were, suggesting that chicks with dicks may be an equally good, if not better, partner with whom men can establish and maintain personal, social, and sexual relationships—one that does not and cannot involve reproduction. As such, the pursuit of the shemale, rather than of the female, defies the divine injunction that demands that men "be fruitful and multiply" and the very reproductive basis itself for male-female (rather than male-shemale) relationships.

Despite appearances to the contrary, a shemale is not a female. She is a contradiction, an embodiment of ambivalence and ambiguity. Ostensibly an alternative third sex that, in merging sex and gender, transcends both, she is, as a so-called chick with a dick (and without a cunt), ultimately a denial and a rejection of womanhood. Therein lies her mystique, her charisma, and her attraction for those who admire her and rejoice in her charms.




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