I end every show with an editorial on one pressing and personal cultural topic. This week’s editorial discusses a topic I’ve written about previously: the shame and stigma attached to being attracted to trans women. This time, rapper Tyga was allegedly having an affair with a trans woman, named Mia Isabella, shedding a spotlight on why trans women are made to feel as if they are not worthy of love, respect and desire. Watch the segment and read the transcript below.
This week, blogger B Scott published text conversations that included nude photos of rapper Tyga – the 25-year-old boyfriend of 17-year-old reality star Kylie Jenner. The sexts were allegedly received by porn star and model Mia Isabella who has reportedly been seeing Tyga for the past three years.
Being caught with your pants down never fails to make gossip headlines but this story garnered an added layer of tabloid scrutiny because Mia Isabella, the woman who allegedly got sexted by Tyga, is a trans woman.
Through his lawyer, Tyga denies having engaged in an affair with Isabella or sending her the photos, which he does confirm are in fact authentic, telling TMZ, “The allegations [that Tyga sent the photos to Isabella] are false and socially irresponsible during a time when many Americans are celebrating equality.” Tyga’s lawyer goes on to claim the rapper is the victim of a conspiracy designed to “maliciously shame” him.
And shame is the piece that I want to unpack here. This story hit the internet with the intent to shame Tyga: there’s the nude piece, the affair piece, and of course, the being caught with a trans woman piece.
Tyga is the latest in a long line of famous men who have reportedly desired the bodies of trans women, bodies that our culture have deemed illegitimate, unnatural and fake, and because we do not view trans women as “real women,” the heterosexual cisgender men who are entangled with and attracted to trans women, are checked as not real men because they desire bodies that are deemed illegitimate.
Eddie Murphy, Hank Baskett, Casper Smart and Mister Cee are just a few of the public men who’ve been allegedly involved in secret interactions with trans women. And Tyga is not the first hip hop celebrity to share headlines with a trans woman.
Just two years ago, New York radio DJ Mister Cee was secretly filmed on-camera soliciting sex from a person he perceived to be a trans woman. It led him to briefly resign from his job at Hot 97 and tearfully open up on-air about his sexual attraction to trans women.
It was a pivotal moment for hip-hop – a culture where realness equates to hypermasculinity and heteronormativity – yet it did little to unpack the harmful misconceptions that continue to plague men who desire trans women – a conversation that I do feel these men who desire the bodies of trans women need to be having among themselves and with their communities.
I am not invested in defending and/or making excuses for the millions of men who desire trans women’s bodies in secret, either on the web, via affairs and flings, or through sex work. I am invested in what this public shaming does to the women who are kept in the dark, who are made to feel they are unworthy of love and acknowledgement, who are made to feel as if they are only deserving of ridicule, harassment and violence.
Gratefully, the woman at the center of this tabloid scandal, Mia Isabella, refuses to be reduced to a headline, saying in a statement: “It’s very sad that the idea of a man loving a trans person has to be considered a scandal when all people are equal—love always wins doesn’t it? I live in a world in my mind where everything is a fairy tale of love.”
She continued, “Are we not all equal? Am I not an American with the right to love and live as I choose with whoever I choose? If a celebrated man loves a transgender woman or possibly did that’s news? It shouldn’t be news it should be normal for anyone and everyone to be allowed to love who they choose.”
People’s bodies, their attractions and their sexualities should not be policed or shamed. There are many kinds of women, as there are many kinds of men, who desire many kinds of women, and guess what? Trans women are among these women who are desired, and there is nothing shameful, laughable or headline-worthy about that.
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