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Posted by / 09-Feb-2020 03:08

As she gazes into her screen, she can’t stop smiling. But Jules’ romance on the show, which is airing the final episode of its first season on August 4, isn’t quite like other high school love stories on TV.Jules is transgender, and her character is played by the model and actress Hunter Schafer, who is also trans.They Snapchat me from burner accounts—not the ones they use to snap their friends—and their promises of dates are often achingly hollow.After texting me for weeks, they are too afraid to meet. In an effort to better understand what’s going through these boys’ heads, I reached out to Perry Gruber, who counsels trans-attracted men through his program, the Transamorous Network.The show hints that Nate wrestles with his sexuality—he’s insanely awkward about seeing naked men in the locker room, while his phone is littered with other guys’ dick pics—but it’s unclear if he has feelings for Jules or merely uses her for his own selfish ends.My own dating life isn’t quite so dramatic, but whether Jules is tempting a straight-identified man, or simply getting played, I can relate.

A spokesperson for Scruff, who was pleased by that roughly 5 percent of its users are either trans-identified or looking for trans people.

Then I ask him whether or other positive depictions of trans people have started coming up in his work. “Most of the guys we’ve talked with get their ongoing awareness of trans women from porn.” This doesn’t surprise me.

It’s consistent with the work of trans journalist Diana Tourjée, whose stories about trans-attracted men reveal that many cite porn as an influence.

“It’s an external shame specifically,” he tells me.

“Shame about not wanting people in their lives to know that they have these desires.” Gruber, who also runs a spiritual support network and identifies as transamorous himself, agrees with me when I point out that the number of trans-attracted men who treat their romantic partners as whole human beings seems small.

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Gruber says the men he works with are often insecure and confused as to whether their attraction to trans women is “wholesome and legitimate.” If they “subscribe to the flawed premise” that everyone with a penis is male, they might wonder if their attraction to trans women makes them gay, or view it as “a perversion to be exorcised.” These men are stigmatized not only by society, says Gruber, but also by the trans women they seek.