People have fetishes. More importantly, people are allowed to have fetishes. It's nothing unusual to deviate from the sexual norms and seek pleasure in unique and creative ways. Fellow human beings, however, should not qualify as a fetish.
That's not to say that someone can't have dating preferences. While it might be a bit shallow to only be attracted to someone with blonde hair, it's not inherently discriminatory unless you go out of your way to spread disdain for those who don't have blonde hair. But if you're obsessive over blonde hair to the point where the only reason you're even interested in someone is their hair, then there's a problem.
In my own experience in both dating and hookup apps, I've come across more people with "a thing for trans girls" than I would have ever liked. Some of them knew what a chaser was and some of them didn't, but in both cases, they have denied that they are one.
While the concept of a "chaser" might seem simple at first – someone who fetishizes, in this case, transgender people and seeks to sleep with them on the sole basis of them being trans – it can often be far more complicated than just that.
Some chasers have no self-awareness and have done zero evaluation of themselves and their attraction to trans girls. Both are chasers. For the record, we loathe hearing lines like, "I'm tired of women's bullshit, so I'm getting more interested in trans instead," or comments about how we're "more sexual" than cis women.
But it can be flattering to hear from so many men and women about how beautiful and amazing you are, right? Well, only until you snap back into the cold reality of all the wrong reasons they're trying to woo you. It's shallow and empty, reeking of desperation.
If you have an expectation about what someone is like without meeting them, you're probably wrong. People typically know that, yet it seems as though people make exceptions for certain populations, especially if they want something out of it.
So how can someone be interested in someone who's trans without being referred to as a chaser? What about when someone prefers transgender over cisgender partners? What are some of the understandable reasons for having such a preference?
For one, being transgender or gender non-conforming yourself can make it justifiable, at least to an extent. There will still be those who take it too far and reduce others to mere fetishes, but overall, there's a sense of shared experience there. There can be a disconnect of understanding with cisgender people.
For cisgender people who prefer transgender people for dates or hookups, it comes down to what you understand about yourself and what you understand about the one you're attracted to. If you would date a woman regardless of what she was assigned at birth, then that's a good sign that it's probably healthy. If you've had good experiences with trans folks in the past and feel as if you can connect with them better, then that can be a good sign as well. The latter still might raise suspicions, but it can be the most innocent form of attraction.
If you truly are attracted to transgender people with justifiable reasons, your affections probably won’t cause a problem for your transgender paramour, but know this: There are hundreds of thousands of others who aren't as well-meaning, and they leave lasting paranoia for those they've hurt.
Heather Maloney is a writer, editor, and creative thinker from Atlanta with a vested interest in gender and sexuality. Photo by Rayne Nelson/Zuma.
This article originall appeared in Q magazine. View the full issue below: