Gay and bisexual identity development among female-to-male transsexuals in North America: emergence of a transgender sexuality.
We studied a North American sample of female-to-male (FtM) transsexuals sexually attracted to men, aiming to understand their identity and sexuality in the context of a culture of transgender empowerment. Sex-reassigned FtM transsexuals, 18 years or older and attracted to men, were recruited via an FtM community conference and listserv. Participants (N = 25) responded to open-ended questions about identity development, sexual behavior, and social support. Data were analyzed by content analysis. Scores for sexual identity, self esteem, sexual functioning, and psychological adjustment were compared to those of a comparison group (N = 76 nontransgender gay and bisexual men). Of the 25 FtMs, 15 (60%) identified as gay, 8 (32%) as bisexual, and 2 (8%) as queer. All were comfortable with their gender identity and sexual orientation. The FtM group was more bisexual than the nontransgender gay and bisexual controls. No significant group differences were found in self esteem, sexual satisfaction, or psychological adjustment. For some FtMs, sexual attractions and experiences with men affirmed their gender identity; for others, self-acceptance of a transgender identity facilitated actualization of their attractions toward men. Most were “out” as transgender among friends and family, but not on the job or within the gay community. Disclosure and acceptance of their homosexuality was limited. The sexual identity of gay and bisexual FtMs appears to mirror the developmental process for nontransgender homosexual men and women in several ways; however, participants also had experiences unique to being both transgender and gay/bisexual. This signals the emergence of a transgender sexuality.