I wish to talk about how I feel objectified by my ex-partner who was a man when I was with him (and at the time defined himself as a transvestite), and who now identifies as a transwoman. Whilst I was with my partner he was open about being transvestite, told me that he had bought a dress and started shaving his legs. My position on this was that it was absolutely his right to do that, but I told my partner that whilst I was supportive of his choices, in all honesty it didn’t appeal to my own sexuality, (and I believe it is anyone’s right to have their own sexual preferences). As a result he would dress up in private (please note this was not at my request, but something he chose to do I suppose as a form of compromise). However, I often felt objectified and fetishized by this partner, having a fuss made over some garment I was wearing for example, which made me feel uncomfortable in the way it would trivialise my experience of being a woman by reducing it to an item of clothing and a focus on ‘femininity’ which I didn’t feel represented me or my worth as a human being. In addition, this partner would fantasise while having sex with me that we were a pair of lesbians. Again, I fully support and respect lesbians, but I am not one, and I felt in some ways that I was having this narrative projected onto our relationship, which again felt like a compromise of my own sexuality. Eventually we broke up amicably, but we have remained friends. The problem I have is that this person has felt it their right to ‘transplain’ the difficulties of being a woman to me on several occasions, which I find is becoming an alarming trend coming from a lot of transwomen. For example, he explained what it was like to be street-harassed and suggested I couldn’t know what it was like, as though I had never experienced it! I believe it is the right for any person to express their sexuality if it doesn’t conform to gender norms, and I believe transpeople as all people are deserving of respect, but I am deeply concerned by some aspects of the trans-activist movement which appears to be dictatorial about notions of sexuality and gender, and what a woman and sexuality is, and even who we should be sleeping with. Speaking specifically about my ex, they call themselves a woman, but this individual exhibits all the signs of middle-class white male privilege in the confidence they have to express themselves and indeed to mansplain. To be fair to my ex, who is an intelligent and sensitive person in many ways, they do have some awareness of this and accept they have privilege due to their upbringing, but unfortunately many in the trans-community do not. They demand they are accepted not only as women, but even in some cases a superior form of woman due to inherently sexist notions which all relate to appearance – quality of make-up for example – rather than life experience. Some even argue that a lesbian to not want to be with a transwoman who has a penis is transphobic. I don’t wish to disrespect anybody, but for some (not all) transwomen, being a transwoman is not about ‘feeling’ like a woman, but about wanting to be admired as a woman and having a festish for this, as with my ex. I do not suggest this is in any way wrong morally, but it is an infringement of women’s rights and indeed insulting to women when it is demanded that they play along with such a fetish even when it means denying themselves their own definition, thoughts, feelings and sexuality. In my case, to do so would be to claim that I am therefore a lesbian, which I am not (again, no homophobia in this statement, I’m fighting for the rights of straight, gay and bi women alike to define themselves and their sexuality here in saying this). Unfortunately, because as women we are brought up to be people pleasers, and indeed because we experience so much aggression at the hands of men, we have always been grateful for allies, which transwomen have always been seen as. But ultimately, natal women should be the ones who define what it is to be a woman, not people who were born and raised as men.