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A reality television programme kicked off a debate about whether it's discriminatory or transphobic to refuse to date a transsexual person. As might be expected in such a situation, tensions run high and conversations can be fractious. One of the housemates is India Willoughby, a TV journalist who had an established career as a man before transitioning to become a woman.
Willoughby asked her housemates about their dating preferences, and the resulting conversation kicked off a social media storm. I would choose not to," replied the R'n'B singer Ginuwine. The conversation rumbled on. When Willoughby suggested "Let's have a kiss," Ginuwine replied "no" and leaned away from her. India was later seen telling another guest that "all this superficial stuff that you are a woman and all that sounds great and is the right thing to say. But it makes no difference if people don't believe it - that's the problem.
While some housemates defended Ginuwine's refusal to date a transsexual woman as a "preference", the issue divided the audience on Twitter.
The debate has continued to reverberate inside the house. Viewers of the programme vote off guests one at a time until a winner is selected, and on Friday India Willoughby is one of two celebrities facing a vote and possible eviction. Some viewers claimed Ginuwine rebuffing the notion of dating a trans woman was discrimination or transphobia - dislike or fear of transgender people.
But others backed the "preference" argument and said the singer was entitled to state his dating choices without being criticised.
The debate reverberated on other social networks and outside the UK as well. Ginuwine was having a very comfortable conversation with India. If you are afraid of trans people, if you are excluding trans women from womanhood then you are being transphobic. It was more of an ignorance, fed by a media that often depicts trans women in a sensationalised way, with strong bone structure trans man nude husky low-baritone voices," Miss SaHHara says.
When you don't fancy someone you should talk about their characteristics. It's not as black and white as many people think it is because whether you are attracted to someone or not is about being attracted to a fellow human being. However, Dr Liadh Timmins, who specialises in sexual orientation and gender identity at King's College London, describes the comments as "transphobic". A "cis woman" or "cisgendered" person is someone whose gender identity matches the one they were born with.
Blog by Jonathan Griffin.
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