Like many terms in our little world, such as “passing”, “being read” and “clocking”, catfishing means something other than what you’d think it would.
‘Catfishing’, or ‘fishing’, is used a lot more broadly than it used to. According to Urban Dictionary, it’s defined as the phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).
But for a while it was used to describe a t-girl who really, ah, enjoyed “tricking” cisgender heterosexual men into them thinking they were a cisgender girl. Usually the reveal occurred during an intimate moment, if you know what I mean.
I’ve always hated this. And here’s why!
First of all, there’s no such thing as what a girl should look like, whether she is transgender or cisgender. Girls can be tall or have a penis or need to shave their face. Catfishing typically involves a t-girl looking SO FEMININE that men are duped into thinking that she is a cisgender girl. Look, I understand and can relate to wanting to dress and present as feminine as someone possibly can. I attempt this with every outfit I wear and with every makeover I get. But I do what I do and wear what I wear because this is how I want to look and how I want to dress. I don’t think any of us needs to meet certain standards to be feminine, to be a girl, to be pretty.
Secondly, intentionally deceiving people is not a good look for the trans community. Some haters like to think that transwomen are trying to deceive men into thinking they are cisgender. And to be fair, that’s kind of what catfishing is. But I don’t think most transwomen are trying to deceive anyone.
This is also potentially very dangerous for someone to do. When we come out to someone we never really know how they will react. Someone learning that the cute girl they are in bed with has a penis could turn violent. There are too many stories of men getting angry when they learn that they are talking with a transwoman when they believed they were speaking with a cisgender girl. In situations like this it’s not uncommon for someone to use the “gay panic defense”. Citing Wikipedia, this is when a defendant claims to have acted in a state of violent, temporary insanity, committing assault or murder, because of unwanted same-sex sexual advances, typically from men. A defendant may allege to have found the same-sex sexual advances so offensive or frightening that they were provoked into reacting, were acting in self-defense, were of diminished capacity, or were temporarily insane, and that this circumstance is exculpatory or mitigating.
Again, I absolutely understand and can relate to wanting to look as femme as possible. But how I present is 1000000% about ME. I don’t dress for anyone else. I don’t dress to pass or to blend in. I don’t care if anyone “knows” I am transgender and it’s not a compliment if someone thinks that I am cisgender.
Finally, catfishing has an element of competition to it as well. Some t-girls and crossdressers who catfish sometimes gloat about how successful they are in tricking men and can criticize others for not looking “fishy” enough. Can we stop doing this? Can we stop competing with each other? Can we stop bringing others down?
We’re all in this together. We always have been, and we will always need to be, now more than ever.
Stay safe, stay pretty, support each other.