By Beth Orens

Back in 1997, a transwoman going by the name of Starchild0 posted an article on the alt.support.sexreassign newsgroup. In it, she proposed that the two sexual orientations we ordinarily refer to - heterosexual and homosexual - are in fact special cases of four real sexual orientations:
A person who is hardwired so that they are attracted to those whose gender differs from (complements) their own.
A person who is hardwired so that they are attracted to those whose gender matches their own.
A person who is hardwired so that they are attracted to females.
A person who is hardwired so that they are attracted to males.
While Starchild0 proposed the term Pansexual to replace the two dimensional Bisexual, I think that Ambisexual is a better term. Thus, an individual could be anywhere along the four-way spectrum created by these four orientations.

Clearly, in the case of a person who is not gender dysphoric, these four orientations will collapse into the two standard ones, and any ambisexuality will collapse into standard bisexuality. It is only in the case of those who transition from one gender to another that the full spectrum of orientations can be seen.

Suppose a man is attracted to women. Is this because he is truly attracted to females, or is it that he is attracted to members of the opposite sex? In most cases, there is no practical difference between the two. But if this man is gender dysphoric, and transitions to female, the difference becomes highly significant. If he was attracted to females, that attraction will manifest itself as lesbianism after transition. If his attraction was to the opposite sex, her attraction post-transition will be heterosexual in nature.


In Figure 1, I have demonstrated this. The square represents the four way spectrum of orientation, and the two lines are the projections into a single dimension of that spectrum for males and for females. An individual whose sexual orientation is located where the red dot appears would manifest as entirely heterosexual if male, but as bisexual tending towards lesbian if female. Thus, when a transman or a transwoman appears to be "changing orientations" following transition, it may be that nothing of the sort is happening.

I have met a wide spectrum of transfolk online since I first entered cyberspace. I have met transwomen who like men, transwomen who like women, and transwomen who have no particular preference. I have met transmen who went from being butch lesbians to being gay male drag queens, and transwomen who have gone from being little Hassidic Jewish boys to being biker dykes with an attitude. From everything I've seen, I think that Starchild0's model of sexual orientations fits better than any other I've seen.