Thinking “Softer” about Men . . . and Love

| Jul 30, 2018

by Cheryl Ann “Cassie” Sanders

First a credit.

In a letter I had recently from Jenny Mahoney,* a subtle thinker, fine writer, and regular contributor to this website, was found this wonderful paragraph reflecting on her changing attitudes toward men now that she is far along in transition:

“I am much more forgiving toward men now, even like them in a soft kind of way. I used to be quite contemptuous of them, feeling they were cruel and shallow. Now, strangely, I think I have a better understanding of men, and love them for the way they try to balance the wild forces raging inside of them.”

Jenny’s writing seems always to set me off to thinking about my own attitudes and into trying to reach some conclusions, general, sociological, even philosophical, about the ideas evoked. This splendid (and, as usual, wonderfully personal and candid) observation was no exception.

It set before me a simple question: has my own opinion of men as Alan Barrie been different than has my opinion of men as Cassie?

I think that the answer is certainly yes, they have been different. But oddly, my own gender variances were exactly the opposite of Jenny’s.

Cassie has always found it too easy to align her perceptions of men with those of the many feminists who honestly find men too selfish, too myopic, too much prisoners of their raging hormones, too programmed toward competition and contest, too devoted to mini-wars of relative power of the physical, intellectual, or material or of positional status, too perpetually boys, habitual children incapable of thinking much beyond their own immediate emotional and physical needs; in short, creatures incapable of devotion to the same kind of romantic love as is a woman.

Alan, on the other hand, has thought about and even written about how unfair that is to men … and how untrue.

Men are certainly capable of romantic love, in fact crave it with the same intensity as women. Testosterone may occasionally cloud their most immediate vision, but that has nothing to do with their absolutely comparable need and desire for profound connection with another human being, for romance, for love.

There’s a sad, old cliché. It’s a cliché that’s easily acceptable as both comic and absolutely plausible. On more careful reflection, the very plausibility of this comic cliché itself says something important about what we all really know is true about men no matter how much we may express our doubts.

Here’s the scene: the call girl comes into the man’s hotel room. Financial matters are discussed and settled. The efficient call girl turns down the bedspreads and starts to undress. And the man says: “can’t we just talk for a few minutes first?”

The need for connection: men are just fumbling their way through their romantic lives. Just like women.

And if men fumble about more than women do, but still persevere in their search for love, then perhaps we should just consider their struggles endearing, should in Jenny’s words, “love them for the way they try to balance the wild forces raging inside of them.”

So, I conclude that Alan and Jenny are more right than was Cassie. Cassie has had her mind changed.

Maybe we shouldn’t be so dismissive.

Maybe we should just love them.

Maybe we should consider letting them hold us in their arms.

*If I remember correctly, “Jenny Mahoney,” an oft contributor to TGForum “back in the day” later “came out” to be, in fact, the bestselling transgender author Jennifer Finney Boylan.


Cheryl Ann Sanders was a frequent contributor to Transgender Forum in the past. She has been absent for several years while writing and publishing a (quite successful) straight novel under another name.

Many also know her TG novel A Woman’s  Passion written under the name Alan Barrie. It was at one time the bestselling TG novel of all times. Although more than 15 years old, it still sells in dribs and drabs on Amazon. Still others remember her essay that appeared here several years ago: …And What I Wore. An “occasional woman” at that time, this was a memoir of a weekend she actually spent as a woman with a man in New York City. That memoir can still be found in our archives. Unfortunately, the photographs that illustrate that archived version have been lost. A safe PDF version with its photographs still intact is available for download hereCassie can be reached via email.

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Category: Opinion

About the Author ()

Cheryl Ann Sanders was a frequent contributor to Transgender Forum in the past. She has been absent for several years while writing and publishing a (quite successful) straight novel under another name.

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  1. Cheryl Ann Sanders says:

    I want to confirm Angela’s recollection. The “Jenny Mahoney” who was a frequent contributor to TGForum back in the day is, in fact, the now quite famous author, columnist, frequent tg-issues spokesperson and congressional testimony expert, cast member of the reality show about the life of Caitlin Jenner, college professor, and all around great representative of our community, Jennifer Finney Boylan. In my opinion, TRANSGENDER FORUM should be proud of its role in Professor Boylan’s journey to find her true self. Cassie