Trans Actress Calls Out Men Who Flirt With Her In Secret But Deny It To Their Friends — 'They Rely On The Approval Of Their Brethren'

It seems like in many cases, transphobia, like homophobia before, relies quite literally on a specific kind of fear.

Trace Lysette Kathy Hutchins | Shutterstock, formatoriginalphotos, Monkey Business Images / Canva

Everywhere you turn these days there is a new uproar and legislative attack on transgender people from conservative politicians claiming their mere existence is a violation of religious ideals and a danger to children.

There's no evidence to suggest either of those concerns are valid, so you have to wonder if the equal parts ridiculous and deadly trans panic we are seeing might be due to something else — like maybe the actual fear suggested by the term "transphobia."


Actress Trace Lysette says many men secretly want trans women but hide it — and she's speaking from experience.

Trace Lysette has become one of Hollywood's most prominent trans actresses over the course of her boundary-breaking 10-year career, in which she's best known for performances in Amazon's Emmy-winning "Transparent" and films like "Hustlers" and "Monica." 

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Recently, Lysette shared one of the ways her success has impacted interactions she has with men who try to come onto her, especially at the gym. 

The anti-trans movement has always had an element of hypocrisy to it. Numerous studies of internet browsing data have revealed that Republican voters are the biggest consumers for adult entertainment featuring trans performers, for example.

Lysette's experience perfectly dovetails with those findings, and more importantly indicates that America's problems with anti-trans sentiment have more causes than just political propaganda and religious zealotry.

Lysette says she is regularly flirted with by men who secretly want trans women but denigrate her when their friends are within earshot.

Lysette took to TikTok to share a "rant about these guys at the gym on the basketball court, who are trying to dish my tea to their homies — as if their homies haven't already tried to holler." And the story she told is very revealing.




Lysette said she frequently overhears men on the basketball court at her gym where she regularly shoots hoops warning each other about her, "Like, yo, shorty over there, she's trans or whatever," thinking that she can't hear them because she has her earbuds in.

"But what's crazy," she went on to say, "is that when they're not around, their homeboys are trying to kick it with me." Lysette said these men have bought her smoothies or offered her rides home in order to flirt with her when their "homies" aren't in earshot.

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Lysette says this is due to many men's tendency to 'rely on the approval' of each other rather than their own true identities.

"It's insane how much they rely on the approval of their brethren," Lysette said in her video of these men. "Like, free yourself, free yourself. Y'all are so caught up with what your homeboy thinks."

She went on to point out that, in most cases, these men know exactly who they're talking to. She is a public figure, after all. As she put it, "It's not a secret, you know my business is out on the internet, I'm not trying to fool nobody."

She added that she doesn't make any attempts to hide who she is because, like so many queer people, she doesn't have a choice. "This is me," she said, "I own whatever space I walk into because I have to, 'cause that is survival for me. I can't walk in looking scared nowhere. That's not how it is for me."

And it seems men definitely respond to that confidence, so long as there aren't other men around to hear them, of course. Lysette had some pointed advice for these men.


"You need to go home and sort through whatever feelings you have by whatever means necessary," she said. "Whatever your homeboy likes and whatever you might like, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Okay?"

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Lysette's experience is part of a wider dynamic of men hiding their attractions and often becoming violent because of them.

The past two years have seen unprecedented levels of both violence and legislative attacks against transgender people in the US, and the problem is growing overseas. The UK government reported that 2023 saw a record-breaking number of anti-trans hate crimes in England and Wales. It's hard not to think of this when hearing Lysette's story about the way men treat her.

Simply chalking transphobia up to men's panic over their sexual attractions to trans people is reductive and cliché, and obscures the true depth of the challenges and dangers trans people face. Still, there's a reason the so-called "gay panic defense" in criminal cases involving violence against LGBTQ+ people has been a feature of the legal system for decades.


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But Lysette's experience is also part of a wider problem that extends beyond just worries about sexual orientation.

"Dating the hot girl," TikToker Therese (@thereselee6) said in a stitch of Lysette's video, "[is] not about the hot girl. It's not about really even liking her or loving her, and it's not about how she feels about you. It's about how you look with the hot girl on your arm."




Therese pointed out that men frequently hide their attractions to her too, because she's Black and plus-sized. (Gay men do this too, by the way — take it from a paunchy gay man who once dated a guy who refused to hang out with him in public because he usually dated models.)

This, in turn, serves to further stigmatize people who aren't the ones men are "supposed" to be attracted to — attitudes that frequently turn violent.


Part of the way conservative politicians have had so much success in their campaigns against trans people is by leveraging many people's reflexive disgust at the notion of transness, or even queerness, in general, in order to gin up support for their dehumanizing legislative attacks.

But from Lysette's story to the aforementioned adult entertainment data to the myriad anti-LGBTQ+ conservative politicians who have been disgraced by the revelation of their own queer proclivities over the years, there is an obvious truth being obscured by all the uproar and "grooming" accusations being hurled at LGBTQ+ people these days.

A lot more supposedly "alpha," "straight" men have queer attractions than we might think. We would all do well to keep that in mind whenever politicians with axes to grind try to sell us a different, dehumanizing story.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.