The Problem with Men Like Bobby Valentino and Why It’s More Than Hypersexualizing of Trans Women

By Sabrina Samone

I can’t be the only trans woman this has happened too. You’re out shopping, a handsome man approaches you and starts a conversation. He opens the door for you, and asks do you have kids? How can your husband have you out here by yourself, fine as you are? You tell him you have no kids, or a husband. He continues with his inquisitive approach to figuring you out, while he asks for your number and a date. You can feel him watching you, studying you and if it’s a good day it just ends innocently there. Those other days is when his eyes swells, he stops and takes a step back to really look at you. He begins to figure out  your T (truth)¹, or the more politically correct phrase; sees that your gender identity differs from your assigned birth. Your heart beats faster, and sweat builds. You wonder how this will go. Will you be another statistic, or will this be an educational moment? Then again, could this be the moment you meet your soul mate? The questions, the anxiety, the uncertainty of being trans, but you got this.

Now come the questions like; ‘So you’re trans, I would have never known?’ He begin looking around to see if anyone else is watching him. For the past 30 minutes he seemed to have been unaware anyone else in the world existed, but now that he knows, he acts as if both of you are standing nude in the middle of a giant NFL stadium. The conversation has changed from asking you out on a date, to informing you that he has never been sexually active with a transgender woman before. More often than not the line continues as, but I always wanted to try. Maybe he tells you the first time he saw a transgender porn film, or a nude image of a nude trans-girl and how he was so turned on. Now you wonder did he know all along, as he continues telling you of his fantasies of one day meeting a rare unicorn. Yes you are entering the hyper-sexualized zone of being a transgender woman, and in fact, any woman.

Men are visual creatures, and predators. Before the masculists label me as a male hating feminist, I don’t mean predator in the registered sex offender sense. Predator as in a male’s primal sexual instinct. He enjoys the hunt. As my mother once said, it must not be up to the man how far to go with a woman, because if it was, he’d definitely go all the way every time. It’s up to the female, trans or cis, on how far you will let him go. It is your decision. It’s ok to say no.

Yet,  the case of Bobby Valentine² takes it a step deeper than just discarding this as simple hyper-sexualization of the female body. There is a sense of shame, and entitlement to this trans woman’s body. Men don’t pay for sex, ever. Men pay for discretion, so when Bobby Valentino hit up a transgender escort he was being on the down low, discrete, and not possibly because she was trans. Just possibly because he didn’t want his business on the streets, he has a girlfriend somewhere, as his tweets about his encounter revealed that he doesn’t seem to care who knows he had sex with a trans woman. All somewhat positive points in that regard, but what he did do was refuse to pay the escort he had hired, after having his services. Of course, a professional sex worker would have received payment up front regardless of gender, but this does raise the question of why some men feel that because an escort is transgender they don’t have to pay, or for the girl who isn’t a sex worker, he may feel entitled to have, as if he is doing her a favor.

Bobby Valentino has turned off his comments on social media and says he won’t let anyone steal his joy after he was allegedly outed by the sex worker. Over the weekend, a video surfaced online which allegedly shows the R&B singer quickly grabbing his clothes and running out of a hotel room after he refused to pay for “services” rendered.

Our trans sister, whom we will not reveal her name here to protect her identity, because trans women of color are victims of murder at an epidemic rate, reported that she did not mind putting Valentino on blast because it was her bank account she respected. Bobby ran off so fast that he had left his car keys, which the victim yelled at him that he would not be getting back until he pay the money owed, and to call  about the price.

Bobby wrote, “Say what u want! #imhappy😬people have so much hate in em that they wanna steal someone else joy.. can’t steal mine!😬”

While it’s debatable any joy was stolen from him, he definitely stole promised funds to a sex worker after having his, ‘joy’ with her. The mainstream tabloid media that has been reporting this weekend news, seems only infatuated with the fact the sex worker was transgender, not at all with the character and actions of Valentino.

For most transgender women this isn’t a new revelation. The media, our communities and churches, and even some of the men who claim to desire us often have such little respect or none at all for the bodies of transgender women. It’s a problem seen year after year when we read the names during our International Transgender Day of Remembrance. We see it in the countless attempts to legislate our bodies, and bathroom usage. It’s the in your face bigotry felt thru laws like The Freedom of Religion Acts, that give individual business a free reign to discriminate according to their taste and call it religious beliefs. It’s why nearly any transgender woman arrested and placed in a male prison is almost guaranteed to be raped, and violated, yet are continued to be placed with males. It brings to mind old rape defenses from the 1950’s, ‘she wore a red dress, she must have wanted it,’ or better yet, ‘she changed her gender so therefore she must’ve wanted it.’ A second assault on the victim.

It’s the constant message that our bodies are less valuable, that it doesn’t’ matter as much that trans women of color are being killed at an alarming rate, in the eyes of the Black Lives Matter movement. We battle TERFs for inclusion as women in women areas, and have sex offender Republican legislators, regulate our bathroom usage and create fear about our bodies to cover their indiscretions. The message the media has sent over the weekend, laughs at the revelation of Bobby Valentino’s sexual encounter with a trans woman, making comedy tabloid as the focus of the story. There is no debate or concern of the violation of the agreement broken by a wealthy high-profile celebrity and near homeless Atlanta sex worker. There is something deeper than just hypersexualization, and scandal here. It is shame, and a disregard for the safety of a trans woman’s body and it’s another example of how hip-hop, tabloid media continues to be an accessory to the murders of transgender women of color year after year.

Earlier Sunday afternoon, the victim released a  live video. She reports  receiving a lot of negative feed back for outing him. Revealing that the victim continues to be criminalized and further violated. Even throughout social media, gay men even joined in accusing her of using her “transness” to out a man, as if outing was the only issue at hand here, and implying that he may not have known she was trans. This is a constant message by cis men, gay and straight, that implies no one knowingly would be with a trans woman. The struggle for black trans women, even among black lgb, recalls to mind a line from The Color Purple; a black woman’s life is from can’t do to don’t.

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  1. My T: Slang for revealing that you are trans, or it being revealed. usage They got my T. (meaning they figured that I’m transgender).
  2. Bobby Wilson better known by his stage name Bobby V is an American singer, songwriter and actor. He has charted three No. 1 albums on Billboard’s U.S. Top R&B Chart since 2006. V’s first major single, “Slow Down”
  3.  International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which occurs annually on November 20, is a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community.
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