It’s not about lesbians “only being attracted to other women with vaginas”. It never has been.
In the first place, let’s be clear: we are talking about some lesbians, specifically cis lesbians who are not open to dating trans lesbians.
The fact that we can’t have this conversation without agreeing to frame the lesbian identity in a way that excludes trans women and some cis women and trying to change that framing get us accused of “policing the lesbian identity” is one of the major red flags that no one who talks about this is actually interested in a conversation.
And that goes for you, too. I’m tempted to say that if you would like a sincere answer, you should come back with a sincere question.
But the fact is that it’s more valuable to publicly push back against this disingenuous approach than it would be to try to reach you personally, so I’m going to forge ahead.
As I said, it’s not about those cis lesbians “only being attracted to other women with vaginas”.
Because some trans women have vaginas.
So it’s “I’m only attracted to certain kinds of women with certain kinds of vaginas.”
And even then, it’s not about that.
Follow the chain of “certains” long enough, and what it comes down to is the assertion “I am attracted to cis women, not to trans women.”
"Vaginas" is the explanation for this phenomenon. Radical feminist lesbians would normally bristle at the idea that being attracted to a woman means being attracted to vaginas because reducing women to their parts is what patriarchy wants us to do. But as I said: once trans women are involved, everything goes out the window.
Now, how is “I am attracted to cis women, not to trans women” similar* to people who claim to only be attracted to certain races?
It relies on the idea that all members of a group are visually identifiable by a single feature or set of features, that all members of a group are visually identical in some way.
When trans women aren’t on the horizon, radical feminists love to say “There’s no one way that women look. There’s no one way that women act. There’s no one way to be a woman.”
They’re talking about cis women, obviously. So let’s spell it out: there’s no one way that cis women look. There’s no one way that cis women act. There’s no one way to be a cis women.
And if that’s true, there’s no one thing for a cis lesbian to be attracted to in cis women. And no one thing for a cis lesbian to be unattracted to in trans women.
Let’s be honest: if cis people really could automagically tell who is trans and not be attracted to them, this wouldn’t be an issue. They wouldn’t be trying to keep us out of queer dating spaces, causing trans panic rape scares whenever we talk about being lesbians or dating lesbians, et cetera.
The assertion “I’m not attracted to trans people” is made to explain their violent reactions over the fear that they will find themselves attracted to a person and then learn that she is trans.
Now, you’ll probably circle back to vaginas and say that they’re the feature that cis women have that cis lesbians are attracted to. But what I said about not one way to be a woman applies to vaginas, too. Not all vaginas look the same. Not all vaginas act the same. Not all vaginas react the same.
Everything that gets thrown out as a characteristic of “real vaginas” (cis women’s vaginas/vulvas) applies to every cis woman’s vagina and vulva. Not every vagina successfully self-lubricates or has a lot of elasticity. Not every vagina is a passageway to a uterus or a fertile womb. Not every vagina—even on a dyadic cis body—is there without the work of surgical reconstruction.
Staking these things out as the qualities that trans-excluding cis lesbians are attracted to in women is 1) gross and reductive in a classically misogynistic way and 2) simply not true.
Any way you shake it, any way you slice it, “I’m not attracted to trans women” is based on the idea that cis women are ONE way and trans women are ONE way.
It is therefore an idea that is rooted in prejudice and preconceived notions.
Countdown to someone saying that I’m demanding [cis] lesbians must have sex with trans women in 3… 2… but again, the idea that personal preferences, personal attraction, and personal sexual activity do NOT occur in a vacuum but can come from oppressive systems and lead back to oppressive system is an idea that gets discussed every day, including by radical feminists, so it’s really disingenuous to act like it’s a brand new idea when trans women are involved.
You can date who you want. You can have sex with who you want. You can choose not to date or have sex with whoever you want. You don’t ever have to be aware of how your personal preferences interact with oppressive structures. No one can make you do this, much less change them.
What trans women want is an end to the policing of the lesbian identity and lesbian spaces by people who think their personal preferences should define the identity for all.
Here’s my ideal world:
trans lesbians: I’m a lesbian.
cis lesbians: I’m a lesbian.
Here’s where we are now.
trans lesbians: I’m a lesbian.
cis lesbians: HOW DARE YOU TRY TO STUFF YOUR COCK DOWN MY THROAT!
The big change I’m looking for is for that to not happen any more.
*You said “the same thing as”, which is setting the bar pretty high… something I’m sure you did on purpose. A stab wound is not the same thing as a bullet wound, but they’re both wounds. No matter how concerned you may be with bullet wounds, you wouldn’t stand outside the emergency room trying to stop people with stab wounds from coming in because they’re “not the same thing as” bullet wounds.