Monday, February 24, 2014

He is a man. I am a woman. Together we are queer.

I just want to report that this weekend, A. and I went to a lesbian event together. I should said A., I and his beard attended a woman's event. I checked with the organizer and everyone was cool. It was a
HRC logo (I'm borrowing)
fundraiser as well. (Human Rights Campaign). Did people give us you know, the *look*?  A little. But I think they were more concerned about my woefully out-of-fashioned jeans (which I still rocked) than anything. Actually, I don't think anyone gave us funny looks because of who we were. I felt my usual social awkwardness (nothing to do with our status and noted that some of the women ignored me, but I'm pretty sure they were looking for dates or maybe I was just boring. In other words, it was no big deal. And I bet if someone had taken a poll, no one really would have cared that there were men there (including at least one transman). He's part of our community now. Cool. That's the thing: I never wanted to suggest that A. is still a woman. I just am suggesting that there's a special case for transmen who are with women who identify as queer. If a transguy is straight and with a heterosexual woman, he probably won't want to attend lesbian events. But finding a home somewhere in the queer community is really important to me—and to him. So thank you women and thank you HRC.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How can you be a lesbian and be with a man?!

Of all the comments made here and at John Aravosis' post (I read all on my blog because I actually have to pre-approve them before they're posted but I did not read all AMERICAblog because they were giving me intestinal distress) one keeps coming back to me: 

It was just a little snippet at the end of a comment
"It makes me wonder. The author, in not realizing why a womens-only space wouldn't accept a trans man (because they view him as an equal male?) and also as still ID-ing as a lesbian, seems to not take the male-ness of her spouse as seriously as the sponsors of the dance do."  (bold added by me.)
 When A. and I first started telling folks about his transition, they always asked: does that mean you're still a lesbian? Most of the time I'd laugh it off and joke well, I'm kind of a failed lesbian: I'm so bad at it that I'm with a man. Get it? Yuck Yuck. 

Then it started to be less funny. Because I started asking myself the same questions. And the answers were not readily apparent. In fact, I'm still in that process. They demand digging down to my very core with deep questions, like: what am I? Who am I? What am I attracted to? Who am I attracted to? What is love? What does it mean that this person who I thought was a woman ( albeit a very masculine one) and had a female body, now is identifying as a male and has a male body. 
Beautiful image courtesy of Leland Francisco

When we first entered this, I identified as bisexual. Because I have had attractions to both men and women. But when I unpacked that – looked at it little deeper – the truth is, I haven't had a relationship with a man since college. And even then, it was not so great.

Part of me wants to stop writing right now because I'm feeling vulnerable. But I also feel like it's important to say this stuff so I'm going to go for full exposure.  Besides, I've written about it before. 

The first time I kissed a woman (in college) changed everything.  I got to experience that aha moment of pure joy and revelation. I suddenly understood the whole hullabaloo about sex. Oh…. I get it now!  lightbulb moment. I'm sure many people can relate.  Sometimes I shudder to think about  people who've never gotten to experience that.

 But does this mean I am a six on the Kinsey scale? No. But I'm probably a 4.5 to 5. 

And guess what? I didn't CHOOSE my orientation any more than you did, or any more and A chose his gender. I don't want to get into a discussion about how we came to be our gender and sexual orientation. But I can tell you that I did not consciously set out one day to become attracted to women. I just was. I just am. And A. did one day set out to become a man. He just was. He just is.

So he is respecting my sexual orientation and I am respecting his gender. Telling me that I should no longer identify as who I am is just as bad as telling him he no longer should identify us who he is.

I'm not sure why this is so complicated.

Now as for us,  we are dealing with our own issues with sexuality and attraction on our own terms.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gendercops beware: you've been infiltrated

Many  people who read my post here, at helen boyd's post here and here, and John Aravosis' post here (HUGE thanks to these two by the way) seemed to read something like this: OMG a dude wants to break into our women's space! And he's a not just a dude. He's a straight dude who has ton's of places where he can hang with his girl.

Art courtesy of Samir Luther
Be grateful he's transitioned and move the fuck on. He's not a lesbian anymore. Get out of our women's only space and stop being so damned selfish and ruining it for all of us who need that space. 

Um, I'm paraphrasing and in some cases exaggerating, but that was the sentiment. 

So what about that response bugs me?

Beyond the obvious (calling me selfish, etc.) was the more subtle. When I wrote that blog post, I was trying to express how I, the lesbian PARTNER of a trans guy, was feeling about being cut off from my community. It hurt. It hurt way worse than I could ever have imagined.

But most folks addressed the issue as if my transman was the one banging on the door. Don't get me wrong: he was upset that a community he's been a part of and supported for decades simply gave him the boot. (Not to mention that while it was NOT a PFLAG even, it was raising money for that organization). But I was trying to explain how being a partner of someone who has transitioned is very tricky. In some ways, his sudden visibility means that part of me is suddenly invisible (my gay part) He's well-aware of this tradeoff. And I'm not upset with him. It's hard for me but I absolutely want him to be authentic. He's a much better person for it. It's no one's fault. It's the way it is. 

But it's absurd to say he's no longer part of a community because he's suddenly visible.

Which leads me to the second point: he did not suddenly become a man. He simply chose to honor who he's always been and bravely transition medically so that his insides and his outsides match.  A. has ALWAYS been a man. Since birth. He's just always been stuck in the wrong body. (I'm not speaking for all transgendered people. God knows, I'm not expert. I just know our experience.) Which means, you know what? That, he, a MAN has been attending lesbian events for YEARS. He just didn't have a male appearance back them. So he already infiltrated. 

But it was cool, right? Because he looked like a woman. And you know what? I know for certain he wasn't and isn't the only one. I didn't go to the dance, but I'd put all my money on the fact that there were a few female-appearing folks there who really were men.

What I'm saying is that these spaces that proclaim to be for women only have been one big illusion.

Splitting hairs, am I?

Think about it. 

Now that I understand gender a lot better than I did even a year ago. I get it. Just because you look like you're a woman, doesn't mean you are. Just because you look like a man doesn't mean you are either. In fact, many people do not fall on this binary scale of gender. Genderqueer, asexual... etc. Even Facebook gets that. So this idea that you can throw a single-sex event is kind of antiquated. 

But let's say you're cool with people simply identifying as male or female and choosing it for themselves. Fine. How the hell are you going to enforce it?

Are you going to tell that super butch looking person who is packing but appears to have breasts somewhere under that binding and plaid button-down and speaks in a lowish voice that she (or is it he?) is not welcome? What about that woman who has visible beard stubble, an Adam's apple and sounds little like Johnny Cash? Are you going to tell her she's not welcome?And hell, what do you do with that person who walks into the door and looks, well like both genders... or neither one? 

To those who tell us that A. and I are now a straight couple and we have plenty of places to go where we're welcomed, I'm tempted to give the big fat middle finger. But I'm trying to have a rational conversation here (even if it's just one way). So I'll say this. We are NOT a straight couple. That's the whole point! I'm basically a lesbian and my partner is a transman who had found a home in the lesbian world for many years. Do you really think that we'd be at home in a straight world where the price of admission would be to stay in the closet about who we really were, lest we offend someone, or godforbid, make someone feel uncomfortable? Or worse? Think this through, people: let's go with it. A and I go to a dance. It's straight. We dance. We have a great time. We meet lots of wonderful straight couples. We make friends. Then in conversation I slip and call A. "she" because it happens. They figure it out. And maybe they're not such nice people. Maybe they're offended that we basically deceived them. Maybe they just don't like queers. Maybe they decide to beat the shit out of A. to prove a point. Maybe.Yeah, we'd feel so welcome at that place. Thanks lesbians. 

When you tell us to stay out of your community, you're actually telling us: go back into the closet and please for goddsake, stop making us feel so uncomfortable. Because that was the reason given to us for staying away: seeing a person who looked like a woman dancing with a person who looked like a man would make women feel uncomfortable. Because obviously that's a really good reason for exclusion. We all know that we should never offend.

Yeah, I'm pissed. Because I thought of all the people I know, lesbians, who have been oppressed, mistaken for straight and dealt with narrow-minded shit their whole likes —at least they'd understand what it's like to be excluded, to be shunned, to be told they're something that they're not, to be excluded. Many do, but many don't. 

One person who I considered to be an expert on the topic (well more than one) told me that hey, this wasn't a lesbian-only dance. This was a woman-only space and that straight women were welcome. And even *they* couldn't bring their partners. To that I say bullshit. Two things: if a straight woman is attending an all-woman's dance on Valentine's day, she either isn't really straight or doesn't have a date. A straight woman who is dating a straight man really does have many places she can attend while being completely authentically herself. So she's choosing to hang out in a mostly-lesbian environment. Good for her. I'm happy for her. But that doesn't mean that a LESBIAN who is dating a MAN who used to identify as LESBIAN has those same options. 

Get real. 

And to those people who say, hey, cool your partner is passing and is a man and go celebrate at a straight bar of your choosing, I also say, what about me? There I said it. What about me? I'm not straight.

So yeah, I'm not going to drop this.

I'm fine if you disagree with me. But I ask you to do so intelligently. I.E. calling me selfish and other names is not intelligent. Give me a good argument. 

For those who tell me there are plenty of openly gay places that will welcome you, I say THANK YOU. This isn't about us, personally, having a place to go. I'm blessed to have amazing friends and family (queer, straight, etc.) who love us and have accepted these changes gracefully. I have attended gay spaces where we've been completely welcomed. 

So this really isn't about me personally wanting to find a space. But it is about wanting people to think a little more deeply about this issue. What's female? What's male? What's inclusive.

Bottom line, hang out with whomever you want. That's the beauty of a free society. But when you open your doors to the public, when you raise money for an inclusive organization, it's just not cool any more.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Getting dumped on Valentine's Day

UPDATE: It's been quite an emotional roller coaster. I want to make a clarification: This is a private group of women holding a fundraiser. It is NOT a PFLAG group. PFLAG, itself is trans-inclusive and trans-friendly. In addition, trans-women are welcomed at the dance. (Not sure about people who don't identify as either binary but that's a different issue.)

I was really trying to express how I felt as a partner who has lost this part of her community. It just hurts.

I understand that we no longer belong as a couple in a women's-only space. In the meantime, if this helped spur a little more discussion, I'm glad.

I love my partner fiercely. He's very brave and loving human being and I'm lucky to have him by my side.

Happy Valentine's Day.


A, who is now passing with a beard these days, told me yesterday, hey that Valentine's day dance we're planning on going to Saturday? Well, those words we've been dreading are right there on the flyer: “Women only.” I kind of knew we’d eventually hit the lesbian-only/women-only etc. wall. Because now we’re not two women together. We’re one cisgender female (meaning woman-born woman) lesbian and one transgender male. Actually, we’d hit the women-only thing before, but it was a bit different. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

So A emailed them, you know, just to be cool. 

Hey, I understand wanting single-gendered spaces. I have nothing against them. Women’s space is awesome. Sometimes you just want to be in a place where you don’t have to deal with men. In fact, I was often the first person who gave the evil eye to the straight couple flaunting their heterosexuality at a gay bar. (Now I see things differently but hindsight’s like that).

And men-only spaces? Right on. Men should have places where they don’t have to deal with females. As long as they’re not excluding us in board rooms or business, I’m good. Want to get your man-on, dance around naked and bang on drums? More power to you, brothers.

Of course, there is no neat category for folks who were born with Type-XX parts and a Type-XY brain (or vice-versa).

So A wrote a super polite email (see below) saying hey, he’s just transitioned and now appears to be the man he’s always been inside. But he'd like to go with his girlfriend, who, by the way, is still a lesbian (if it’s confusing for you think about how confusing it is for me). So would it be cool if he showed up with his lover for the Valentine’s Day dance?

The response in a word?


You’re not welcome. Don’t come.

But no worries because there are lots of places where you can go.  

It felt a lot like we were being dumped and told, hey, babe, you’ll be fine. There are plenty of other fish out there.  

Really? Because while we can pass for a straight couple, we really aren’t that. I’m not so sure how many places a transgender dude and a lesbian could feel safe, at the least and like they’re at home with their community, at best. But that's not even the point. 

In retrospect, yeah, we probably shouldn’t have asked. Maybe we should have just shown up. Did I mention that this women-only dance is a benefit for PFLAG, which used to stand for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays but now, according to their mission statement, also includes bisexuals and people who are transgender. (Perhaps they've forgotten about the T).  But I digress. I don’t like to go to parties where I’m not welcomed. I was going so I could to be with my friends .
I didn’t anticipate how that rejection would make me feel. It hurt. It hurt me. It hurt the man I love. Happy Valentine's Day. Thanks PFLAG. 

True, I could have gone solo. A even sweetly suggested I do so. But seriously. Would you? Would you attend an event from which your spouse was banned?

I told you there was another time we were excluded. A company had advertised an all-women’s whale-watching tour. I asked if it would be cool if A came. She told me no, it would not be cool to bring your man. I was a bit bummed. But I was OK with it. You know the difference? It wasn’t a couples-kind of event. No one was saying, hey come to a romantic event, but please leave home that other person who no longer fits in our world.

You know what it feels like?

 It feels like when I was 32 and my dad invited me but not my then live-in girlfriend to his big birthday party. It hurt. I told him I loved him and I respected where he came from but I couldn’t come if my partner wasn’t invited too. He thought about it and called me the next day. 

He told me, honey, I want you to come and your girlfriend is welcome. I love you.

I remember crying because it took so much courage for him to do that. It took strength for him to stand up for me and let the love shine through.

We were family. We worked it out. 

I don’t want to yell at these women. I'm not even mad at them. I know they’ve probably been through all the heartache I have and a lot more, feeling rejected, threatened, and  frightened, for being who they were. I grew up in a homophobic world, too. 

They said that us being there together would make women feel uncomfortable. So by being who we were, we were hurting them. It feels too familiar. How many times have we heard straight men saying they didn't want gay men in the locker room because it made them feel icky? Since when is someone's discomfort with someone different a reason for excluding them? I doubt they would feel physically threatened by A. 

But listen: I want all those women to have a safe place. I really do. They’re my sisters. And to think that our mere presence would harm them? Ouch. When your family pushes you out the door and says, sorry: we don't want you, and your mere presence sickens us, that feels pretty terrible. 

Yes, I’ll be fine. Yes, we'll be fine. We have plenty of amazing, wonderful friends of every stripe. But it still hurts.

I guess I was hoping that maybe, just maybe this family would open the doors just a little wider to let us in and celebrate together.

Not this time.

Below are the emails we exchanged with names and headers stripped out (I left the rest as is)

From: A
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 3:33:40 PM
Subject: Annual Community and PWG Fundraiser for PFLAG

Hi --- and ---,
We have enjoyed your dances and want to come this saturday with my girlfriend (lesbian) who has very gracefully accepted my recent transition (F to M). Since the caption on your mailer starts out with "For Women Only" I am wondering if I would still be welcome?

Please advise as soon as possible because we planned to up with some of our friends there but won't if my transgendered condition isn't acceptable.


From: <--->
Date: Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 7:57 PM
Subject: Re: Annual Community and PWG Fundraiser for PFLAG
To: A>

Hi --- -
Congratulations on your transition! 
Your question is a difficult one:
It's a dance for women and the people attending expect to see women dancing with women.  Whether the women are lesbian or straight or bi - they're still women.  If you identify with being a man - then you're a man.
I'm sorry if it's not the answer you were looking for - but there are so many opportunities for women and men to dance and play together. This dance is special and especially for women.
All our best,
--- and ---

From: ME
Date: Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Subject: Re: Annual Community and PWG Fundraiser for PFLAG
To: ---
Cc: A and ---

Hi – I came home to find out that we were no longer welcome in the lesbian world – at least at your dance. On the one hand I completely understand wanting a women-only space. (I'm assuming that there will be absolutely no men there at all. I'm also assuming that trans-women will be welcomed, as they are women.)

On the other hand, I'm broken-hearted. I've been in the lesbian world for 30 years and my partner has been in lesbian world for 40. We are part of this community. Or were. True, there are many chances for women and men to play together. (There are also many chances for women and women to play together.) But we-- a lesbian and a trans man really don't have many places to go and celebrate with our friends. I feel I've lost our community. 

With a broken heart,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scraping the walls of my psyche. Or not.

Hi loyal reader (or maybe readers) I never intended to take a break, but I did. For the last several months I've been busy with other things in life (caregiving, having surgery, traveling) and I found that every time I thought of catching up with the blog, I just didn't want to. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that, but it's the truth.  So I just let myself not want to. Did you need to see another post on all the hair that he is growing? Did you need to see another one talking about my identity? Did you need to see another one talking about how weird everything is? Or how normal it's becoming? Exactly. I've pretty much covered the basics. And I guess I just needed a break from processing. Am I escaping? Possibly.  I've noticed that I'm sort of actually actively avoiding thinking about the whole topic.  Or maybe it's just that I come most of the good out and the continued posts were just short of scraping the walls of my psyche. And that kind of hurts. Anyhow, I've never been a person of few words so I'm sure I will post again soon.  But I just call this a resting point.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Here hair, there hair, everywhere a hair hair

Photo by BotheredByBees
Just a quick note on hair.  I know I've written about this before but I can't help myself. But really it's about living with an adult adolescent. So remember adolescence? It's that thing that happened when your body became – you know, an adult body. Now imagine if you were living with someone who
was watching your body all the time. That must be what it's like to be A.  I mean it's totally different because watching an adolescent's body is kind of creepy, unless you happen to be a fellow adolescent.  anyhow I don't feel like going on today and frankly I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this blog but I  just wanted to say it's weird. I mean I wake up and look at his chin and there is new hair. And then I look at his chest and there's new hair. It's just bizarre to live with someone whose body is changing like it is. It's not bad. In fact most of it is good because you know – men have hair. It's just different.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Should I come out??

Photo by sonofabike via Flickr
I've been laying low on the blog a little bit. That's not because I'm not into blogging. But I sort of reached transition overload. You know? When people ask me, "Hey! Whachu been up to and my response is my partner's transition... " I know it's time to take a break. Besides, R. (now A.) is in a good place. He had his surgery, is sporting new muscles along with body hair (if T didn't make your voice change and add hair I'd be on it) and is generally happier. So it's kind of been my turn to you know, quietly freak out a little, not necessarily put on my I'm-supportive-no-matter-what-face and just be. Those of you who know me also know that I've had my own health issues. Without getting into it, I had a little scare that made me think: hmmm. I need to focus on my own bad self for awhile. So that's what's going on. And frankly, processing is tiring. Like it would be easier with scotch, except I'm not drinking now.

And notice I'm giving more details? (Yes, I'm fully aware that if someone for some reason wanted to ID me, they could).  I'm just about ready to come out and be public. And guess what? I'm thinking most people will be like, eh. Oh, that's cool but no biggie.
So should I come out? Does it matter?