I am always willing to have conversations about anything in Exploring Gender. I hope you got to read the whole article. Generally, I don’t write too many personal reflections. They tend to detract from readership, as mostly the articles are meant to be informative. But sometimes there does need to be a more humanistic side to it. Relating experiences allows others to see a reality which they may not otherwise. I was not trying to exclude anyone in the examples I provided, more trying to cut down on the amount within the listing. Having too many questions would get repetitive, and I trust my readers to know I am merely providing examples, though adding in a disclaimer would prevent any misunderstandings. There are other combinations of relationships which would exist within the trans* experience. I also do not want to insinuate that any feeling on identity is invalid. I understand the questioning of identity that comes with dating or being with a trans* person. I know that is a difficult situation. It throws everything you know about your identity on its side. And we use those labels so much within society and ourselves. How can we maneuver outside of them? We become comfortable within an identity. We find something that resonates within us, and when that is brought into question, it is a confusing experience. I know that whomever I date, I would want them to be who they are, identify as they choose. I would never ask any person I was dating to identify as straight or gay or anywhere else on the spectrum merely to reaffirm my own identity. The thing which leads to my conflict is that I—by being myself—am causing this questioning of identity, and I can do nothing about it. I can offer support. I can listen. But only an individual may come into their own identity. It is difficult not to question myself in these situations when my identity is causing such struggles. I respect immensely all of the women with whom I have had this pre-dating conversation. Several have been already close friends, and it was hard watching them to struggle through questioning. I know it is not really me myself causing any sort of pain, but it is hard not to blame myself. I know I need to become secure enough in myself that these conversations do not cause me turmoil, and that turmoil has nothing to do with any person with whom I am having that conversation. It is my own issue. I would love to hear more about your experiences or anyone else’s. I follow many trans* partner’s blogs because I want to know more about that side of the experience so I may help whoever I am with to get through that process since I know it is so different from my own. And thank you for the thought provoking response. (side note: I’m not incredibly tumblr-savvy, so I’m sorry if this was an inefficient way to respond.)
Whoo! A long (but very insightful) ask/reply. I pasted it all together for an easy read and (also long) response.
I understand that you were not trying to exclude any situation or relationship from your article. Far from that, what I was trying to do was try to paint a picture of other possible situations, such as my own.
I know that in questioning my identity (and I did. I overanalyzed it to the brink of insanity), I reaffirmed differences in synonymous things. Such as sexual orientation and love. When an average person feels sexually attracted to the opposite/same gender, usually feelings of love can follow.
But there is always that someone who comes along. Who eradicates the foundations of your perceived world, and your logic is no longer logical. You question everything. From the meaning of you to the meaning of the world to the meaning of meaning. What is what? How can I come to a conclusion that allows for all this introspection to come handy? How can I love someone who, to the average person, is perceived as female when I have always been attracted and liked men? What does that make me? Love and sexual attraction were always one and the same, right?
But wait. Love and sexual attraction aren’t the same, huh? I love my father, but that doesn’t make me incestuous. I am sexually attracted to that man, but that doesn’t mean I love him. Then, are they really the same?
I know I kept thinking, “damn you” when I was, for lack of a better term, having an identity crisis. I kept thinking, “how dare you come along and make me love you when you’re this (beautiful) complexity.” “How dare you change my world as much as you did knowing that friends and families will challenge everything that we have made together.”
It took me a while, but I realized that I was looking at it the wrong way. He broadened my mind. He made me more insightful and more keen with my emotions. He taught me that coming to a solid conclusion won’t happen, because that solid conclusion is going to be thrown away and become irrelevant when the next world-turning thing comes along in my life.
I honestly feel like I’m a MUCH better person simply by loving that man. I love his hair. His eyes. His lips. His neck. His hands. His shoulders. His legs. His smile (God…that smile). The way he makes me laugh. How I can help him feel comfortable with who he is (when it’s possible). How he looks at me. How his eyes say he loves me.
How can I give someone so amazing like that up simply because I was having a hard time coming to terms with how the world would identify me as for being with and loving him? Watching him become who he has always wanted to be bring me more joy than any socially acceptable relationship according to my identity can bring.
Any transgendered person reading this: you’re changing peoples’ lives. You’re making us better. You open our minds. Our hearts. Our eyes. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank you enough.
Please keep strong.
Cael, I hope you and I can have more insightful conversations like this. And I hope that it encourages others to come up and talk about their experiences.