the philosophactivist

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Genderqueer Love

So maybe you're attracted to people outside of the gender binary. Maybe you're wondering how you go about loving a person who categorizes themself as genderqueer, gender non-conforming, transgender, transmasculine or transfeminine, agender, androgynous, bigendered, or perhaps no category at all. I wish it was as easy as just loving the person for who they are ...I really do. But I truly believe that the way that we have been conditioned in this society really informs our relationships and our interactions within romantic relationships, especially. When a lesbian wants to date a transman, many times there are expectations for the behavior of that transman. I have heard many times from transmen that they don't want to be seen as a butch lesbian or a stud by their lesbian or queer women partners. They are men. But many haven't been socialized as men all their lives, yet their habits are what does one do with that? It's difficult to navigate. All I ask for from my partner is that they acknowledge how I see myself and check their expectations for me. I haven't been socialized as a man, so much of our interactions will not be the same as you and your past boyfriend. I identified as a lesbian for 10 years so, in some ways I have been socialized as a lesbian. I understand that scene, even though I fit like a round peg in a square hole there now. I've spent some time thinking, fretting, and overanalyzing about this...

In some past relationships I didn't even bring the genderqueer thing up. I was processing it myself and whatever I mentioned was just shrugged off so as with most of my life I just kept a lot of things to myself. Or maybe I was just expecting my exes to "accept me for who I am"...that old queer motto. Because I was the "same" as I ever was. know...that's really not true. As I've come to accept my identity and discovered more about myself through all those hidden facets of Me-ness that I had buried under some feigned sense of normalcy (and once queer- queeritude), I've come to realize that I have changed quite a bit. I'm not really sure that my exes could have handled who I am today...then. I couldn't.

All in all, I guess I'm tired of people using that "but you're the same person" line. I feel like it allows people not to acknowledge who you are becoming. It allows people to stay comfortable with who you were and never fully process the transition you have undergone. A while back, I would have welcomed this for friends and family in true protective fashion. I would have shielded them from my queerness and would have worried about just being accepted. I would have taken whatever bone anyone would have thrown me. And I guess you might say that at times I still do when it comes to pronouns. I realize that I'm living in this no-man's land and it's really hard to wrap your head around something you haven't seen. So I allow for the "ma'ams" and the "young ladies" in certain contexts. It still makes me feel torn and creates this state of dissatisfaction...unrest...because that's not who I am. I know I "look" like a Miss if you look hard enough and I know that sometimes people are just trying to be nice or dont' want to make a mistake. I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with that...strangers versus people who have known you for a significant amount of time versus people who met you at this particular point in your gender expression.

So I'm coming to terms with how to deal with that...and this genderqueer love. Do we genderqueers date those in the LGB who fetishize us? Are we relegated only to each other? Do we get into relationships full of teaching moments, false hopes, and expectations? Is there queer relationship counseling including therapy on gender expression? Sigh. Just like the majority of queers- I want to be seen for who I am now, not who partners wish I was...or remember me as...or wrongly think I am because so and so who is masculine of center or FTM is that way.

Hi, I'm Toi...have we met?

I think that what it comes down to is actually talking about these things up front, which is hard to do. Gender can be fluid just like sexuality. Maybe it's important to have check-ins periodically (what? did I just say that. Is this a performance evaluation?). Not to "keep track" but to stay in touch with who both are becoming. My ideal partner shares this struggle with me and is cognizant of the way I decide to move through certain spaces. Damn, that's a hard gig and it doesn't pay much. But I am willing to do it for them, too. I realize it's really difficult to be that person on the other end. How does the relationship not become about the transition or the trials and tribulations of one person's experience over another. How can both involved learn to respect and appreciate each other and free themselves of all these expectations and falsitudes? We're up against a lot, aren't we? From internalized homophobia, the way we may be treated by  society, evolving identity, and then after all this we're expected to be decent partners. Why aren't there more than a handful of books on this? And don't say that the books from straight or lesbian or gay relationships applies...the dynamics are really, really different, in my opinion. More on this later...still processing solutions...

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