My girlfriend and I get a lot of stares.
As I mentioned before, she’s transsexual. Male-to-female, currently right in the middle of her transition. She hasn’t gone full-time yet, so most of the time she still presents as male, but she no longer really passes for one even if she tries. At best, she looks completely androgynous. When she’s in “guy” mode, they stare at us because they can’t figure out which gender she is.
When she’s in girl mode, they stare at us because (they think) we’re lesbians, and apparently that’s fascinating.
To some extent, I suppose I can partially understand the fascination (from the general public, not specifically from straight males, who like to make a point of being creepy). It’s not something you see everyday, around here. There are very, very few openly queer couples running around on campus, and even less among the general public. What few there are generally keep their public displays of affection toned down. The gf and I don’t bother. We don’t care who sees us. As a result, we are starting to become somewhat infamous around campus. We are not what people expect to encounter in their day-to-day activities, so of course they are a little shocked to run into us. Hopefully that will fade with time, as people become more accepting of queer couples, and more used to seeing them around.
It’s kind of odd, being perceived as either being in a straight relationship, or a lesbian one, depending on how my girlfriend is dressed and how well the people around us know her. Especially since I have fought against being labeled a lesbian for years, and now I would prefer to be seen as a lesbian, since that is closer to the truth. In this circumstance, I don’t mind it because there is a legitimate reason for other people to think that, rather than an assumption that just because I don’t show interest in guys, I must be interested in girls. There is still a level of inevitable invisibility when it comes to my true orientation, much the same as bisexuals face–whenever they are with someone of the same sex, they are assumed to be gay, and whenever they are with someone of the opposite sex, they are assumed to be straight. My close friends know that I’m really asexual; why should I care what strangers think? The only thing that really bothers me is the way my family will react, once I tell them. Only my sister knows I’m in a relationship right now, and I haven’t told her anything more than that. In the past, she has been vehemently anti-trans, and so have my parents. I expect them to react badly when they find out, so for now anyway, I’m not about to tell them.
What’s really interesting (albeit stupid), is the way that people who knew my girlfriend (I’m getting rather tired of saying that every time, so I’ll nickname her Cupcake) before she started transitioning have reacted to the fact that she is currently dating a girl. A lot of people seem to make a false connection between relational gender preference and personal gender identity, as evidenced by the fact that earlier this week, Cupcake sent me an instant message conversation in which someone who knew her before was confused because she said she had a girlfriend, thinking that she must have “changed her mind” about transitioning, because having a girlfriend is apparently “more of a guy thing.” Her parents have both seemed to see my presence in her life as a good sign, as if somehow (just by being there) I would straighten her out (to make a bad pun), make her normal. Little do they realize that if anything, I am going to help her become a woman, not a man. Penis or no, this is by no means a heterosexual relationship, and I am not at all inclined to try to make it so.
One of the main reasons we can understand each other so well is because we are both queer. Neither one of us is entirely comfortable with straight people, especially straight (and, I should add, cisgendered) men. They tend to be pushy, in my experience, way past the boundaries of what is acceptable. By and large, they can’t understand queer issues because it is so far outside the scope of their own experience, and it is exhausting to try to deal with that, especially when trying to (somewhat blindly, for me) navigate the seas of sexual interaction, where it is absolutely vital to deal with issues like asexuality and body dysphoria.
Interestingly, these two issues have had kind of the same effect on our sex lives–that is, a dampening effect. There is a level of distance between what the body wants, and what the mind does. We have both gone through the awkwardness of being with someone who doesn’t understand that, and have become used to staying silent when whatever’s going on becomes uncomfortable for us. We both have to make a conscious effort to unlearn that self-sacrificing behavior. And, her hormone therapy has caused her to lose much of her sex drive, so although she’s not asexual, she doesn’t see sex as something absolutely necessary. Most importantly, she talks to me about everything, and tries to work something out with me. There is a level of understanding between us that I haven’t experienced in previous relationships, and hopefully that will carry us through whatever potential rough times lie ahead of us.
It’s new to me, to become attached to someone so fast, to spend so much time together and not get tired of one another. People already joke about the two of us being married. Although marriage itself has never been one of my goals for relationships, if things continue to go well between us, I could actually see myself spending my life with this person. I suppose it’s a little early to say that, but I think there is some serious long-term potential here. I can’t say what will happen in the future, but my feeling towards her now is that I want to stand by her through whatever trials she will inevitably face. No matter what outsiders may think of us, I want to stay with her.