So, dating, having a family, etc. Damn. It is a minefield for trans-folk. I can only talk about my experience, not f2m or non-binary (I'll touch on that below). But I'll fill yas in on my take of dating and what I think my options are.
And also rant about ill-educated idiots.
Maybe I should start with the easier stuff. I do not intend to have children by myself. Even with two it is way hard work. Props to those doing it, and even larger ones doing it solo - you really do have my total admiration. But, I guess that that means I need to date. Ugh. I like my own space. But on the other side I do like company. To be able to chat (and get some of the fuzz out of my head). To play games, or watch a movie. Snuggling and hanging out. I like that. And yes, rent will become way easier to manage. But... my own space. I am watching this, here and now. I don't have to listen to dodgy music (or Dodgy). I don't have to watch Saturday night TV (Dr Who the obvious exception). I can go to bed and read, undisturbed. There are swings and roundabouts. But yes, I like living with someone. It is nice. There are compromises but they are compromises worth making. I've done it. I want it again.
I have said before that the main reason for an excellent relationship coming to an end was my need to transition. That I lost such a thing meant that not transitioning would lead to a very lonely life for me. At the same time, the act of transitioning makes dating a bit of a (creepy) minefield. I decided that whilst getting myself on track I would not date.
Easy enough actually when gender dysphoria means that you hate your body and have no intention of letting anyone else near it. And for those that know me - yes, this is something that happened suddenly, I was not faking in my youth! I used to be more than comfortable around people in an intimate way. But how many pix are around of me from my teenage years? How often do I turn up to sport facilities already dressed for the sport? How long ago did a former lifeguard stop swimming all together? Around, yes, girls my inhibitions melted. Over time that faded. I tried to pinpoint why in a gender psych evaluation just this week and the truth is I have no idea. I suspect that the more I accepted myself as trans*, the older I got and reached a point where starting hormones would not help, the stronger the body dysphoria became and that permeated my subconscious. To the point that intimacy was just weird and creepy and gross.
So yes, I decided against dating until I presented how I want to present. Until I show who I actually am - and peole meet who I actually am. Course, once you are there, erm, well... where do you go? And I have a long way to go but I am happier and can more readily accept myself , so why not take those baby steps into the dating game.
Trans* folk have this weird thing - where the hell do we fit into the dating society??? See, gender is not sexuality so if you like girls before transition, then you do afterwards. Same with boys. So technically if you were gay, well, now you are straight. And vice versa. And this clearly is not understood by many folks including those within the trans* community.
Caitlyn Jenner did an interview on the Ellen Show a little while back where she said that she did not support gay marriage. Right, here's the thing. If you were truly a woman all this time, then you were in one. Dumb ass. If you now want to be perceived as a woman and date a woman, you are a lesbian. Sorry. You are. You do not get to pick and choose what aspects of being trans* you live by. You are a damn role model, get informed and act like one you ignorant idiot.
This stupidity was compounded by Independent writer Katie Glover, who is trans* herself and also seems to not get what being trans* entails. The gist of her article is that Ellen was surprised that Jenner is against gay marriage. This is blamed on Ellen not understanding that gender and sexuality are different. Wait, what??? I take Ellen to be very well informed (by listening to her talk) - and know Jenner to not have a clue. No, I am pretty sure Ellen was surprised because she realises what I state above - Jenner was effectively in a lesbian relationship. And to top it, I am also sure that she was surprised that an at-risk community member would turn their backs on community allies. Note - I am not saying that straight and cis-folk are not allies, but LGBT organisations do push trans* issues in many cases. Not always, but often. It is far from a perfect relationship, but I am happy for it.
Of course, this writer is just trying to make a voice for herself. Certainly her article on the interview is written to push her own agenda - that the T should be separated from LGBT. I understand the argument, but I think we are too small a community to be so proud as to not take all the help we have - even though it does muddy understanding somewhat. This is my view. The thing here is that by turning this into a political message, the main message is WRONG and actually promotes more misunderstanding of the trans* community. This is worse as it is in a broadsheet. It will be read by thoughtful folk looking to increase their understanding of us.
I know it is not the case, but if you are in a minority then you should know your facts and make sure you are not damaging our community. You want to remove the T from LGBT to stop people misunderstanding trans-people, try getting your damn facts straight first.
Jerks. Trans* folk are just as damaging to our cause. I will not blame people outside of my community for all the misinformation out there.
Rant over. Back to the main point.
Right, yes. If you are trans-female and like women, you are gay. If you are a trans-man and like women, you're damn straight. We are our gender and all that entails. But it is weird to think this way, for me at least. You've always been trans*, always been female / male. But now you're a lesbian / gay too, wow. It takes getting used to I guess - for me anyways. I dunno. I guess that I sort of feel a bit like a faker going into women's bathrooms still, so going to lesbian only events seems like even more of invasion of a sacred space. Certainly I have been invited to some - other people find it easier than me I guess! It is just not something you think about. You spend so long looking into hormones and surgery that day-to-day things slip by.
Much easier to be bisexual in this regard. Or pansexual. Or asexual. I am not saying that those are easier generally in life, but it does make this bit of transition easier - one less thing to get used to.
There are some reports of sexual preference changing as you start hormones, but I do wonder if that is not something slightly different. It is true that when you transition to female, guys treat you differently. Not the jerks that shout at you, the nice ones. You do get flirted with. It is easy to like that! It is fun. It is so nice that someone is taking interest. I also think that being treated that way feels very feminine. Sure, this falls back onto stereotypes of what it is to be female (straight with guys falling at your feet). But give trans-women some wiggle room on this please, we have a lot to get used to!!! We are only human. Heads can be turned by the offer of a G&T.
Another thing I do think is that maybe, if you have struggled for so long with gender, maybe some folk just have not taken time to really think about what gender they are attracted to. You spend your life trying to fit into a 'social norm' so that no one notices that you are actually trans*, and sexual preference may just slip into that subconsciously.
Or it may just be a hormone thing. I dunno, this seems less likely given that there are LGB folks around. Who knows?
Me, well, I am claiming pan-sexual status. Not because I am trying to be cool and edgy. But just because I am keeping an open mind. Men are able to turn my head a little with cute flirtations. It is women that make my head do a 180 and walk into things. Yes, sometimes I am just looking at the outfit or hair not always. I am attracted to women but I can be attracted to males socially. And who knows, maybe more. So, this is not bi-sexuality, Like I say, I'm keeping an open mind. At the same time, I'm in no rush so I can be choosy. Make sure it is the person I am attracted to. Ergo, pan-sexual.
So, a little side note. If you are gender-queer, gender-neutral, non-binary, then heck. Fitting into most 'standard' sexual preference categories needs a binary-gender. I find it difficult to fathom and I know that I am not alone, having spoke to some non-binary folk and having had them tell me the same thing. We are set up for gender binaries in society and it has permeated our language. I may be trans*, but I am firmly planted in the gender binary. I have spent my life of crossing from one to another. I understand the gender dysphoria but I have a very clear end point in terms of society. Yer, sexual preference is just one of the many small difficulties for those who are gender-variant and I am trying to learn more.
So, I may be ready to date. And I am open minded. But. Where do I go to meet folk? Right, this may seem obvious - the normal places. However, I am older now. I don't club, gig or generally drunken pub as much as I used to. Let's be honest, in these times a lot of people date online. And for a trans* person, eeeps. So, I have been told by a family member that lesbian websites have a very small pool, even in Manchester. Course, I am not limiting myself to that, so what else is there. Well, if I go on a 'standard' dating website - do I out myself? What does this do? Well, it marks me out. I am suddenly a thing - or at least there is suddenly a thing. It does change the dynamic. Folk I could just chat to and see what happens are gone. You'll have the curious. The chasers. The fetishists. Maybe there will be some folk left that are just normal, but from what I hear it is unlikely. So then there is the choice to not out myself. But if you do get on with folk, when do you tell them? Even though you are not lying, you can easily be seen as deceitful - although those jerks are free to head off! Why the hell should I not be open? Why should I hide who I am? It is not simple. (Note that I have not included trans* dating sites - NO. Creepy, creepy places.)
I do have a social life at the moment, more than in years. I like the idea that I can just meet someone in a very organic way. Sure, it is hard, but we have survived doing that as a species for millennia so I have hope. Then I can just go with the flow and deal with the 'outing' issues later on (or not, I have a ways to go to pass unnoticed). Course, this means just sitting around and waiting in some ways - hoping.
Yer, so it is a mine field, but it is also pretty exciting too. To be 'back-in-play'. It will be challenging but what worth doing isn't?