“Why don’t you just be gay?”
Today, whoever decides such things has declared it #lesbianvisibilityday. Normally, I take a step back on topics like this one, but today I’m deciding to take a step forward instead. Not sure where this is gonna go; some of my thoughts on the matter are complicated.
So, I’m a lesbian.
I’m also transgender. See? Complicated already.
I mean, I don’t think it is. It makes the most sense out of anything in the world, in fact. You see, when you’re in a straight relationship, everything you do is performed under the specter of these unwritten, silently enforced, normative gender roles. Everything you do either occurs in accordance to, or in violation of, those roles.
Believing, as I did for nearly 30 years, that I was a straight guy—a soft, empathetic, somewhat ditzy, non-confrontational straight guy—put me in conflict with those roles nearly every day. The partners I attracted at that time in my life were either quite bossy, or quite passive, and in either case all found something about how I inhabited my gender that wasn’t to their liking.
On my end, all I really wanted was an equal. I didn’t want to have to take care of anyone, but nor did I want to be taken care of. I didn’t want to stoop down, or have to look up. I wanted an egalitarian relationship, but in a way that simply the words themselves couldn’t suffice to describe. There was always something missing.
And then the whole trans thing happened. I had just come out of a relationship that I put my gender exploration on the back burner for, and as soon as it went up in flames, I knew I was done wasting time on people who expected me to be a guy at all, much less any particular kind of guy.
This was around the same time I discovered non-monogamy, and my coming-outs as polyamorous and trans are highly interwoven in that regard. Shortly after I stated to myself as loudly as I could that I didn’t want to be anyone’s everything, anyone’s savior, anyone’s anything that could let them down, I fell into two wonderful relationships with women who felt the same way.
And that was much, much better. But it wasn’t until a little later that the full import of the realization hit me.
If I’m actually a girl… but I still like girls… I guess that makes me gay. Shit.
And really, that was what had been missing. Because—at least from a gendered perspective—when two women stare into each other’s eyes, it’s inherently as equals. Sure, one may be more masc and the other femme, Domme-y and subby, aggressive and passive, or whatever other gendered attributes you want to throw into the pot. But inescapable from any of that is the inherent queering of those traits by virtue of existing in a same-gender relationship. And by the same virtue, they’re free to be more nuanced, more complex, more layered and recursive than they could ever be in a heterosexual pairing.
Which spoon is the fork, indeed?
So, I consider myself a dyke. It captures elements of my gender well: for all the dysphoria I do experience, I’m really not that opposed to my masculine features, and I’ve joked many a time that I’m transitioning to a girl who’s thought really hard about becoming a boy. That same queering of dynamic I mentioned has occurred no less inside of me: free from the burden of a masculine identity I cared nothing for, all the aspects of myself that might normally be considered masculine are free to come to the fore.
And for the record, in case I haven’t made it clear: it’s okay to be both trans and queer. Believing otherwise can hold a transition way, way back: if you don’t aspire to a stereotypical, binary caricature of your target gender, there’s no shortage of folks who so lovingly suggest that you’re merely confused, and you’ll come out before long as “merely gay.”
Well, here I am.