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Back You are here: Home Sex, Gender & Sexuality Diversity Queer The challenges of genderqueer love

The challenges of genderqueer love

GenderqueerLoveDo genderqueers date those in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community who fetishize us? Are we relegated only to each other when it comes to romantic or sexual relationships? Toi S. ponders the difficulties of relating to those people who are outside the gender binary.

14 August 2011

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 trans man, many times there are expectations for the behavior of that trans man. I have heard many times from trans men 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 similar ... so 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. But...you 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 don’t 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 apply ... the dynamics are really, really different, in my opinion.

I plan to write more on this later as I process solutions, but am interested in others’ thoughts.

Toi S. is from Austin, Texas. They are best described as a multi-racial, multi-lingual, genderqueer philosophactivist, health advocate, queer and civil rights activist, grassroots organizer and “peacemonger”/peace activist. Toi is also an anti-oppression facilitator for medical and social service professionals, a womanist, a reluctant academic and a willing educator.

Toi is a screenwriter/playwright/poet/academic writer and is currently working on three projects: an interactive autobiography with poems, prose, and photos called “Saturn Return”, a chapbook of their original works, and a book about the many uprisings and revolutions of their ancestors and how these have informed their social justice activism and theories on social change.

Toi’s academic work includes papers on the failures of modern medicine to address pain, fibromyalgia and lupus in women of color and the perpetuation of the pain cycle within the community and by the medical profession, a paper on the ethical implications of transgender medicine, and a paper on African and African American women healers of the South, healing as a resistance to the institution of slavery, and the co-optation, failed acknowledgement, and denigration of Native American and African healing methods by modern medicine.

Toi is also writing, co-editing, and has organized statewide community involvement forums in Austin, Texas  for the upcoming book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, a comprehensive resource guide for the transgender/genderqueer/gender non-conforming  community that covers health, legal issues, cultural and social questions, history, theory, and more.

You can read more of Toi’s writing at Genderqueer Street Philosophactivist and Advocation.

 

 

 

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