Tagged: dating

What if he changes his mind?

This question baffles me.

No one has ever asked me what I would do if Matt changed his mind, but I’ve read of many parents of gender-nonconforming kids being asked this relentlessly.

I don’t think a person could meet Matt and then ask me what we would do if he “changed his mind”. There isn’t a fiber in his being that suggests he’s anything other than male.

But, I love Matt. I love him immensely.

If he changed his mind, about being trans, I’d do everything in my power to help him feel loved and safe.

Would it be easy? Absolutely not. Generally speaking I don’t find myself attracted to feminine features. I love beards. I love treasure trails. I love deep voices. I love tough, strong men. But would I still want to be with him? Yes.

I would do everything in my power to help get him back to a place where he feels comfortable in his body.

dealing with dysphoria as a cis-partner

I am so lucky to have met Matt at this point in his transition. I feel so lucky that he is established as a man in his (and everyone in his life’s mind). Blessed, actually.

I see stories often on the /r/MyPartnerIsTrans subreddit of couples who have been together, as seemingly cisgender individuals, now faced with one partner transitioning. The toll on each partner, not to mention the relationship, their families, their friends… it’s unimaginable.

I like to think that I am a strong woman. I like to think that the love that I feel for Matt is unconditional. That being said, I can never begin to guess how I would feel if he told me he needed to transition for the first time or even to detransition.

In trying to understand dysphoria’s place in my life, Matt’s life, and our relationship I had been pondering what I thought dysphoria felt like for Matt and not what it felt like for me.

I’ve been struggling to find words to find something I’ve never felt before. It doesn’t really feel like my topic to talk about. Dysphoria is a trans thing. Right?

Dysphoria is something I can witness, but it feels weird for me to talk about it from my perspective. No one has ever asked me what it feels like to be dysphoric, so I never considered it. But it still exists in my life. I still encounter dysphoria because I have a trans boyfriend.

Matt is generally really comfortable in his skin. Suddenly he didn’t want to be naked in front of me. I’m not sure if it was embarrassment fueled by the dysphoria, but I went a few days without seeing him totally naked. I’d tug at his boxers and he’d give me a look of discomfort. Like, what was underneath was foreign and he didn’t want to have to look at it.

So, what does it feel like for me when Matt feels dysphoric? I feel helpless. I feel absolutely useless.

There is nothing I can read on the internet to help me understand dysphoria. There is no quick guide for dealing with a dysphoric boyfriend. These first six months of our relationship have consisted of me learning about trans-ness as a general topic. There isn’t any way for me to understand away dysphoria. It’s not something I said, it’s not something I did, it’s not something I triggered.

I wanted to caress his face, and feel his beard, but I was worried he’d think I was drawing attention to one of his “manlier” characteristics. I wanted to lay my head across his chest, he always loves that, but I was worried he’d think I was drawing attention to his post-op chest. I wanted to tell him that I’m here for him. That I love him, no matter what. That I would do anything in my power to ease his pain. But I still fight an internal struggle. I don’t want him feel demasculinized. In that moment, I want to help him forget all the things that hurt him, not emphasize the things that are hurting him.

And then suddenly, the dysphoria passed.

It was like a switch. It seemed to be a really short time  between Matt wanting his boxers to stay plastered just beneath his belly button and Matt wanting me to rip his clothes off and screw like little bunnies.

It was surprising. We didn’t really change anything in his routine, I didn’t do anything differently… There wasn’t a fix that I could see and it was unsettling for me.

In a perfect world, I wish that he had the ability to communicate what he’s feeling. Not just to help me visualize what hurts (emotionally or otherwise), but to help see how he went from 0 to 60. What triggered him. What flipped the switch.

That being said, I recognize that Matt generally does things to the best of his ability. When he’s dealing with dysphoria, I might as well be talking to Harry Potter seated next to a dementor. I get that that’s all he’s got in him. There are some days where I come home from work in a huffy. It had nothing to do with Matt, but I’m in the fuck-everyone mood. I understand that Matt is human, and that he probably wants the exact same thing out of me, when I’m in a bad place.

The best I have to offer is this: Ask your partner, in a time that they’re not feeling dysphoric, what they want, need, or expect from you. Respect their response, whether it was what you expected or not, whether it’s how you would want from them in the same position.

Know that you cannot solve their dysphoria. The best you can do is love and support them in the same way you have in every other aspect of your life together.

How do we display pictures of his childhood when he’s wearing pink and his hair is in pigtails?

There are a few really simple answers:

1. Don’t. Not everyone displays kid-pictures, right?

This one just isn’t good enough for Steph. I love having pictures up. It’s one of those things that turns a house into a home.

2. Just do it. People might ask questions, but if we’ve let them into our home, then that’s “to be expected”.

This one just didn’t sit well with Matt. There are a lot of people in our life together that don’t know Matt is trans. While some of our readers don’t believe this is the best way for us to “live our life”, we feel it is. For instance: Neither of us are ready to out Matt to Steph’s parents. There may be a time and a place, but here and now is not it. Having pictures of Matt, with long pigtails and pink dresses, doesn’t bode well for keeping stealth.

So, like always, we went into brainstorm mode to find a solution.

3. Reddit. Check out one of the many subreddits: /r/picrequests.

Matt and Steph submitted a request for the photo manipulation masters of the web to give his pink clothes a blue-tint and shorten his hair. The results? Absolutely fantastic and 100% framable. We’ve actually shared the digital copies with Matt’s parents, who were thrilled.

Image

Remember, if the solutions presented to you aren’t adequate, keep thinking.

to tell or not to tell? | there is a time and a place

As of right now, we’ve not told any of my family members. Two of my friends know and, for now, that suits us well.

I would like for my immediate family, my parents and brother, to know at some point. The number one reason being that it’s possible that they could find out from another source. A gathering of Matt’s family and mine for instance. I want them to find out from us. I want it to happen in a positive environment where they can have the opportunity to ask questions and process however they feel necessary. I don’t think that they’ll react negatively, they’re open and understanding, but it’s a topic that I don’t think they’ve ever had to confront head-on.

I don’t think it’s relevant for my extended family, or even most of my friends to know. I frame it similarly to ethnicity. There are a lot of people who are very proud of their ethnicity. They love to educate others and spread the beauty of their culture. That’s great, but there are plenty of people who identify as an ethnicity, but feel no need to advocate for it. Matt isn’t a trans-advocate (I wouldn’t mind if he was, he just isn’t). He isn’t particularly involved in the trans or LGBT community. There’s no reason to tell people his life story unless he wants to.

Until then, I guess we’ll just keep being stealth 😉

— Steph

to tell or not to tell? | i’d rather not

Steph and I are gearing up for a holiday that we’re splitting between our respective families, which includes swimming and being semi-naked frequently. Understandably, the topic has come up… do we tell her family that I’m a trans guy or don’t we? So that got me thinking…

Do you wanna know something that I don’t know?

I don’t know how big everyone’s dick is. My boss, my brother, my best friends, strangers on the street, not even my old roommates’ dicks… I don’t know and I don’t care.

This is my rationale when people ask me why I decide to be stealth and why I don’t think it’s all that important to tell people that I have a trans status/past/history/experience/etc.

Let me explain…

I have yet to encounter someone who has been circumcised or not circumcised who feels the unavoidable need to disclose that information to all of their friends, relatives, and in laws let alone complete stranger. It’s not a judge of their character, it was almost certainly not their choice, and it had absolutely no effect on their ability to receive or provide pleasure to someone (given that there were no lasting medical complications, which happens at a rate of 1.5% for newborns and 6% for older children, source).

Side note: circumcision is a little different with respect for the individual’s bodily autonomy, etc, etc; which is a great discussion but not one for this post.

So, anyway, other than the instances where I’ve gotten impressively drunk with my friends and we all decided to drop trow, I can’t see how the topic would ever come up among decent, socially aware human beings.

To be clear, I’m not ashamed of my trans status/past/history/experience/etc, I just don’t embrace it or think that it accurately expresses how I feel and what I’ve gone through.

Ok, so you get the big idea here, right? People don’t need to have intel about my genitals to know who I am as a person, and really my genitals are the only thing that’s visually affected by my trans status/past/history/experience/etc. There is actually another reason too…

People generally treat me differently when they know.

Some people have a very static idea of what being trans means and what trans people are like or how they look. People in the past have noticeably shifted their attitude towards me when they found out including…

  • Treating me more delicately
  • Being more guarded about certain topics (like sex or profanity)
  • Questioning my sexuality
  • Distancing themselves from me physically and emotionally
  • Using incorrectly gendered pronouns
  • Simply being mean and rude

So, at the end of the day, I don’t feel like anyone needs to know. I definitely don’t owe it to anyone to disclose my trans status/past/history/experience/etc and actually feel that it’s not worth my time/attention/sanity/safety/anxiety/stress/etc to fully explain who I am and why I don’t give a shit what they think. However, if someone does find out or if I tell someone, I’d rather educate them properly then have another ignorant jackass running around misgendering people and asking rude questions.

–Matt

how is dating a trans guy different from dating a cis guy?

Honestly, dating Matt isn’t a whole lot different from any other dating experience I’ve had. The most unique aspect of our story is that we fell in love in a whirlwind are incredibly (ridiculously) compatible. However, a few trans-related differences:

  1. I can’t tell, just from looking at or touching his crotch, if he’s got a boner.

  2. There are some things that are infinitely funnier. When my period is late and a friend says, “Jeez Steph, what if you’re pregnant!” or when someone says, “Damn, I bet he has a huge cock.”

  3. He understands my body, and how it feels pleasure, very very well.

  4. Acquiring hormones requires therapy. Therapy leads to greater self awareness and emotional stability. Matt is more ‘whole’ than anyone else I’ve ever been with. He’s emotionally equipped to handle stress, confrontation and crisis better than anyone I’ve ever dated.

  5. Since soy sauce and testosterone don’t jive, I’ve had to adapt my Thai Peanut Chicken Stir Fry recipe to be soy-free.

reacting to anti-trans attitudes in public

Thankfully this has yet to be an issue. This post was sparked by a hypothetical situation posed by a fellow redditor:

Two strangers are sitting in a separate seat on a public busbashing a co-worker who is a trans man or woman.

What do you do?

Before meeting Matt my reaction would probably have been to scoff, make a displeased face directed towards the strangers for their distasteful conversation topic and move on. I had no stake in trans-rights or equality.

My attachment still isn’t “first degree” personal victimization, but after all the research I’ve done, all the incredible trans men and women I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know in person, through their writings, and through vlogs… I’d probably have a small fire burning under my ass.

If Matt and I were on this hypothetical bus together, I would probably let him take the lead. I wouldn’t want want to make him feel uncomfortable, and he’s the one whose safety is at risk if he’s outed.

If I was alone, however, I’m honestly not sure what I’d do. I would definitely want to confront them. I hate bullying. Not that anyone likes it, but I absolutely cannot stand the way decent human beings can turn into inconsiderate fools in seconds.

My desire to confront them wouldn’t come from a place of wanting to raise my voice and “set the record straight”, but to educate them. To challenge their way of thinking. I think a the majority of anti-trans attitudes (or anti-any minority, really) come from a lack of understanding. We’re fearful of the things we do not know; things we don’t yet understand.

Rather than kicking ass and taking names I’d like to scoot into a bus seat near these folks and hope to ease their fear through teaching them that trans men and women are just that: men and women.

 Safe travels,

Steph

so you’re thinking about dating a trans guy? | steph’s side of the story part 2

You have a friend who just told you they’re a trans guy?

Your significant other is thinking about transitioning?

You’re just curious about trans guys in general?

Here are some of the things I learned the night (and weeks after) Matt told me that he is trans:

A Translation of Terms and Concepts for “Interested Parties”:

Note: I’ve ordered these in a “story” format. Feel free to skip around, but if you’re completely new to the game it may benefit you to read from top to bottom. Some of these terms can be found with textbook definitions in our FAQ section.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. My knowledge is limited and learning and understand the trans community is an ongoing process. 

Gender Identity: Gender identity has very little to do with genetailia, assigned gender, chromosomes, sexual orientation, or presentation. Just because someone is currently presenting as a female does not mean that they identify as female. Gender identity is the gender that a person feels they are. I’ve read that this is dynamic or fluid in some people, but in my experience it’s fairly static. I truly believe that no gender identity is wrong.

Gender Identity Disorder: This is when someone’a assigned gender (chromosomes and/or genetailia) do not match up with their gender identity. Matt went through a long process as a child and young adult being told he had Gender Identity Disorder and going through the hoops to rectify it. Basically the process entailed ensuring doctors that he was confident in his gender identity and competent enough to make life-altering decisions (like to start hormone therapy or to have surgery).

Transgender vs. Cisgender: A transgender individual was born into a body that does not match the gender they identify with. A cisgender person was born into a body that does match the gender they identify with. Matt is a transgender male, Steph is cisgender female.

FTM, F2M, female-to-male, trans man, trans guy, transgender male: These are all other terms for trans guy. I typically stick with trans guy, because it’s generic and gets the point across. Tranny, transsexual and transgendered are all generally unacceptable terms to refer to a trans person. If you’re unsure of how to address a trans person, just ask them.

Passing: Trans guys work to present to the general public as their intended gender. They go through a fair amount of work to pass in their daily lives. I’ll go through some of that below…

Stealth: When someone passes 100% of the time, they’re able to go “stealth” if they want to. I wish this had something to do with being a secret undercover agent for a special operative, but really it’s just going about one’s life as the gender one identifies as without needing or wanting to disclose their transgender identity and their past with others. Pretty simple, though the name is awesome.

Stealth Seal: Cis-gender people generally assume that the people they’re around are also cis-gender. When a trans person reveals their trans-status, they are breaking what Matt and I have called the stealth seal.

Here’s a list of some techniques guys use to pass:

Packing and Packers: A packer is a prosthetic that hangs in a harness situated in a trans guys’ groinal area. Packers are intended to create the bulge that cisgender males have. Matt’s packer is a “vanilla” colored silicone soft packer. He uses a homemade harness with an elastic around-the-waist band and denim/mesh pocket for the packer. I’ve read about (and seen pictures of) “pack and play” packers that are semi-hard and can be used for general presentation as well as sex. Matt and I tend to make light of his packer. My first few times seeing or holding his packer were uneasy, but we’ve gotten past that. He’s comfortable joking about “cleaning his dick” or making jokes about his dick being in another room. Take this slow. Some guys won’t be as comfortable. I recommend taking a look at some packers and harnesses (NSFW LINK).

just so you aren’t surprised if/when you see one.

Stand to Pee (STP): An STP is a packer that is rigged so that a trans guy can urinate standing up. A big concern for transgender individuals is being “outed” while in the restroom. It’s a big risk that causes a lot of stress and can sometimes be unsafe for the trans guy. STPs make it possible for transguys to “whip it out and go” just like bio-guys. I’ve never seen one of these, but there are lots of YouTube videos!

Binding: Breasts often get in the way of passing. I met Matt after he’d had his top surgery (more on that below), but binding is a technique lots of guys use before they have their surgery. Binders are basically super tight tank tops that constrict the breasts to make the chest appear flat. Some guys use multiple sports bras, but FtM specific websites sell products specifically for male presentation. I think it’s important to note that guys can do real damage to their spine, chest, lungs and back by binding too tight. I’ve read that a lot of trans guys, before having top surgery, don’t take off their binder for sex. Don’t expect that your partner will be comfortable with their body as is.

Dysphoria: The unfortunate feeling of uneasiness when a guy’s body parts don’t match his mental image. Lots of guys report “phantom boners” and even phantom flaccid penises. The mis-match of brain-gender and body-parts can be extremely distressing. Fortunately Matt doesn’t experience much in the way of dysphoria, but my advice would be to ask your partner at a time when they’re not feeling dysphoric how they would like for you to respond. Every person’s expectations and needs are different.

“T”: On a very non-scientific level, testosterone is the body’s male hormone. Trans guys use testosterone to ease dysphoria and help their body match how they feel they should have been born. Common outcomes include lowering of the voice, increased sex drive, elongated dick (clitoral growth), hair, hair, and more hair, redistribution of body fat, increased muscle mass, and the stopping of menses. Topical creams and injections are the two most common forms of administering testosterone. Matt takes a shot once every other week. It’s not uncommon for guys to crave or look forward to their dose of T.

Top Surgery (chest surgery, bilateral mastectomy, double incision, keyhole): Top surgery is a permanent solution to binding. Breast tissue is surgically removed. A keyhole is a surgery that’s done when only a small amount of breast tissue exists. Scarring for keyhole surgeries is minimal. However, Matt had a bilateral mastectomy and was left with two large scars. The chest tissue is reconstructed to look just like a bio-male’s chest.

Gyneocomastia: When cisgender males develop abnormally large breasts. Gyneocomastia results from an imbalance in hormones; the body creates an excess of female hormones rather than male hormones. It’s not uncommon for stealth trans guys to tell people (when swimming, for instance) that they suffered from gyneocomastia. I don’t see anything wrong with this. Trans guys are guys. Their bodies created too much estrogen. That gave them excess breast tissue. They got it surgically removed. Bam. Scars.

Bottom Surgery (lower surgery, metoidioplasty, phalloplasty): There are a number of surgeries trans guys can undergo to reconstruct their lower organs to be more like cisgender males’. Science has not yet progressed for trans guys in the ways that it has for trans gals, but the option exists. To simplify: metoidioplasty involves separating the clitoris from the labia and extending the urethra while phalloplasty uses tissue to construct a penis. Check out this video for a look at one patient’s phalloplasty outcome. Other options that fall in the same category as bottom surgery include hysterectomy and oophorectomy to remove the existing internal female reproductive organs.

Prosthetic: Many trans guys are uncomfortable using their given parts during sex. This stems from dysphoria and is (very) understandable. A common solution is the use of a prosthetic (or dildo) and harness. However, I’d like to point out here that it is possible for a cis-woman and trans guy to enjoy coitus without the use of a prosthetic (Matt and I are happy sex-ing proof). Body confidence is key, ladies and gents.

Other Things to Consider:

What pronoun should I use? Well. If you’re dating a trans guy, I’m going to assume he’ll want you to use male pronouns. This shouldn’t be a guessing game, though. Ask. If you’re comfortable enough with this person to be diving into a relationship (sexual or otherwise) with them, you should be able to ask what they want to be called.

How does sex work? Of course, this will be different for every couple, but I can offer some advice. (More will come later too, I promise.) Buck Angel was my number one resource. Buck is an out-and-proud FtM porn star. I won’t provide any links, but there are videos of Buck riding vibrating dildos on talk shows, giving and receiving head, talking all kinds of dirty about his parts and loads (seriously, loads) of other things. Take an evening off from your usual spank bank and give it a look. If nothing else, you’ll learn a little.

How do I refer to his genetalia? This will depend on the guy. In the same way that some women don’t like their lady bits dubbed “cunt” I’m sure some guys won’t like the same terms Matt prefers. My general rule is this: If you wouldn’t say it to or about a cisgender male’s body don’t say it about a trans guys’ body. Buck Angel’s videos are a great resource for this. Again, I recommend taking a look at some pictures before you jump into the sack.

Don’t forget: Buck a great resource, but he is most definitely still a porn star.

In the same way cis-women don’t all want to have their face covered in cum, not all trans guys will want to have sex in the ways Buck does.

I used his videos more as a way to familiarize myself with transmen’s “parts” than anything else.

Can I tell _______ he’s trans? No! Not unless you’ve asked him. Story time: one friend of mine found out by accident. I had a picture of Matt in his boxers on my cell phone and my friend was flipping through my pictures. He noticed the scars on Matt’s chest, gave me a sly look and said he’d dated a guy with similar scars. I smiled, he smiled and it never came up again. I did, however, immediately text Matt and let him know. Regardless of whether it was intentional, or whether Matt wanted my friend to know, he now knows. It is my responsibility, and I owe it to Matt, to let him know.

Can I ask him about _______? Matt has been very open with me from the start. Only once has he not answered a question I asked. About what? His birth name. A few weeks later it came up on the back of a photo from when he was a kid. Once Matt was comfortable letting me see that part of his past, he opened the door. The moral of that story? Don’t push your partner to tell you anything he’s not comfortable telling you.

Is it transphobic of me to not want to date, be in a relationship with, or have sex with a trans guy? Time for an anecdote! I’d answered the OkCupid question, “Would you date a transgender person” with no. Luckily, Matt disregarded my response and gave me a shot. My hindsight perspective is that when answering that question I was dead set that penis-in-vagina sex was the best sex. Great sex is extremely important in a relationship and I didn’t see that as a possibility in my split second answering of that question. If that’s your reservation in dating a trans guy I would urge you to reconsider. However, no. I don’t think it makes you transphobic. I have lots of “deal breakers”. If a guy smokes cigarettes, he’s automatically out. For some women, a biological penis is required for satisfaction. If you wouldn’t date a guy who had his junk removed because of cancer either, I say you’re A-O-K. Transphobia comes into play only if you’re disrespectful to a person specifically because they’re trans.

Here’s a list of resources I found helpful:

Dade and his girlfriend Tiff (ElctricDade) were together before Dade transitioned. Their YouTube channel documents their journey; from top surgery to the birth of their child.

Skylar (skylarkeleven) is a college-aged trans guy who has documented most of his transition in vlog form.

Forest (ClosetTransgender) may be my absolute favorite YouTuber. He’s not afraid to ask the questions everyone is thinking. He often interviews other trans guys and brings in his real-life experiences when discussing hot-button trans issues.

Hudson’s FTM Guide is a great place to learn a little more about any trans related topics.

/r/mypartneristrans is a great place to ask questions of other people dating trans individuals

/r/asktransgender is a great place to ask questions of trans individuals themselves

/r/askGSM (gender and sexual minority) is a great place to ask questions of anyone of a gender or sexual minority. While it’s not specifically trans related it is, at times, nice to hear perspectives from a variety of sexual minorities.

Also check out /r/trans, /r/transeducate, and /r/ainbow

Huffington Post article: “How to Bed a Trans Man” is written from the perspective of a gay trans guy, but was helpful for me as a straight woman as well.

Tranifesto is a blog written by author Matt Kailey. He has a great perspective on the world and has a number of helpful posts.

TransQueerNation is a free member-only discussion board site with lots of information.

that time that I texted a girl to tell her I’m trans | matt’s part of the story part 2

The roads are always icy and bad during the winter in Minnesota, but as our date fell on the day following a week-long snow storm, we both agreed to let each other know when we were home safe. After quick messages of “Home safe” and “I had a great time,” I realized it was well past midnight and I should probably at least pretend I was tired.

Saturday was interesting, I was still riding the high from out amazing date but I was contemplative. I needed to tell her, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Sunday is cleaning day. I spent the whole day thinking, processing, and cleaning my apartment. I called and Skyped my friends. I talked it out. I wrote, rewrote, and deleted drafts upon drafts of text messages telling Steph about being trans. Meanwhile, Steph and I were texting semi-frequently, though I was noticeably more distant than I had been the past week.

It was never a question of not being comfortable with who I am, what I’ve gone through, or what it would mean to be a trans man in a relationship with a cis-woman. I wasn’t even scared of rejection as a whole. I just didn’t want to be rejected by THIS woman, because I had such a strong connection to her in such a short time. Basically, I didn’t want my fear that it was all too good to be true to be a reality.

So in the midst of trying to plan a date for the following day (Monday) this happened:

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And then we had a weird and awkward and interesting conversation that was both about our date and about to logistics of me being trans, what that means to me, what that would mean for her, etc.

The whole conversation lasted a few hours. I was as open as possible and she asked whatever questions came to mind. I knew that I had to provide her with bare honesty, and I wanted to, too. I wanted to share with her because I felt like she would understand.

I met her for pizza and a comedy show the next day after work. It was another incredible date. We kept talking, and even when everything seemed to be coming to a close we weren’t ready to be done in each other’s company, so I invited her over.

Now, don’t get ahead of yourself… I just wanted to keep talking with her. I wanted to soak her up. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the words to fall from her lips. I was hungry for her in the purest of ways. I wanted to hold her, protect her, watch her grow, watch her leave me and come back to me; I just wanted to be around her.

She followed me home and we talked into the night and cuddled before falling asleep together.

We planned the third date for Wednesday. Dinner and drinks back at my apartment.

This whole time she was asking me about my past and I was asking her about her past. The fact that I am trans was just another thing to discuss, but it was never the thing to discuss. She was curious about my background and history just as much as I was curious about hers. We both brought up our struggles and our pains. We brought up our passions and our personal victories. We shared so much of ourselves with each other from the start. We embraced each other’s souls with laughter and compassion.

I asked her to be my girlfriend that night. She said yes and it’s been the most amazing adventure of my life.

And that’s how I met my Steph, how I told her I was trans with a text message, and how we started falling in love.

the beginning of a process | steph’s side of the story part 1

Hey, internet. I’m Steph.

I’ve always been an “ally”. People are people and I believe they should be allowed to do what makes them happy (unless that’s killing babies, but you get the point). I helped organize the GSA’s Day of Silence at my high school. I’ve run Minneapolis’ Big Gay Race three years in a row.

My exposure to transfolk and trans-related issues before meeting Matt was absolutely zero. The image in my head of “trans” was incredibly vague, if not non-existent. I’d never met an openly trans person and I’d never even seen pictures of anyone, other than Chaz Bono, who was to my knowledge a transgender individual.

Matt is my boyfriend, but when he told me he was a trans guy our relationship was still quite new.

A few months ago I sent a cute guy a message through an online dating site. We messaged back and forth for a few days before setting up our first date.

Based on my interest in wine and the appeal of an intoxicated first impression we had dinner and drinks. We talked for hours over two flights of wine, two entrees, and bacon covered dessert. Having never smiled so much in my life, I talked him into walking across one of Minneapolis’ many beautiful bridges with me. At one point he snuck his hand in mine. I beamed.

I’d parked right near the restaurant and not wanting to end our date just yet I offered to drive him over to his car (two blocks, ladies and gentlemen… I was so into him). In my car, my beloved Saab, he asked me if he could kiss me. Matt was, and had been all night, unlike any of the other suitors I’d met online. I can’t remember if my response was of course or simply nodding my head, but I drove home that night with butterflies.

The next day or text message conversation was limited compared to those prior. We were both working and in hindsight I’m sure he was frightened to inform me of his “situation”. One glass of wine into the evening, I said (quite crassly, because I’d waited all day for him to ask me first) that we should go on a second date. The next few text messages are hard to recap, so here they are verbatim:

screen-shot-2013-05-31-at-14-49-25-2

Re-reading that my response seems so calm. Honestly? I was in an absolute panic.

Let’s rewind for a minute…

Throughout my college career I only seriously dated one guy. Let’s call him Brandon. Brandon and I got engaged toward the end of our Junior year. That summer I took a trip to the West Coast to visit a close friend and his newlywed wife. My relationship with Brandon had already been rocky, but seeing the joy my friend and his wife shared created even more doubt. Over and over in my head I assured myself that I deserved to feel the spark that my Oregonian friends had. I gave Brandon back his ring the day I landed in Minnesota. Our breakup was rocky, but I learned a lot about myself and what I was looking for in a partner.

Around the beginning of the new year I opened an account on OkCupid account. I went on dates with 4 or 5 guys and exclusively saw (and broke up with) one other guy before Matt and I started talking. My online experience was similar to that of a lot of women… Meaningful conversations with a few fellas, but an overwhelming number of sexual advances from creeps.

Anyway, the story at hand…

I’m thankful that I had google at my fingertips as Matt came out to me. I immediately googled “trans guy” came across a list of 10 Things Not to Say to a Trans Person:

  1. “Have you had ‘the operation’?”
  2. “Which bathroom do you use?”
  3. “If you combed your hair a certain way, walked a certain way, did ____ a certain way, you would be more masculine/feminine.”
  4. “When did you decide to become transgender/transsexual?”
  5. “You pass really well.”
  6. “I thought you’d be a monster – but you’re just a normal person!”
  7. “How do you have sex?”
  8. “I can still see the woman (or the man) in you.”
  9. “Are you afraid that people will hate you or want to hurt you?”
  10. “What does being a man (or a woman) mean to you?”

Given the fact that we’d intended to have sex with each other eventually these rules didn’t all apply. I asked him about hormone therapy, top surgery, his transition timeline, his junk–for lack of a better word–and even sex. I asked questions that I would never feel the need to ask a cis-gender male, but I did my best to be (and having asked Matt after-the-fact I believe I succeeded in being) respectful.

A lot of questions came up, but not necessarily all at once and definitely not all that night. Transitioning is a process and so is understanding what it means to date a trans person.

So, I began that process with Matt.

More on that process in part 2…