It’s [Not That Fucking] Complicated

Musings from the Intersection of Gender, Sexuality, and Love— 

As an androphilic pansexual transguy, I face some particular challenges in navigating the world of romance and sexuality. A bleeding heart hopeless romantic, I often fall in love too quickly, with friends rather than an announced candidate for a lover. I don’t date. I don’t know how. Sites like OkCupid and Tinder terrify me. I’m not perfect or mysterious, and I’m shit at pretending to be. Decent first impressions are hard to make, especially over an electronic medium. I’m also terrible at “flings,” I can’t just talk to someone online for a few days, meet up, have sex, and continue on with my life. I want something long-term. I’ve got too much emotional scars to deal with a hit and run.

Perhaps it’s naïve of me, but I believe that when you [are in] love [with] someone, you try to make things work, regardless of their assigned sex or genitalia or level of transition or anything biological that they cannot control. After all, you wouldn’t say to the brunette that you’re in love with that you can’t have a sexual relationship with them because your preference is for blondes, would you? Trans people cannot control their biology any more than cis people can. We didn’t ask to be born into the bodies we were, and it isn’t fair for anyone to tell us that they love us but can’t have sex with us because we’re not real –insert gender here-.

Any LGBT advocate would tell you in thirteen seconds flat that gender identity and sexual orientation are not related. This is true only to the extent that people of any gender identity can be straight, gay, somewhere in between. Gender identity does not inform sexuality, but the two are inextricably linked.

When I first acknowledged the trans feelings inside of me, I did a lot of research into the experiences of trans people. Mostly, I looked for explorations into what gender dysphoria felt like, what challenges trans people faced that were somehow different from the experience of the rest of the LGBT community, what it felt like to start medically transitioning, and so on. In my studies, though, I began finding transition stories told through the eyes of trans partners. I found their struggles nearly incomprehensible.

One of the books I read was written by an alumna of my alma mater. The author, a heterosexual woman, married a man who was an actor and avid crossdresser. She describes him as the love of her life. She loves him passionately and he is her best friend. A few years into their marriage, her husband realized that crossdressing wasn’t what he wanted; he realized that she was, in fact, a woman. The mere discussion of transition caused the author a lot of strife. Her husband began presenting as female in public (also known as socially transitioning), but that didn’t bother the author. The only part that caused her real trepidation was the idea of her husband surgically transitioning. She swore that she was heterosexual, she wasn’t lesbian, she didn’t know if she could love her husband the same way if he were she. I don’t understand this. If you love someone, that love must come from somewhere deeper than the body, the way magma comes from inside the earth, not the surface of the volcano. How can something as powerful as love be changed by something so superficial as genitalia?

As a trans person, reading things like this really scares me. It makes me feel isolated in a way that little else can. I often find myself trying to justify why I feel so differently about love and gender and sexuality than most of the queer people I’ve read about. Maybe it’s because I’m pansexual, that gender is irrelevant to me compared to the galaxies that occupy these vessels of flesh and bone. Or, perhaps, because I’m trans and have always been more than a little dissociated from my body, I find bodies to be less relevant than someone who’s spent their entire lives in union with one. Maybe I’m naïve. But I have to believe that there is more to human love and sexuality than bodies. After all, the largest and most powerful sexual organ in the human body is the brain.

My theory is that people become far too attached to the labels they give themselves. I’m attracted to masculinity. Some would say that makes me gay. Sure, I call myself gay most of the time. But, to hide behind that label and refuse to see the beauty and allure in masculine women, nonbinary people, trans men, androgynes, netrois, etc. is anathema to me. People have a way of hiding behind labels for many reasons. Maybe they enjoy the community they’ve found attached to their label and they’re worried about being labeled enough to remain a part of it. It can’t be that people are really staunchly monosexual, that much is for sure. 

Some of the best research on human sexuality was conducted during the 1950s and 60s by a sexologist by the name of Alfred Kinsey. Kinsey hypothesized that human sexuality was not a ‘this or that’, but a spectrum. The very simplified calculation of that spectrum is known as The Kinsey Scale. This eight-point scale is a relatively clunky way of viewing sexuality, not to mention a heteronormative one, as it only scales between heterosexual (approaching 0) and homosexual (approaching 6). X is the classification given to those who are asexual. Kinsey hypothesized that the smallest number of people fell on the extreme ends of the spectrum with no more than two percent of the population being exclusively hetero- or homosexual. NINETY-EIGHT PERCENT of people fall in the middle. Humans are therefore omnisexual, and widely varying in their sexual preferences, whether they choose to acknowledge them or not.

 

I wish I could call the queer people out of hiding, to make them all realize that hiding behind their label doesn’t make them more queer. If anything, it makes them less. Being queer means being unrestrained by anyone’s guidelines. Use your brains, not your partner’s genitals, to determine attraction and sexual compatibility. Sexuality is fluid and the vast majority of humans are polysexual. Let’s stop hiding behind labels and breaking our own hearts if someone we love isn’t the gender we want them to be. If you love someone, love them thoroughly and completely.

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3 thoughts on “It’s [Not That Fucking] Complicated

  1. I had the same fears when I first began to solidly identify as asexual. I never dated (and since I’m determined to marry my current girlfriend, will have only ever dated one person) but even the possibility of a future romance made me feel pressured to be completed upfront about my sexuality. I felt like I would be dismissed right off the bat because the other person would see in their possible future with me a sexless, and therefore loveless relationship.

    That’s not true, though. You’re right; love knows no bounds, gender or sex or otherwise. Not when it’s the right person. Yes, my girlfriend (who claims no labels or identifiers, and more power to her for it) and I struggle to find the right balance of physical romance vs non-physical, but we make it work because we’re right together.

    Don’t lose hope in finding someone. I found my girlfriend by a leap of faith post on Craigslist, of all places.

  2. The thing I love about online dating sites, especially OkCupid, is that everyone there is looking for a romantic or sexual partner, and they can clearly clarify in carefully thought out written words exactly who they are, what a potential partner needs to accept about them, and what exactly they are looking for. OkCupid thinks of almost everything – how people can be incompatible because of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), drug or alcohol habits, diets, wanting kids or not, the way they view casual sex, etc. You also are SAFE when you’re on the site, safely behind your own computer screen in your house, and you can start off slow, you can message back and forth and wait until the words that the other person says to you makes you trust that the person will be everything you need them to be.

    I am asexual, and so I am 100% lost and confused when it comes to the complicated issue of sex and what monosexual (heterosexual or homosexual) people need/want when it comes to other people’s genitals, vs. if it’s only masculinity or femininity or something completely unrelated to the actual biology. Or if, as is likely, it varies from person to person. I think it is an issue that needs to be studied further.

  3. Interesting. For me, MtF, if I have SRS, then I’ll consider relations with a man, however, if I do not get SRS I see myself striving for a female mate. Weird, if I imagine my penis being touched by a man i feel molested type feelings, where as with the exact same flesh and nerves reconfigured into a vagina I can tell I would like very much relations with a man. lol.

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