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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT’

Question MarkA reader writes: “I have been an out Lesbian for 24 years (I’m 44) and recently met and fell in love with a Trans guy. For obvious reasons, this was a little confusing at the start, and I am still curious about my changing ‘identity’ (which appears to have become a little more fluid and harder to define than previously!).

“What are your thoughts on Lesbians dating Trans men? Should we still even care about labeling ourselves? How do I (or do you think I should) raise this stuff with my straight friends?”

I think it’s fine for anyone to date anyone, including lesbians dating trans men. What I have found to be one of the biggest problems for anyone dating a trans person is that the person then starts questioning his or her own sexual orientation. This can be a huge challenge for people whose identity is strongly tied to their sexual orientation.

This is not a specifically lesbian-related phenomenon, although this is where I have seen it most, and I believe that this is because so many trans men have come out of the lesbian community. I have had straight women question whether or not dating a trans man made them a lesbian (of course not), and I have had straight men question whether or not dating a trans woman made them a gay man (of course not).

I have had lesbians worry that they are now straight because they are dating a trans man, and gay men worry that they are now straight because they are dating a trans woman (or even a trans man!).

All of this is fairly common in my experience, which is why I devoted a chapter to it in Just Add Hormones called “What Does That Make Me?” In this case, what it makes you is a lesbian dating a trans man. Or it could make you a bisexual woman dating a trans man, or a queer woman dating a trans man, or even a straight woman dating a trans man. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “This is my second year going to TDOR (Transgender Day of Remembrance). I am still having difficulty understanding a lot of the terms used by the transgender community.

“MTF and FTM I can understand, while others are not so easy. Also, I would like the understand more GLBTQ words and definitions as well. I’m a lesbian who barely understands the community lingo. I thought I was butch, then I understand that I’m seen as a soft butch. Now I think I’m gender queer. I’m 34 – all these new words are making me feel old and unsure.

“Is there a book or dictionary (with pictures) that can better explain to me the different terms and views?

Welcome to the world of ever-evolving language. Just when you thought you knew what a word meant, its meaning starts to shift. This is normal for language in general, but when you have a community that has been put in the position of having to create its own terms on its own terms, you tend to get multiple, and sometimes misunderstood, meanings.

I don’t know of one specific book or dictionary that explains all of the terms used in the LGBTQ community. It would be massive and ever-changing. But I think there are some things that can at least help out. I did a search for “LGBT dictionary” online, and there are a lot of websites that have many definitions.

The problem with books and websites is that, as I said, words and meanings change over time. Also, usage can vary from group to group and from region to region. Age factors in, as does race, ethnicity, class, and culture. So no matter what you do, you will probably be wrong, or at least a little off, at some time. However, if you have a base to start from, then you can learn to shift and adapt. (more…)

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GeeseIt’s an annual tradition – my Thanksgiving coming-out poem. Hope you are having a great day.

My regular readers have likely seen this poem more times than they care to, but if you’re new, welcome to the tradition. Thanks for reading, and here we go:

 A Thanksgiving Coming Out

By Matt Kailey

There’s a holiday coming on which we give thanks
For the wonderful things in our lives.
Not cell phones or new cars or what’s in the bank,
But our partners or husbands or wives.

We think of our loved ones as we plan our trips.
To see them will be a real treat.
And we know that the question on everyone’s lips
Will be, “When the heck do we eat?”

Now I’ve been through many a Thanksgiving feast
And lived to tell the story.
I can’t really rank them from most fun to least —
They all seemed a little bit gory.

There was one at my grandmother’s house, when she said,
“Let us each say what we’re thankful for.”
But before we could answer, my drunk Uncle Ted
Was sprawled out like a dog on the floor.

Another time everyone came to my place
With their offers to get in the way.
They crowded the kitchen and took up the space,
But at clean-up, they just couldn’t stay.

Then my sis tried her hand at the family feast,
With enough food to feed twenty-one.
But her poor old dog, Rover, that ungrateful beast,
Got there first and left us with none.

So, what’s really going on here? Are you excited? I mean —

(more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I always knew I was a boy and always was super-attracted to bodies coded as ‘male’ – a flat chest, broad shoulders, and a pretty face. As a trans man, this has translated into me dating everyone except cis women (both butch and femme). I just do not find cis women attractive at all.

“I know you identified as a straight woman before transitioning, but have you – or your readers – ever heard of a trans man who always felt uncomfortable with both straight men and lesbians and never identified as a straight woman, a straight man, or a lesbian? Has any of us (besides me) spent our life only being attracted to trans women and (especially) feminine gay or bi (but leaning towards gay) men, whether cis or trans?

“I feel really alone lately. So much of the ‘trans men’ community is centered within the ‘lesbian community.’ Neither my (cis, pansexual) boyfriend nor I belong to, nor feel comfortable in, their community.

“If there are more like me out there, do you think there will ever be a trans man community that isn’t automatically linked to a lesbian community that some of us never felt a part of? How can we create space for gay trans men and make ourselves visible if the lesbian community not only conflates us with woman-loving macho butches, but also assumes that every trans man loves women and got his start in the lesbian community?”

There are definitely trans men out there who have never identified with the lesbian community and who have also never identified as straight women. I am aware of guys who have always identified as, or felt like, gay men, even when they were forced to live as women based on their sex designated at birth.

I think that there are several reasons why trans men are sometimes automatically linked to the lesbian community: (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am having issues determining my sexual identity since transition from female to male. Dating and having a relationship are things I consciously took off the table while I was in the early stages of transition. It is now three years into transition and the idea of having someone in my life is sounding pretty good.

“Although I am attracted to the male physique and enjoy the visual of a handsome, sexually attractive man, I just don’t picture myself in a sexual relationship with a man, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. I am attracted to women, especially lesbian women. But I am not so interested in overly masculine lesbians. If she is more masculine than I am, I feel feminine and that makes me uncomfortable.

“But the thought of having my face in close proximity of a vagina just makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t know if that is an act I could perform. I am not sure if that distaste has to do with the fact that even though I have had some surprisingly impressive changes, I still consider myself to have a vagina and I don’t like it at all and I am looking forward to the day I have lower surgery.

“I don’t really care about labels, but my brain wants desperately to find a category to place my sexually identity in. So what defines sexual identity? Is it attraction to femininity or masculinity, a particular type of genitalia or what? I like to believe my sexual attraction revolves around the individual as a whole and not just particular body parts. I am so confused. What are your words of wisdom on the topic of sexual identity?”

Once again, we run into the problem and the necessity of labels. We are a label-making, category-making species, and because of this, labels can be both friends and enemies. They help us define ourselves, but they also limit our choices. The problem with definitions, which evolve from labels, is that many people have many definitions for one label. You asked for mine, so here goes: (more…)

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Question MarkToday we have two letters about identity that I thought went together quite well. So here goes:

A reader writes: “I consider myself transgender – I was born female, but feel very much that the concept of ‘womanhood’ does not apply to me in the slightest. I’ve always pursued more male interests and likings – everything from activities to clothes – even when I was too young to realize what I was doing. ‘Man’ best describes what I am when think of myself.

“In looking through different websites, there is no end of material about how to medically transition, and some information about how to ‘pass’ and live life as the opposite gender without having surgery.

“Though I wish that I had been born a male, I’m not too jazzed about having my fairly-well-working body operated on, or, for that matter, transitioning to living as a guy at all. I express myself with my choice of attire (think butch lesbian or gay guy). Are there other trans people who don’t medically and socially transition, and are there any resources that I’m missing? What’s the likelihood that other trans people will decide that I’m not really transgender, and are they correct?”

There are always some trans people who will decide that you are not trans. Whether they are correct or not depends on what definition they are using for “trans” or “transgender” – there are still quite a few out there. But the term “transgender” has morphed in meaning since I transitioned fifteen years ago.

I also know quite a few people who identify as trans*, which also seems to have different definitions, depending on who you talk to. But some of the people I know who identify as trans asterisk, which is how they verbalize the term, also see themselves as genderqueer or as simply not fitting into the mainstream gender binary. Others simply use it to express the fact that there are many different types of trans people.

I have one friend (who uses the plural pronoun “they”) who primarily identifies as genderqueer, but they also identify as trans*, and they say that this is their way of connecting with and being a part of the larger trans community, but separating themselves in the sense that they have no plans to transition, either medically or socially. They feel like they are on the fringe of what they consider to be the more “mainstream” transgender and transsexual community.

So everyone’s got his/her/hir/their own way of identifying, and I think that there are many people who identify as trans, trans*, or transgender who have no intention of transitioning in any way. Your identity is your own. (more…)

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Five Attributes of Trans Allies

handshakeLast week in my Transgender Studies class, and also at a Diversity Day presentation that I made on the Auraria Campus, we talked about allies.

In my opinion, allies are an important component of any group. They add numbers, they add voices, and in some cases, they bring a certain amount of power that is lacking because of the way that a particular group is seen in the “mainstream,” where the group is trying to gain at least equality, if not acceptance.

That last contribution is unfortunate, but true. Without allies, many groups would not be able to move forward as rapidly and as successfully as they do with outside support. Allies are an important component of any movement. I have written about allies before, but I think it’s always a good time to revisit the topic, so I would like to outline what I consider to be five important attributes of trans allies:

1. A trans ally acknowledges his/her/hir own power and privilege and is aware of it, but also acknowledges ours. In other words, a trans ally understands that we are not victims and don’t need rescuing, but also understands that the support of allies is beneficial to our community.

Trans allies prefer to help us develop and utilize our personal power in situations where they have it and we don’t, rather than take over and wield their own power while we are silenced. I have done many co-presentations with non-trans allies (who are all fantastic, by the way), and a couple of time, I have felt almost used as a poster child to make a point about the injustices to which trans people are subjected.

While I appreciate the recognition of those injustices, and while I appreciate that non-trans people just learning about the topic might be more open to receiving this information from another non-trans person, I also feel that this drains my own personal power and removes my voice – and I do have one – from the conversation.

Of course, not all trans people have the same level of personal power, and for each of us, the amount of power we have depends on the situation at hand. But when we do have it, we need to be able to use it. (more…)

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