|Jaime and Michelle, 2010|
I knew Jaime was genderqueer before we met and that he would eventually transition. I had never dated anyone who was trans even though most of my exes were on the butch side. We opened up to each other a lot before we met, writing emails and talking about ourselves in a way that was surprising, I think, to both of us, since we didn’t know each other and neither of us had a history of striking up internet relationships with random strangers. I totally harassed him into meeting me but we haven’t left each other’s side since.
In the early stages of our relationship we talked all the time about his transitioning, and it was scary for me. Being the femme partner of a transguy is both exhilarating and difficult. It is difficult since I’m also a mom and people automatically assume I’m straight. I bristle against losing the little bit of visibility I have as a queer. And it is exhilarating because I get to share this crazy transformative experience with someone I love with every bit of my life and body. All of the fears I had haven’t disappeared, but they seem to matter less now than they did a few years ago.
I guess that is because at the end of the day, when we are wrapped around each other and falling asleep and whispering and talking and fucking, the only thing that matters is the gift of what each of us is and how we share what we are with each other. Jaime has challenged me to grow in ways I didn’t think were possible—he makes me question all of my preconceived notions about who and what I am. He has helped me come back into touch—literally and figuratively—with the radical possibilities of living truthfully to oneself without sacrificing empathy for others. Watching him transition and make sense of his body, his refusal to not live in it even if that can be painful, his desire to get beyond the pain of that and still find utter joy and pleasure in it—god, it makes me hot for him at the same time that it helps me relate to my own body in healthier ways.
I think part of what brought us close initially, besides -or laced into- the visceral attraction, was shared -though in no ways identical- experiences of growing up in rural northern new England and living “closeted” lives without queer role models, peers, or reference points. We met at points in both of our lives when we were striving to both reconcile the past, places and selves we’d “left behind,” and simultaneously live out /claim/authenticate whole versions of ourselves. …on our own terms. Michelle immediately inspired me -through her refusal to be quiet, invisible, or defined by others as well as her love and acceptance of who I was and who I was becoming- to take more chances, to find my voice, and to live my truth outwardly …in ways I’d previously held back from or shied away from.
In my ideal world, there could be as many gender identities as there are people; No longer any need for narrow, rigid dichotomous categories used to rank and order people within an oppressive, hierarchical, sexist homophobic system. We would also update our language a touch to reflect these more nuanced, fluid, multiplicitous identities. In THIS world however, I have a vexed relationship with gender categories and with how to express and explain my own identity. In order to be a “legible,” viable social entity, it seems, one must “choose” one and only one (a or b, x or y, man or woman, he or she). However, I feel like both/neither/none of the above/all of the above. Further complicating the scenario for such a die-hard social constructionist as I, is my relationship with my body and my desire to physically alter it through hormones and surgeries. I would prefer mass social - political - cultural transformation to this individual physical transition, but in the mean time it helps me to live more comfortably and empowered in my own skin.