A list post from me:
This is a moving and potent discussion of the challenge we have as transpeople in relationship.
To be in relationship means, so very often, servicing the expectations, desires, and twists of another persons presence. I see dating sites that talk about how relationships are special when we are finally seen, understood, respected and valued for “who we truly are,” but the truth is that we are most often just swept into someone else’s drama.
What transpeople do for love is just amazing, twisting themselves into knots to get and keep a partner, all the while feeling more and more divorced from ourselves.
The system of gender is the system of desire, based around reproduction & child-rearing, and when we leave the role written on our body at birth, we also leave the system of desire.
I remember when doctors used to warn people before having GRS that you had to be ready for the possibility that you would never have sex again. And even today, Dr Phil tells people that we have to be ready to accept that people may never get their minds around us.
We tend to cling to identities because they hold the possibility of partnership opportunities even though they cause us chafing and pain. Fior example, we stay identified as a straight man so we can date straight women, even though we are more woman than man, or we stay identified as a lesbian, even though we are a man, so we can date lesbians.
But in the end, all that twisting just hurts. It doesn’t unlock and enable our Eros, it shuts it down, and that’s painful not just in the bedroom, but in all the areas that bliss empowers, the fullness of our lives.
To have to stay defended is to have to stay circumspect, losing the footing to do the most basic of human relations, flirting. How do we be sexy and energized when we know that we have to negotiate others fears and fantasies, from men who want a “fully functional she-male” to women who want “a man with a strong feminine side” and not another woman?
Never having an adolescence in the company of others who are also adolescent means we never really get to explore ourselves and who we are in relationship. We have to do this in a second adolescence as we emerge, and that, well, that’s almost impossible.
What it all comes down to is being burned and shut down, locked away in our own lonely isolation.
I feel for you deeply. Years ago, I told a partner that I was finally coming to know who I was, and I needed to explore who I was in relationship. She replied “Can’t you do that by yourself?”
The trans road is an individual path, and has to lead us away from longing and the way we twist ourselves to meet others expectations, otherwise we never hear our own true voice. But once we come to return the gift, as Joseph Campbell says, finding other post therapy people we can trust to move beyond their own own longing to their own Eros, to be in the moment and not in the expectation, well, that is so bloody bleeding hard.
Our potential partner pool is tiny, and many of those people are also trying to move beyond the scars that stigma & marginalization wrote on their life.
How do we leave the sickness and find a way to be intimate in Eros and possibility, creating new what can be, not in desperation and an attempt to create what we think should be? I don’t know.
A friend once told me that she understood why no one desired someone like me. “How could they desire someone like you when they have never met anyone like you?”
Isn’t it possible that some people are ready to to pursue an image in their mind, not to desire a type, but be open to the power, quirkiness and beauty that is in front of them?
It’s possible, yes, I guess, but my experience is that usually they get overwhelmed and something in their own fears comes up, something that I know they have to work out for themselves. Negotiating other people’s fears is just acting them to project and act out on me, and at my age, I don’t have the tolerance for much more of that.
All this is especially difficult for us femme-identified people. We have such tender hearts that just need to love, even as our partners find us baffling, that they can easily get even more tender with the heartache we suffer.
Blessings on you, beautiful.
And may that ember of heat remain in your heart until it is stirred into fire again.
someone asked for expansion:
In my mind, gender is a system of communication to control reproduction and child rearing. We use gender symbols to announce who we know ourselves to be and what we were trained to do. Are we a lady or a wench, a maid or a matron?
For most people, gender expression is created for attraction. We create ourselves to be attractive to others, to announce and interest. Trannies, though, we create ourselves to announce who we are, beyond the social roles and expectations, or maybe who we should be.
What’s the first question many of us get when attending a gay bar? “So, who are you here to meet anyway?”
To follow the transpath, we have to walk away from the expectations placed on our body, the expectations seeded from our genital shape, our reproductive status. That means desireshift. I remember one transperson born male who wanted to transition, and I asked about desire.
“I love women now, I will love women then,” they said.
“OK, sure. But how will you meet and connect with women? You used to put on your cool jeans and go to the singles bar to meet women, but putting on a nice dress to go to the singles bar and meet women doesn’t really work, unless you want them to see you as a man in a dress. Will you be a lesbian? Do you know the rules and traditions of lesbian dating?”
They didn’t chat with me again.
In contrast with hysterectomies/vasectomies, It’s not the fact of fertility that changes with GRS, or at least not the fact of fertility that most people want to change. An infertile man is still a man, trained and functional as a man in the system of gender. But a person born male with GRS most probably wants to be seen and related to as a woman, without the lifelong training and with not quite the requisite parts.
The system of desire starts early based not on actual fertility, but on the expectations of ferility that genital configuration confers. A infant girl will be a mommy someday, showered with dolls and weighed down with the expectations of continuing the line. She is trained, and if after sexual maturity she turns out to be less than fertile for whatever reason, sexual orientation or biological fact or whatever, there is mourning to be done, by her and by her family.
To gendershift is to desireshift, to leave our inherited place in the system of desire and then to attempt to create a new place. without clear training or clear bilogy.
Some MTF trannies do it simply, finding a straight man, but worry that their partner will find out their secret, some hold tight to the assigned role, like SSS members who need to claim a man is always a man, no matter what she does, some work to find new, honest ways to create intimacy and commitment.
But gendershift always requires desireshift, somehow. And the fact that desireshift doesn’t always work well is the basis of that old advice that you need to be willing to move beyond sexual attractiveness if you want to committ to your own expression, if you want to move beyond assigned roles and bodies to recreated roles and recreated bodies.
Or at least that’s the way I understand it.