Transgender 201: Being Attractive Is Not Enough

While having a first time face-to-face meeting with a fellow transwoman in a local cafe, our friendly conversation was interrupted by a 20-something guy who thought I was someone he knew. However, her and I entertained him as we rarely have moments like these. He talked our faces off upwards of an hour about big, intellectual ideas centered around psychology and humanity that genuinely interested me. He then kindly asked us for our numbers, of which she declined while I casually offered it up as I tend to do in an playful act that has become something of a personal social experiment I’ve been unofficially collecting data on.

The next day, he pretty much asked me out on a date via txt which honestly surprised me. On my way to work that day, I saw he was attempting to “friend” me on Facebook. I accepted his request and left it at that. Hours later, after clearly going through my Profile Photos, he messages me with the one of the most transphobic one-liners you could ever say to someone. While on the job, I broke out laughing & immediately sent a txt to the friend who was with me yesterday that the inevitable had happened. My brief exchange with the guy inspired this Tumblr post of which he was guilty of doing all but one. Feel free to guess which one in the comments.

Yes, he was relatively attractive. Yes, I would have given him a chance. Yes, I did not feel the need to reveal that I am a transwoman right out the door. Yes, I would have eventually told him if he had found something beyond my looks and initial actress charisma to desire more of.

Figures my first hands-on instance of transphobia & bigotry would be with a person who I had just met. No, I am not wrong for refusing to over-share in an effort to give myself a chance to be seen as the woman I am. Despite my seemingly jovial response, I am the victim. Not him.

Why am I posting this? Because it’s important to highlight my experience to the friends who think me having low expectations about ever obtaining a long-standing relationships is grossly unnecessary and misguided on the basis that I’m arguably an attractive black woman. To the masses who think transgender people are actively being deceptive by either going “stealth” or giving someone a chance to know them as a person in an effort to trick someone into a relationship.

On the contrary, we are protecting ourselves from gender discrimination, psychological harm, and, for those with less of a thick skin than me, losing hope in our existence. Case in point, according to the latest data compiled from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 39%  of respondents “experienced serious psychological distress in the month prior to completing the survey compared with only 5% of the U.S. population”. 40% of respondents “have attempted suicide in their lifetime — nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).” My particular instance is centered around relationships, but is hardly the most prevalent of reasons so many of us would rather continue living a lie or be “stealth” due to the stigma of simply being honest with ourselves. Worse, deny ourselves of being alive any longer.

This is not a joke and people on the outside don’t seem to get it. To be told “ohhh you’re attractive – there are people out there who totally would jump your bones” is downplaying a very real struggle that they will never have to navigate. Being told this by people who are either already spoken for on the long-term or have already ruled them out is even more demoralizing regardless of a strong will to endure.

I have not nor will not hide who I am in the interest of finding a mate. The moment I chose to continue pursuing a career in entertainment, I relinquished this and embraced my past for myself so no one would have ammo to dehumanize me. However, this is a very real thing that people do and likely have done to me multiple times in silence after me giving them my name for them to google at will. In this case, even after I sent them an open offer for candid discussion, he chose to remain silent. I’ve given people my name and number more times than you might believe, and the result, thus far, has been the same [among cis males].

For a final bit of insight, this instance of being asked to hang out one-on-one at a later date is the furthest I’ve ever gotten with a completely new person that I was truly interested in AND who showed a genuine interest in me after just an hour of conversation. This was also the first time I actually thought, “He’s quirky, incredibly smart, and hungry for knowledge; maybe he could be different...” For a moment, there was a semblance of hope…

I intended to unfriend him if he remained unresponsive to my offer for “open candid discussion” all weekend.

He had beaten me to it.

For more valuable insight & statistical facts pooled from over 20,000+ respondents (including myself), download the full report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. And, as always, thank you for reading.

Saving myself for no one

The concept of sexual intimacy is not lost on you or me. However, somewhere along the line – growing up in a Christian household, trying to be a good, heterosexual boyfriend to the few girls who gave me a chance, my admittance of being of an agnostic, free-thinking perspective, and embracing my identity as a pansexual transwoman – I lost sight of what I should and should not deserve. Rather, I never had much of a chance to really explore the idea of engaging in sexual intimacy. For specific reasons, I just accepted that my time had not come.

My long-standing belief has been that one should reserve sexual intimacy for the person they have committed themselves to in a monogamous, romantic relationship. I have since realized that this line of thinking has been the last bastion of traditional, Christian-centric thought that had somehow survived through everything that had drastically shifted in my lifestyle. The idea had been deeply engrained into me, despite being “born male”, and the shame of contradicting this thinking loomed near whenever temptation arose. My parents being religious & fairly traditional led me to put my own romanticized take on it, believing that if I remained patient & virtuous, one day I would be able to entrust my body to the person I believed was “the one.”

I recently read a novel that turned me on (pun intended) to the very common practice of two characters meeting one another. After their initial meeting, both of them recognized their instinctual attraction to one another over time with each chance interaction feeding the heat between them. Eventually, one makes a move and the other is equally overcome with ferocious passion. For some reason, the timing in which I was exposed to that story – right around when I turned thirty – caused me to have an alternative perspective. Prior to turning thirty, I would have asked “who could possibly jump into bed with someone who clearly had no romantic intentions to remain faithful to them”? However, in the face of physical aging, sparse intimacy over my lifetime, and the high level of self-love I had cultivated as the woman I was born to be, what I read now appeared almost natural and sensible as my former mindset seemed almost something an insane, brainwashed prude would do.

#1: I can be shallow as fuck about looks.

#2: I am light-years from being a “prude”.

“Turning 30” has been a recurring theme in this blog as of late and sexual expression is not excluded from it. As I often do, I wondered why only I had to be the one sexually frustrated, swearing off intimacy just because “the one” hadn’t come along. I could count on one hand how many times I had believed I would marry someone. This romanticized notion of keeping myself “pure” for “my first time” when I was already perverted, unabashedly playful in my sexuality, and near legitimately considered a succubus among my close friends rapidly became outdated through rigorous self-assessment.

Being met with my cold logic quickly turned to frustration. I was three weeks into being 30 and had yet to experience unrestrained intimacy followed by sharing a bed with my partner. Like an ignorant, virgin teenager, I was still wondering how people [read: my friends] have sex and if there were any steps to follow for a successful romp. And then I was smacked in the face with the truth: This was all my own doing. I repeatedly declined the idea simply because no romantic commitment would follow when there were multiple instances where sex likely would have been welcomed.

Another hard truth washed over me: The combination of my past upbringing and now my present life as a transwoman had somehow made me believe by default I should never feel safe experiencing sexual intimacy other than with someone who had confessed their love for me. An amalgamation of anger and sadness careened through my body. There had to be a way to rewrite this automated preset equation that I had left unchecked in the midst of my gender transition.

I want to be a good woman.

Only sluts sleep around.

How do you take love out of sex? I’m so clingy. I’d fall in love with them and get hurt.

Will I ever be loved?

But…

…why I should starve myself.

I’m desirable. Beautiful. Lovable.

If sex with someone I trust could make sense…

Experiencing intimacy with someone I feel comfortable with isn’t shameful.

Yes, I want to be loved. Sex doesn’t equal love. It never has.

I won’t be young forever. Live your life. 

Fuck who you want.

So I did.

A Transwoman’s Respect For Her Father

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Gendo Ikari meme created by Ren

My father and I have always had a unique kind of relationship. One driven by our individual aspirations and spiritual/philosophical insights. In my youth, he endeavored to imbue me with as much knowledge of “family” and “being a man” as he could. In college years after my parents divorced, we would often be cheering each other on towards achieving our goals in life. I know he did his very best to be a good father, and after learning why he left my mother I don’t fault him for making that choice.

In truth, more times than not, his good intentions for me weren’t always the best. He often assumed that I needed advice when I rarely did and I would counter his advice with what I’m already doing to keep everything in balance for my life. In reality, I probably learned how to debate and play “devil’s advocate” because of the intensity of our discussions at times. All I really wanted was for him to hear me and not believe that somehow my thinking was flawed due to my age, but that seemed nearly impossible. Even still I took away that he always said that he would be here for me.

When it comes down to it, he is someone that believes he always in the right and will rarely accept anything beyond his own Christian beliefs. More times than not, I only took bits and pieces away from our discussion while he probably took nothing of what I had to say. He is a mix of old school and new school influences, except he hasn’t taken the time to grasp the extent of how much times have changed. Relying on the past to counter my forward thinking only results in us butting heads – I understood him, yet he didn’t understand me. At least, we were still talking.

So when he found out via Facebook with the rest of my 300+ “friends” that I was transgender which resulted in him not speaking to me for three months, I could have felt betrayed. Instead, he became a hypocrite in my eyes. When he finally called me, I laid into him and, by doing so, opened up a dialogue for potential understanding of what he was trying to cope with. Over that conversation and the next, his willingness to accept me at the base level seemed like he would come around in time.

Our next conversation was a complete 180. He was no longer listening to me and began doing what he did before – using his past experience to vilify my present lived experience which he couldn’t possibly comprehend without living my life firsthand. I go into more detail in this post, but overall it was a table-flipped mess that I had no desire to salvage.

I haven’t spoken to or interacted with my father since that conversation eight months ago.

So, besides my opening paragraph, what positive things could I say about him on this Father’s Day? A few things actually. Every year, I always remember the advice he gave to me as a young child while playing a fighting game.

Always stay on your opponent. Corner them until they can’t do anything but accept defeat.

This advice I have applied into every aspect of my life. My resilience and resolute attitude to learn and lead have served me well and continue to evolve as I take on more life-altering challenges. I don’t know the meaning of “give up” and I’m very grateful for that as a pillar in my personality.

As for something more recent, despite him tearing down the foundation of our relationship as who I am now, that exhausting conversation eight months ago opened my eyes to how much I had unconsciously disregarded my blackness and history. As a black woman, I see so much value in my race now than ever before. There is power in not allowing myself to fold under society’s perspective of being a minority. In loving myself more and more each day, my Black heritage is now something I carry with pride. The idea of being a “strong black woman who don’t need no man”, oddly enough, is pretty accurate to me these days. 🙂

Even though I’ve lost what seems like my entire father’s side of the family to “old school” thinking and lack of education of transgender matters, I don’t hate him. I did enough of that as a teenager. As an adult, I accept him and his inability to adapt and respect me just as I have done with my mother. All that matters now is that he can be a father figure to those in his life who value him. I will continue to thank and respect my father for the good he has given me and continue to move forward, regardless of him ironically (and almost hypocritically) distancing himself from the child he worked so hard to be close to all those years.