This installment of my interview response blog has the added benefit of me having a buzz. It probably bears saying, that my perspective should not be seen as speaking for every person’s experiences.
Do you feel that with the openness of polyamory, a definition of your gender “status” isn’t an issue when dating?
I feel like both polyamory and transgenderism limit my options in terms of whom I can date. With each niche thing a person finds themselves a part of, more and more options are closed to them. In my case, I would say that my demographic narrowing runs in this order from most to least profound.
Lesbian, transgender, poly, scheduling conflicts,distance, being a parent, falling in love too easily, no college degree or career, age difference is too great, not vegan enough, too curvy, and not religiously or politically aligned (though being an atheistic liberal does yield many more open doors than other possible configurations.)
It is likely that people being accepting of one minority status are, perhaps, more likely to accept others, but there is also the notion that a person can have too many caveats to be a good candidate. I think I generally fall into that category.
How do you deal with what is essentially a loss of privacy, when people expect you to discuss topics like your genitalia?
In a general sense, I see myself as being in a position to educate others about transgender people. It is certainly a conflict with what might otherwise be my privacy, or even my dignity. I know, though, that plenty of people have (often ill-informed) questions, and I would rather be the one to field them than to A: let the questions go to transpeople who are less inclined to be probed in this way, or B: let the questions remain unanswered, contributing to ongoing issues with an ignorant general population.
In terms of dating, questions of anatomy and surgical status would seem to center around two issues. The first one is “Can I actually see this person as the gender they intend to present?” The second is “Do I feel able to sexually gratify this person?” I sincerely hope that I live to see a day when the first question is really a non-issue for almost everyone. As a culture, we are learning about what gender actually is, and that will change the dialogue that transgender people get to have about their lives, especially where romantic relationships are concerned.
In terms of wondering how sex will work with a transgender person, everyone should be having a discussion of sexual likes and dislikes with a potential or current partner. There is certainly a way to handle this sensitively, without making someone feel that they are odd. If any of you find yourselves preparing to engage in such a conversation with a transgender person, be cognizant of the idea that people typically prefer to feel accepted as what they seem to be. It is certainly not necessary to remind someone of their status… believe me, they know.
In simpler terms, it’s better to say “Please tell me how you like to be touched.” than it is to say “What am I supposed to do with your (name of mis-asigned genitals of one kind or another)?”
Here is a hang-up which I do not have a good answer for: I do not know how to tell you to get really specific with your informed consent and also not rub somebody’s face in their gender dysphoria. (the feeling of unhappiness with one’s assigned gender) For me, I prefer that someone not use anatomical terms, or their corresponding slangs. Some alternatives might include asking “May I touch you?” while running your fingers just beneath your partner’s waistband, or underneath their hemline. You can also use phrases like “Touch you all over,” “Touch you here.” Touch is easily replaced by taste when appropriate 😉 I can go on… “I want to please you.” “I want you to cum for me.” …See, there’s lots of ways to not say “cock” and “pussy.” -I should keyword those and see if my readership increases 😉
What are some common misconceptions about transpeople that you’d like to set straight.
I think some things get covered in my post “Serialnonconformist’s Transgender Media Stylebook.”
Outside of those, I think it’s important to simply trust a person to know who and what they are. If someone tells you a name or pronoun preference that is unexpected based on your preconceived notions, trust them to be the expert.
I included a couple of links that parallel this debunking theme at the end of this post.
Outside of its definition in the dictionary, what does the word “gender” mean to you?
I think what’s important to remember about gender is that it is a societal construct that varies by culture and over time. Gender is not experienced by the body, as it is entirely a matter of the “self” that is only observable within the mind of the individual. How a person wants to be identified and treated is informed by this truth of self. The ignorant often ask why, if saying one is a toaster doesn’t make it so, how can saying one is anything other than the sex they were assigned at birth be so? This is really just a variant on the homosexuality=bestiality=incest=objectophilia argument.
The truth is, as far as one can tell (and there is compelling and solid research on this) there are brains configured for life as a female, and those configured for life as a male… and, presumably, brains for which neither gender is a fit. As it happens, these brain systems develop separately from reproductive anatomy in-utero. Occasionally these processes disagree on which sort of person is being developed, and a transgender individual is the result. Thinking of a transgender person as being physically malformed is probably as close as I can get to explaining the reality of it. So, we can think of a transgender person as being someone who, through accident of birth, inhabits a body which is incongruous with their identity.
Here are the links I promised:
I love you all