Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gender and Me: A (Kind of Sad) Love Story

Let’s start with Amy. She has approved this message and knows every detail of this conversation with myself. I know I’m not winning any wife of the year awards here. Suffice it to say, she has her own charms. I’m pretty sure this story doesn’t end in divorce. I’m so very grateful to her for giving me the space to work this whole thing through.

One of my resolutions this month is “Be less lonely,” which is so bewildering that it might as well be a Zen question, but I know I have to take apart the things that have caused me to isolate myself. Mindy Nettifee says “There are some things you can’t write yourself out of,” but I don’t know any other way. I feel like I’ve written parts of this story a million times. Readers of my good ol’ friends-locked LJ posts, feel free to sing along, you know some of the words.

The story starts, as they all do, with a cute guy. Moseph came into my life exactly when I needed him. I was drowning in self-hate (blah blah, homophobic workplace, blah blah, white-lady issues, etc.) and here was this rockabilly angel who worked at the bookstore, (I probably shouldn’t call people angels.) FTM guy one minute, butch girl the next, letting everyone choose their own pronouns for him. He put his number in my phone and we started texting all the time about how we get crushes—a recipe for trouble if there ever was one. I used to fantasize about him walking me home from work- a modest wish that didn’t come true.

Something in the way he looked at me made me feel recognized, beautiful, like being wanted by a man might not be so impossible after all. Like I could be myself.

The last time we spent time together,last July, his band was playing at my apartment. As a surprise, he’d added Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi to the band’s repertoire. He wore a wig decorated with cupcakes, a shiny leotard, and gold Spanx. Singing along to that song was a serotonin factory in and of itself and after that I was absolutely devastated with desire for him. Somehow, we never hung out after that. Probably because depression made me really, really not awesome at being a new friend.

Moseph’s cross-cross dressing was a dream within a dream, the Inception of crushes, sending all of my rigid structures about gender crumbling into the sea. As I’m writing this, I realizing that “bisexual” is not quite accurate for me, that maybe polyamorous can be an identity as well as a logistical decision. It takes me a while to figure things out sometimes.

I have him to thank for awakening my particular attraction to trans guys, which takes me a good distance toward being comfortable in my own skin. (On a good day it seems like that. On a bad day it seems like just more guy friends to scare off with over-flirting.

He also made me realize that I like gender.

Marriage can have an isolating effect when it comes to progress, even in the most progressive of households. I feel like I’ve spent my whole adult life avoiding gender. In the Nineties, it was very popular for a bi person to say, “It doesn’t matter what gender someone is, I fall in love with souls.” Looking at that statement now, it seems like a way of neutering myself, of trying to be more acceptable to the straight world. It also reminds me of the way I try to make myself safer to be around by spiritualizing attractions into “Muse” relationships.

So here it is: I like the feeling of being a woman in relation to a man. I like the game of gender, the tropes. (Well, not all of them.) I have an impossible time giving up control but I would really love to meet the guy who could get me there. But safely. Because I am terrified.

Amy asked me why identifying as femme (I mean, duh, right?) isn’t the same as saying “I feel straight right now.” And that made me realize that at no point do I ever feel straight. My whole self is always there.

Underneath it all is the fear that there is something about me that makes me undesirable, unlovable to men. If there’s no man in the world for me, I can’t change that, but I’d like to find a way to be kinder to myself about it. I don’t want it to be a joke anymore. I want to find a way to honor the part of me, to LOVE the things about myself I’ve been fighting and hating for so long, to admit that, yes, I want him to see me, and know me, and love me. That’s all.


  1. Oh, hon. This is such hard work. You give everyone inspiration. ox T.

  2. You are one of the strongest people I know. This is inspiring and challenging in many ways.

    Much love to you.