Hello Ladles and Germs,
Today we’re going to talk about transphobia and sexual orientation and how they’re not the same thing. Ever. No matter what.
I’ll start with a Relatable Story. When I was around 12-13 years old, I had a crush on a boy. I really big crush. We’re talking diary We were friends and I liked his personality. This was my first full-blown, pubertal crush on a real-life boy who wasn’t an actor or a fictional character. He picked me up once, bridal-style, for just a minute, and I remember how much I didn’t want him to put me down.
He also happened to be gay. So a teen romance wasn’t in the cards. I knew that, but the crush happened anyway because these things aren’t rational, especially in children. It started out as “I wish he liked girls” pining and ended up as “If only I were a boy”. If only I were a boy, he would fall in love with me and… well, I wasn’t sure what happened after that. All I knew was that it would be perfect. Because Love. I can’t overstate how infatuated little-me was with this boy. I thought he was the only one for me. But I wasn’t a boy, so my True Love would never love me. I wasn’t a boy, so I was unloveable. I wasn’t a boy, so I was destined to be… alone.
Dude! That’s a TERRIFYING thing for a 13 year old to think!
Another interesting piece of information about me: I felt intense shame about having romantic feelings. Not just embarrassment, but severe anxiety. I don’t know the reason, but I suspect it’s not anything nice. So I kept my feelings to myself, meanwhile dealing with other ordinary adolescent problems and some not so ordinary ones. (I have a high ACES score.) There wasn’t really anyone around who I would have felt comfortable talking with- not about love or sexuality or “gender”. That’s a big deal! It’s probably something that should have been discussed in my pre-transition therapy, but it wasn’t.
Once my mixture of feelings had coalesced into the big, bad Sex Dysphoria that we all know and love, my brain rewrote this story to fit the narrative- to make some sense of it all. I was attracted to a gay boy because I was actually a gay boy too- I just… didn’t look like one. I had felt somehow “different” from my peers for a long time. I didn’t quite relate to my idea of a heterosexual girl, to what I saw in many of the girls around me. Maybe this was why! I mean, for a long time, even after starting to experiment, I didn’t realize females had vaginas- no, I mean the actual literal organ. I thought it was just the outer parts and then BAM- uterus. I had no idea that penetrative sex existed. I thought rubbing together was The Thing To Do. Clearly this meant that my body map was wrong, since I hadn’t managed to find that part of my body on my own.I’m going to be kind to myself here and say that I don’t blame myself for making the mistake of thinking I was a gay boy. I was in a bad environment and was not well.
Anyhow, this is all to say that the problem was never sex-based attraction. Sexuality isn’t transphobic. (No, not even that person who called your reproductive system icky. That’s a personality problem, not a sexuality problem lol.) The problem was with my perception. As with “male” and “female”, I was overcomplicating the words “heterosexual” and “homosexual”. They weren’t just words to describe something about people, they had certain connotations to them. When I identified as a trans man, it hurt knowing that the people who I regarded as “like me” would most likely not be interested in me in a romantic way, and it’s obvious to me now why it hurt so much. These feelings were old, festering wounds.
De-fanging words- concepts even- stripping them of all but their most basic meaning, has been comforting and necessary. Homosexual males not being attracted to females doesn’t need to hurt. Gay men go from “gay men who will never love me because my body is disgusting and wrong” to “uninterested people”. No need for more information because when it comes right down to it, that’s all that matters. Straight men go from “straight men who like the disgusting body I’d love to escape” to “people who might be interested”. Shockingly, there are bi/heterosexual males who actually LIKE androgynous or masculine females! Boyish women. And there are women who like willowy bald men with zero body hair and glasses. (It might be me.) Because men and women aren’t that different- it’s literally just your reproductive business. And if someone isn’t interested in your reproductive business, that’s fine, because someone else probably is.
The hard part is finding someone who likes your stunning personality. 😉