I Don’t Wanna Be In Love

Dating is the worst, y’all. Not just in the general sense, but as an ace person, I’m getting hella tired of sorting through people who will actually respect my orientation versus people who think if they hang in there long enough I’ll magically change orientations. You know, time + affection = suddenly allosexual.

I was talking with an ex about how things might have gone (we broke up for emotional space reasons, not sex related reasons. Grieving makes romance hard) and he mentioned how if we’d gotten to that point in our relationship where we were close enough for him to want to be sexual with me, that might have been an ending point in our relationship. On the one hand, I really want people to be open about their needs and not bury them deep down in order to make a relationship work. I get that sex is important for some people, and wouldn’t want to put someone in a position where they can’t feel fulfilled…it just really sucks to think that even with everything else I put into a relationship, someone could be feel like it’s not enough without sex.

I know, it’s a little self centered. I just have had really great chemistry with people before, and we’ve otherwise been madly in love, but the sex thing is such a deal-breaker. It makes me wish sometimes that I wasn’t this way, as much as I’m fine with this aspect of myself. I’ve tried doing it anyways, even though it’s not something I enjoy. Let me tell you, most people can tell when your brain is elsewhere during that kind of thing.

Even in my current dating life (I’m dating someone who’s poly) I still worry about getting romantically entangled, because for a lot of allosexual people sex still does mean love. And while a lot of them can intellectually agree that love is not worth more or less just because sexual feelings are not attached, a lot more of them have a hard time feeling that in a romantic relationship.

Even though I’m indifferent, I often feel like I’m being dishonest trying out sex with people, because I don’t feel that attraction, and it feels like I’m pretending to feel that. I don’t know, how do other ace people feel about this topic? Have you ever tried being sexual to keep a relationship together? Did you like it? Just feel meh about it?

Advertisements

Six steps to make sure you NEVER have any Non-binary friends:

Are you the kind of person who wants to be able to easily sort your friends into guy or girl categories? Do you accept trans people, but only if they come in genders you approve? Are you that guy who stares openly at people in public in order to determine if they’re a guy or a girl?

Well, I’m here today to make sure your friend circle stays as un-diverse as possible. Because why get a confusing bunch of friends when you can follow these simple steps to make sure that non-binary people know you won’t be a supportive friend?

  1. Use terms like “men and women” or “both genders”; this makes it clear that you consider gender to only come in two flavors, which will stop any non-binary person from assuming you’d even know their gender exists. This is especially effective if you use these kinds of terms in circumstances where you really don’t need to. For instance, at a social event, instead of saying simply “welcome” or “welcome everyone” say “welcome ladies and gentlemen!”
  2. If you ever talk about transgender people and transitions, make sure to make a point of discussing it as a point A to point B phenomenon. Bonus points if you refer to other trans people as “used to be a girl/boy” or reference their surgeries as the point when they “became a girl/boy.” This shows non-binary people that you’re more focused on outward appearances and birth sex than how the other person identifies.
  3. Refuse to use neutral pronouns. Sure, you’d use they/them in a singular instance if you didn’t know someone’s gender, but using them all the time for someone whose gender you do know is exhausting. Besides, what better way to remind your non-binary acquaintance that you’d be a terrible friend than calling them by whatever pronouns you think most match their appearance? Bonus points if you make their pronouns about you and how you can’t perceive them as a neutral gender.
  4. Ask them about their genital status; if your ignorance on the difference between sex and gender wasn’t apparent before, asking a near stranger if they’re intersex will shine the brightest of spotlights on it. Disclaimer: this action may cause the incidental loss of intersex friends. Proceed with caution.
  5. Definitely nitpick anything your non-binary acquaintance does that isn’t androgynous. Do they want to get pregnant? Well, that’s a lady thing, and they shouldn’t be engaging in it if they want to be seen as neutral. Did they grow a beard? Well, how do they expect people to know they’re NB if they do something like that? The more unsolicited your opinion is, the better.
  6. Finally, use the word “transtrender” liberally. Apply it to anyone you think isn’t performing gender correctly while identifying as trans. This doesn’t just have to be NB people, you can direct it at feminine trans men, masculine trans ladies, drag queens, and de-transitioners. Just make sure your social circle knows you use this term to denounce anyone who doesn’t meet your standards.

Well, those are the steps I know of that have sent me running for the hills. What about you guys? Any solid suggestions?

5 Things When You “Used to be Lesbians” and Now He’s a Dude

When you’re involved in the trans community, as a transgender person or an ally, it’s bound to happen eventually; you date someone who changes genders after your relationship is over. I had a weird track record of doing this before I came out myself (the running joke was that if you dated me, you’d turn out transgender.)

Now, I know some people take it personally when a former partner transitions (one of my friends described his ex-fiance crying when he found out, even though they’d been broken up for years!) but I like to focus on some of the weirder things that come with the territory. I’ve always had a very panromantic orientation, and a relaxed attitude when it comes to gender to begin with, so when someone lets me know they’re going by another name and pronouns, it doesn’t exactly rock my world. I’m super thrilled, obviously, for this person to discover their true selves and all, it’s just happened so many times, I look at it a lot like any other life change. You know, like when your friends announce they’re getting married after dating for about five years.

Especially with former partners, I tend to notice a certain vibe about them before they do (because I purely date logic-driven Spock type people. Yeah.)

However, regardless of emotional impact, here’s a few of the interesting things I’ve noticed about dating people who have since shifted gender; in this case, I’m gonna be talking mostly about trans men and nb people, but I hope it’s all pretty familiar to other people in my boat.

1. When my exes transitioned, I got a ton of their clothes as a hand me down. This made me able to say a sentence like “I’m wearing my ex-boyfriend’s bra right now.” which cracks me up. I’ve also noticed that seeing clothes they previously treasured (an old shirt or dress?) finding a good home on someone else seems to be a good feeling for some of these guys. Maybe kind of like realizing you enjoy boobs, just on other people, not yourself?

2. One of the first discussions I’ve always had with my exes is how they want me to discuss them. Are they going stealth? Do they care if people know they’re trans, or that they identified as a lesbian at one point? Is it okay to refer to them as a girl in a story where they identified as one? The questions go on and on, and there’s no one size fits all answer. For one ex, the phrase “back when we were lesbians” was a perfect way to encapsulate our old relationship. For another ex, he wanted me to strictly refer to him as my ex boyfriend, and a man in all stories.

3. I’m lucky, and I’ve remained friends with a lot of my exes. It helps that we’ve all transitioned to some degree or another, but I think understanding and patience goes a long way. Dating someone pre-transition also feels starkly different from dating someone who is…well, being true to themselves. It’s hard to connect on a deeper level or continue a long term relationship when there’s that much going on inside someone (so I feel like that makes a break up less impactful!) I watched one ex who started out as my surly, angry girlfriend, become a much more relaxed, outgoing man once he finally realized why he felt so uncomfortable at all times. So I guess one other interesting thing about dating someone who’s transitioned is that it makes a break up and an ensuing friendship a bit…easier?

4. I’m mostly into ladies (or so I thought. I might want to re-examine that one.) but when it comes to listing my dating history, I appear to be really into dudes. Like almost exclusively. It cracks me up, because I’m not specifically seeking other trans people to date either, yet here I am, with a whole lot of transgender exes. One person accused me of chasing trans men, before I explained that all that happened pre-transition.

5. Telling stories is a bit awkward sometimes, especially if it was a lesbian centered romance. You know, you were both super proud of being lesbians and figuring out your sexuality. You were still in that “I’m NOT gonna CHANGE, Mom!!!” phase, and being a lesbian was super empowering. I don’t regret identifying as a lesbian, but obviously the label doesn’t fit me or my ex any longer. So describing that we started dating because we realized we were both ace lesbians…makes very little sense to an outsider.

Overall, I’d guess someone you loved transitioning can bring a lot of questions. Like, is this why the relationship didn’t work? Is your sexuality different than you realized? And most importantly, how do they want you to talk about them now? Outing an ex, even if they were a total anus while you dated, is pretty not cool. So, that’s my experience; anyone else experienced something similar?

 

 

Treating Former Aces Like Apostates?

“Oh yeah, I used to be asexual too. I grew out of it.”

I’m sure if you’re asexual and open about it, you’ve heard this phrase too. A few of my friends have spent a period of their lives identifying as asexual, before something changes their viewpoint. Maybe they gain an increase in libido, they transition to another gender, or sexuality (being fluid) just shifts for them. Whatever the reason, it can be hard to hear these words. It’s like an abandonment, at least it was for me when I was younger and felt like I had to prove my orientation.

Of course, most of the people I knew who said phrases like the one above weren’t trying to be dismissive of my orientation. As it turns out, not everything is all about me (I KNOW. SHOCKING.) For the people in question, the realization they weren’t ace, either anymore or ever, came at the end of a long search to find themselves. I couldn’t be happier for them to realize who they are, and as long as they don’t go around claiming that their story is everyone’s experience with asexuality, I see no reason why their experience has anything to do with mine.

In the asexual community, there is a stigma with former aces. One friend I had, who transitioned to male and discovered that he quite liked sex and seeing sexy people once he was comfortable in his skin, felt that he had to cut all ties with the asexual community after this change. He came and told me about it like he was a gay child confessing to conservative parents; it struck me that he had to feel the same kind of nervousness. Admitting to someone that you’re not who they thought you were is a big leap of trust, and I hope that I’ve been open enough to the people I love that they feel like they can confide in me. This friend in particular swore me to secrecy, like I was going to destroy their ace cred (which is totally a thing. I’m a level 100 asexual, and I have super powers.) Jokes aside, for people who have found a home in the asexual community, or have found their own value as a non-sexual person with this particular group of friends, the change in identity can be a bit of a shock.

And the way asexuals have been talking about allosexuals (this is the generally accepted term for someone who’s not asexual) on social media, who can really blame former asexuals for feeling apprehensive? I’ve found even when I openly talk about my doubts with my own asexuality, as someone who’s been a spokesperson and educator about asexuality for a LONG time, I get shut down pretty quick.

I actually saw one post that had been reblogged hundreds of times come across my feed demanding that people who aren’t sexually attracted to other people but have sex (and like it!) stop using the term asexual to describe themselves. It was shocking and sad to me, man. When I first discovered asexuality on the interwebs of the early 2000s, it was a tiny community, still deciding how to represent themselves, but the best thing about it was the openness to exploring sexuality. That, and there was a simple way to determine if you were a REAL asexual: do you identify as asexual? Congrats, you’re asexual.

This kind of identity policing needs to stop, not just because it’s mean, but because it creates a rift between former aces and current aces. What kind of group that advocates for recognition and respect for one kind of sexuality can just turn around and make others feel awful for changing? Isn’t that kind of the opposite of what we want?

 

Transness and Sexism: My Bros are a Little Misogynistic

I have like, a shit ton of guy friends. Not sure exactly why, because I’ve always considered myself better at being friends with girls, but now that I think about it, most of the “girls” I befriend end up realizing somewhere mid-friendship that they’re trans, and abruptly become my bro (which is pretty cool, because I get all their old clothes most of the time. Score.) There was a point in my life where I was actively trying to attain more girl friends, but I’ve since come to realize that I’m just drawn to masculine energy, regardless of the gender attached.

However, the downside of being non-binary and being friends with a whole lot of guys from different walks of life is that I encounter so much casual sexism directed at women. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not friends with a bunch of douchebags or something. I have pretty great taste in people, if I do say so myself. However, I’ve been in groups of trans men, where the discussion turns to how they knew they were men because they’re so brave, strong, capable of manly things, etc, etc. Having grown up an avid tomboy, I identify with these things a little bit; I wanted to play baseball, camp outside, I chopped off all my hair when I was nine, to the horror of my mother. When it comes up among trans men, though, I’m instantly reminded of all the tomboys I know. The women with unconventional interests and hobbies, with short hair or a masculine attitude; they’re still women, regardless of these “manly” habits, but they’ve faced all kind of criticism for those behaviors. Can’t women be strong, brave, sportsy, and butch without being…well, men?

Now, that might sound like a really particular, unique kind of issue, but bear with me. With the continued exposure of trans celebs, we find ourselves in a time where more and more people are learning that transgender is a thing. Which, I gotta admit, is pretty damn cool for people who might have otherwise just wondered what was “wrong” with them all their lives. However, with the prevalence of transition stories, I’ve heard more and more trans men and women start making assertions that any person who’s gender non-conforming is a trans man or woman still in denial. Butch lesbians, for instance, are often mistaken for young trans men, such as a friend of mine who’s happily female (and gay), but wears a lot of cargo shorts. I’ve seen the argument “Well, if they want to look like and behave like men so much, why don’t they just call themselves men?”

A lot of that, I know, stems from a sense of insecurity; if someone’s life journey can look so similar to a trans man’s journey, only to have them be cis, that’s got to feel a little invalidating (and it brings up the argument that if that person is content in being a masculine woman, why couldn’t this trans man be that content? Why did he have to get surgeries, change his name, or lose friends and family? Why endure all of that hardship?) And it also brings up a bit of visual confusion; I’m sure we all try not to stereotype, but it’s always a bit exciting when you think you see someone who’s also trans. I always get super excited to meet new trans people, just because it’s a unique struggle and it’s the fucking best to know someone who shares some of that experience. I’ve also made the blunder of assuming someone is trans (This is that moment where I should kick young me and remind them to ASK pronouns before assuming!) But the beauty of having such an array of gender presentations and roles is that we don’t have to personally understand someone’s journey, and we certainly don’t have to match up with anyone else.

When these kinds of discussions happen, I’m generally the only non-man in the room, however, so it puts me in an interesting spot. People generally expect me to stay neutral, since I’m neither, but I’m pretty quick to jump in. Normally with some snide remark like “aw shit, I like those things, am I a man now?” which serves as a pretty good reality check for the dudes I hang out with. However, in the wrong company, I find myself shoehorned into being a women’s advocate, a role I would normally enjoy, but it comes at the cost of my own gender. There’s just this idea that since they’re men, they’re even further away from being women than I am, so I’m the next best thing to discuss women with. Again, mildly awkward, but generally, I’ll bite.

It comes down to something like this: are we defining our genders by the things we do and the things we like? As a trans man, are you taking a toxic idea, like science being a male pursuit, and using it to “prove” your manliness? That you were secretly a dude all along? Does your high school “phase” of being a baby butch lesbian make you assume that other butch lesbians are just on their way to realizing their “real” gender?

Basically, what it comes down to, is that a lot of trans men seek to transition without challenging any of the restrictive gender roles that they hated growing up. And that’s totally normal, because it takes a lot of introspection to realize that you’re doing that (I had to question myself on that front when I started identifying as NB) and it doesn’t make anyone a bad person. It’s so easy to fall into that way of thinking, especially when so many people challenge your gender as a trans person. I just hope transgender becomes something as boring as describing yourself as a pisces. You know, like “Okay, that’s nice Gregg, but that’s some pretty useless information because I don’t care about that stuff.” That way, no one will have to feel like they have to cling to a certain role to prove themselves. Oh, and then I can enjoy my gaggle of guy friends without having to call out sexism so much. Maybe.

 

 

Three Things That Happen When You Leave The Quiverfull Community to be “A Gay.”

Many people might not know this, but I was raised quiverfull. Probably wondering what that means, right? In short, it basically means that a family is radically pro-life in the name of Christianity. It’s a concept that has spread through many English speaking countries, and through many different branches of Christianity, but the main idea is that any attempt at contraception is refusing the “gift” of a child. Vyckie at No Longer Quivering has a much more complete explanation, if the concept interests you.

What this meant for my childhood was first, that I had six siblings. Being one of seven children on a single income (because if our mother worked, she’d be disrespecting our father) was its own struggle, but one of the worst parts was that there was a huge focus on continuing the family line. As one of the oldests, I was expected to court and marry when the time came. Obviously I didn’t do that.

Instead, I wandered off to college and shaved off all my hair. I didn’t really officially come out, I just started coming home less and less. When I was officially out, however, here are a few of the things I noticed right away.

  1. News spreads super quick through the community. I wasn’t a lesbian, but that’s what was conveyed, because anything beyond that was a little too complicated for our sheltered community. I remember first hand how it worked when the eldest son of another family came out as gay a few years prior; my mother baked his mother a casserole, which is something our community did in the event of a tragedy or illness. I can only assume my mother got her own share of casseroles when I was out. Anyways, facebook friends started melting away, and families stopped including me on their annual Christmas cards. I got a few offers to pray away the gay, but after a while, people just left me alone. I was lucky, since I had already surrounded myself with a new community of accepting people at college, but I can only imagine how difficult this would have been had I still actively been a part of that community.
  2. It feels like a weight off your shoulders, to finally stop being seen as a prospective bride. Now that no one wanted to marry someone branded queer, my parents stopped trying to help me be a better wife. Granted, they assumed I was throwing away my life, but it gave me the freedom to run off and do as I pleased. I moved across the country with my best friend, whom my parents still think I’m definitely having sex with, because he’s a man. But like ripping off a band-aid, now that I’ve completely disappointed them by being queer, their judgement of my living situation doesn’t even bother me.
  3. People from the community start to show you who they really are. There are so many conservative people I grew up with who reached out to me with compassion. Not “I’ll help you pray this away” compassion, but “I don’t understand what you’re doing, but know that I still love you” compassion. This small group of conservatives with big hearts redeemed Christianity in my eyes; for over seven years, I had felt I couldn’t believe in God, couldn’t participate in a church, and it was just too painful to consider living in a way that was being untrue about who I really was. Now, I may have left the church my parents and friends are in, but these friends have taught me how to embrace faith again. I’m currently exploring other churches to find one where I can be at peace.

Overall, my journey from closeted quiverfull child to who I am now has been tumultuous and speckled with moments of sorrow and joy. I am grateful to be where I am and who I am today, even if it wasn’t always a pleasant journey.

What’s So Funny About Being Intersex?

“The Emperor has no balls,” reads the plaque at the foot of an artistic installation manufactured by the anarchist art collective INDECLINE. This is the same group that claimed to create the world’s biggest illegal graffiti and more recently a “Rape Trump” mural in response to his calling Mexicans rapists. This most recent piece features a lot more nudity, however, depicting Donald Trump naked, veiny, fat, and most notably, with a testicle-less micropenis. (If you reeaally wanna see it, here’s a link. Gross.)

Now, I dislike Donald Trump as much as the next guy. Maybe even more (I’m competitive like that.) However, when I saw this statue, I didn’t get the kind of schadenfreude that many others apparently experienced. This isn’t the first time Trump’s been depicted with a micropenis; in fact, back in the Spring, a painting surfaced with a similar physical representation, though the painter in question had a more body positive message to share. (Again, nudity, but if you want to see it, here’s an article with the artist that features the art in question.) Most of the time, when it comes to implying someone’s manhood is “lacking” people are slightly more subtle than this, but it begs the question: what’s going on with this repeating trend of depicting a rather disgusting man with this kind of body, and why do we find it so amusing?

When I look at this body, displayed as something to be consumed with derision, I can see the body of people I’ve loved and cared about. There are many, many intersex people in the United States (a little bit of info on that) and still many more people who are men and lack testicles. I can’t point and laugh at a man whom I find absolutely contemptible, purely because he is being depicted with genital “abnormalities” without also laughing at these other people. Considering how many other terrible things there are to mock about Trump, why must we be so obsessed with genitals?

The people who I have known who are intersex have had enough people obsessed with their genitals. From personal examples, like my best friend in college, whose partner started telling people she was dating a “hermaphrodite” as soon as he shared it with her (completely violating his privacy), to more broad examples, like the huge number of infants who still face “corrective” surgery, despite many patients going on to have sterility, loss of sensation, and a rejection of the sex assigned to them via surgery. It blows my mind that anyone could see the kind of suffering many intersex people have suffered on account of their genitalia, and still see portraying someone with an intersex condition as funny.

Trump is an awful human being; he is racist, sexist, vulgar, and especially contradictory. His huge ego is ridiculous in its own right. And really, in actuality, he’d likely be first in line to mock an actual intersex person. So why do we need to throw another group under the bus in order to mock him?