Monday, 6 August 2012

"I've never been a lesbian before..."

    The best way to broach a rather awkward question is to just come out with it. As I find myself sliding ever closer to the cliff edge and as my wife is now of the view that she'd rather live with an ungainly girl than a depressed bloke, I've been thinking about it. Life, that is. After.
    In my day-to-day life as I write this I am a bloke on the outside. I have always been that bloke on the outside. Like millions of other blokes I did what I was expected to. I fancy women, so as a heterosexual bloke I just fit right in. One doesn't define oneself as heterosexual, one just gets on with it.
    But what if I am swept over that cliff edge? If my wife does not find living with the ungainly girl to be too much for her, suddenly we're a same-sex couple. From being invisible, suddenly we're defined by that word. Lesbians. Putting aside for a moment my being transgender, that is. I've come to terms with redefinition, but for my wife that's likely to be rather challenging.
    Hence my asking a friend: what's it like to be lesbian? Now that's  an odd question, and one that could have many senses. In my case I was asking what it is like to be a same-sex couple, in public in the UK of 2012. Do people give you any grief, or are you part of the scenery?
    Fortunately the nature of the relationship between us is such that I can ask such a question of my friend and she knows me well enough to understand why I am doing so. And her answer was reassuring, she and her partner just get on with their lives. She described once having a yob shout "Dyke!" at her, but otherwise had few worries to report. And I thought "Dyke" was a reappropriated word, most of the lesbians I have known have enthusiastically described themselves as such.
    But there's a problem with self-definition here. On a simple level two women in a same-sex relationship  are lesbians. But on a personal level to be a lesbian you have to see yourself as such, and that's quite a leap for two people who have never been lesbians before.

15 comments:

  1. maybe that'll come with time. Labels are black and white, and I have been reluctant to assert my own identities, but as time goes on and my former self recedes into the far distance, it becomes easier to the point of unthinkingness to inhabit a female-identified space. Just be, and let the labels catch you up if they can. Good luck.

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  2. Being a little way down that road ourselves, I think the key is not worrying too much about the labels, worry more about each other.

    If anything, rather than hetro or gay, lesbian or whatever, I'ld describe my sexuality as monogamous.

    I wish you well: there is a way through.

    HTH

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  3. I have to address that question from the point of view of a Christian, simply because I am one. I am not trying to influence anyone with my views but as I see it (as a Christian) some people are born with homosexual/lesbian feelings and it isn't this fact that makes it wrong in the eyes of God, it's taking action and indulging in sexual activities as such. Now then Jenny you have lived your life as a heterosexual male but have issues with your gender identity in that you consider yourself as a female. As you are physically male it isn't surprising that you have intimate relationships with your wife, that part is a fact of nature or design. So far you have resisted a physical transition which subsequently maintains the status-quo but if you went through with a (complete) transition you would then become a lesbian in the physical sense if you continued with a sexual relationship with your wife. It gets complicated doesn't it? If you are a Christian of course! So what do you do if you are a Christian? I think the only answer is to become asexual and revert to a platonic but still a loving relationship with your wife. Of course this means also that your wife would need to consider how she feels about it all and what she thinks is the right thing to do too. But I speak as a Christian and all of what I have said you will not agree with if you are not a Christian. One thing I firmly believe, again as a Christian, is that marriages are made in Heaven and we are spiritually joined as such in the eyes of God, even after divorce. Divorce is a ritual we go through to satisfy the laws of the communities in which we live. Once we consummate a marriage it becomes binding in Heaven. Well that's what I believe. As a point of interest I am divorced but still live with my ex although now there is no sexual relationship. I have chosen to be asexual and my ex? Well she was never really into sex in the first place! I can appreciate the dilemma you might be faced with and I hope you can work things out according to your feelings should you follow through with your desires.

    Shirley Anne x

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  4. Hi Jenny,

    I'm sorry to say this on one hand, but, I have to agree with Shirley Anne, as I too am a Christian in the same situation. I will in all probability never transition (age and some other factors). Therefore, my and my wife's relationship will never become a homosexual/lesbian issue. I am trying, with the Lord's help, to be content with being able to live my life just presenting as who I am, a woman, without the final surgeries... and no homosexual/lesbian issue. I am a sinner (but forgiven) in many other ways... I don't want this one added to the list, so this is our solution.

    I hope you and your wife can come to some resolution of this issue. I will be praying specifically for you and your wife about this.

    Hugs GF,

    Cynthia XX

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  6. Jenny,
    I have transitioned, and with my wife's help have become a better woman. She watched me take my transition steps; was reluctant at the times I had to move forward but knew that was my journey. We are both very involved in the Episcopal church and in the community; as we speak to many college classes during the year. Relationships changes with physical age and abilities; and believe me there are many different way of giving and taking pleasure with your partner. It doesn't have to be man into woman; just giving pleasure binds and connects a couple on so many levels. I believe that God gave us these bodies that experiences pleasure and joy to be with other; and he wants us to use them. I strongly believe what the Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints said on Oprah; that "being gay is a gift from God".

    With labels, I tell the classes that I consider myself a lesbian because I am with my wife. My wife, on the other hand, has traveled across several labels in the years we have been married and now she tell everyone that she just loves Sarah, the same person who she once knew a 'John'.

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  7. Hi Jenny,

    Sorry to weigh in on this as a newbie and please don't take anything that I say as being representative of anyone other than me!

    I see the potential pitfalls and issues with the labels but I get why you need to plumb that, it's something that will otherwise rear its head when you don't expect it and that's just not a good idea.

    I am also a Christian. I do not believe God makes 'mistakes'. Ergo, He must know that He creates homosexuality. Okay, He also creates and is in charge of Evil too. However, my reading of what He left through the flawed minds of human males suggests that God is more concerned with your relationships than with labels. If you find yourself swept over the cliff edge I suspect the most important thing will be how you and your wife relate. And, as a Christian, I believe He will be there to catch you both.

    I don't think He cares much if you have a physical relationship so long as you have a loving relationship.

    Kay & Sarah put it best, to my mind. But, like I said, I only speak for me on this one.

    Whoa, big comment from a newbie, sorry.

    Joanna

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  8. Hey, all comments welcomed!

    Y'know, when I wrote this I didn't consider any religious angle. This is more about the effect on my wife as others perceive her to be in a same-sex relationship. Me, I'm not bothered, if I can climb into a flowery number (metaphorically y'understand!) and wander the streets of a British market town then bein' the Tallest Dyke in the West is small fry. But for her, she's not one of us. She's been co-opted into this and she didn't choose to be seen that way.

    I agree very strongly with Jess, I see myself as monogamous rather than cleaving to an identity. It isn't the heterosexual obsession with how same-sex couples leap into bed, more that my wife is the woman I care very deeply about and to whom I do not wish to cause any grief.

    So what about Christianity? If you've read this blog you'll know I come form a traditional British rural background. Very Anglican. Y'know, "We Plough the Fields and Scatter/The Good Seed on the land!", cricket on the green, honey still for tea and the Vicar driving a Morris Minor. Ah, St. Mary Mead C of E primary school, you have a lot to answer for!

    Of course, I'm one of the current vicar's errant sheep who escaped through a hole in the hedge years ago. I still clear the ivy off the back wall of the church and do the mowing from time to time, but in the absence of a wedding or a christening I haven't been to a service in years.

    Some of it stuck though. I especially remember the bit about loving thy neighbour, and the verses - many of them, as I recall - that made it rather clear that judging people was rather bad form, as you might lay yourself open to be judged yourself. Thus I worry less about what people do between themselves, and more about how they behave towards other people.

    Last year a very good friend of mine was made homeless by the actions of someone who is very big in their local church. My friend ended up living in her caravan at my parents' place for several weeks, and as for the so-called Christian, well I take the view that Christian is as Christian does.

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  9. Hi Jenny
    Something to just tuck away at the back of your mind is that if you eventualy decide to go for GRS is that nobody seems to be able to predict what their orientation will be afterwards. I discussed this recently with my doctor at GIC and he confirmed this. I believe that many are surprised, either because things change or equally for others that things don't change. This should not affect what you are doing now but it might affect your relationship in the future. As I said, just something to tuck away in your mind.

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    1. I'm fully aware, that HRT plays all sorts of funny tricks with your brain and I should expect anything. Cross that bridge when I come to it, and do right by my wife is all I can say.

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  10. All our friends are very civilised and when wife slowly turned to partner I doubt that many cared and nobody at all seems upset, quite the converse...

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    1. I suspect my story would be similar.

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  11. funny, just listened to The Philosopher's Arms on BBC iPlayer; they were discussing Theseus' Ship, and the question of whether something retains its essential identity if it changes, and if so, or if not, by how much it may change, and so on... sure you get the idea... my friend Cathy was on there giving her trans perspective. Interesting, and recommended listening!

    I'd be a bit disappointed in god if They were to deem blasphemous something that was divinely ordained last week, just because of some surgery. My god would be a bit better than that.

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  12. As an atheist I am happily unrestrained by arcane doctrine. I did, however, grow up with a fear of declaring myself to be things such as trans or lesbian. Perhaps it's some strange aspect of Britishness? Politeness taken to a damaging extreme. I am reminded of a famous psychological experiment that I forget the name of. The test subject was placed in a room of actors who pretended to be other test subjects. When the actors gave intentionally wrong answers to questions the test subjects would give the wrong answer even when they knew it was wrong. We are social/group animals performing a highly individual act of self definition, the norm being definition by the group as is the case with heterosexuality.
    I am very happy to say I have got over my fear of self declaration. I was worried about a lack of acceptance from the lesbian community before I came out of the closet but then my lesbian friends turned out to be the most supportive and generally wonderful.
    I hope things go well with your wife.

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  13. I've read similar stories from both sides, the mechanics may change but the love remains and most labels peel off easily.
    Lucie

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