The Pretend Lesbian

Sometimes I look at pictures of transgender couples online and think to myself, “Whoa.  Sometime down the road, pictures of J and me are going to look just like pictures of two girls.”  It’s a weird feeling, and to some extent we are already there.

We had family photos taken the other month, and we made a point of having them taken with J in female-mode.  I curled her hair (something I’m finally getting better at), and J wore a girly shirt with padding up top.  She looked good, and I don’t feel weird looking at those pictures.  I guess it becomes more obvious to me only when looking at photos of strangers, that I am going to be seen as a lesbian for the rest of my life.  And that bothers me a little.  I am going to miss the relative anonymity of being part of a “straight” couple.  More than that, though, I don’t feel like a lesbian, and no matter how far along J gets in her transition, I don’t think that will change.  The fact of the matter is, when I think about people I am or might be attracted to, they are all male.  That I am attracted to J is a special case.  But explaining that to the public is sort of like answering the question, “Where are you from?” when you grew up as a military brat (which I did.)  The answer is complicated, and sometimes it’s just easier to tell an abbreviated half-truth / half-lie.

There’s another aspect to J’s transition that has been niggling at me recently.  This mini struggle takes the form of pronouns, names (J has chosen a new name… The new name also starts with a J, so for the purposes of this blog, J is, and always will be, J), and the decision of whether to say “husband,” “spouse,” or “wife.”  All the important people in our lives know about J’s transgenderism, but with acquaintances I often forget what has and has not been revealed.  I usually end up hedging, saying “spouse” and avoiding pronouns as much as possible.  Every once in a while I will get my courage up and say “she” and “my wife.”  At other times I cave in to the comfort of old titles and say “he” and “my husband.”

I think part of me is tensing up and waiting for somebody to call me out on my inconsistencies.  I don’t know exactly what they would say, but I do know that it would feel exactly like that time I told an old friend that I wore a size 11 shoe.  We looked at my shoes then and they were only a size 10.  I was flummoxed, and she said, rather sharply, “Don’t exaggerate.”  It was only later, long after the conversation was over, that I realized:  I was wearing a pair of men’s running shoes.  I was a men’s size 10, and a woman’s size 11.  But to my friend, I was just acting like a poseur.  And a foot poseur, of all things.

Then there was the time that I told an acquaintance that I was 6′ 1″, after having claimed to be 6′ 0.5″ for years.  This person called me out on the extra half inch.  The thing is, I had measured myself recently, and there it was:  6′ 1″.  Perhaps the measurement was off.  Perhaps I was finally admitting to myself that saying, “I’m six feet and one-half inch” is a pain in the ass compared to just saying, “I’m six-one.”  But there it was.  The insinuation:  Poseur.

I guess what it all comes down to is, people love to question inconsistencies.  They probably won’t be accusatory about my current situation, but I sometimes imagine somebody meeting J after I’ve talked about her, then saying to me, “Wait, didn’t you say you had a wife?”  Implying that J is male and that I have been pretending to be a lesbian when I am not.  Simultaneously I can imagine somebody meeting J after I’ve talked about him, then saying to me, “Wait, didn’t you say you had a husband?”  Implying that J is female and that I’m ashamed of admitting that I am a lesbian.

Or maybe they won’t.  But it is messing with my mind a little right now.

Time for a cup of coffee, I think.

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4 Responses to The Pretend Lesbian

  1. georgiakevin says:

    i think that you are a wonderful caring lady who truly knows how to love unconditionally. J is very lucky to have you.

  2. S says:

    I, too, am in your position. From what it sounds, I feel pretty much the same. I’ve loved my partner for years – I just didn’t know that my partner was hiding who she really was (and from *herself*, most importantly). I don’t like that the world will perceive me as a lesbian and that on our wedding day, some people will frown. I don’t find girls remotely attractive. I was comfortable in my little box of “straight”. I thought I had our future planned out. But since accepting that my partner is a girl (wow, yeah, she is sooo girly), I’ve come to realise that I shouldn’t think in terms of gender. The world is too black and white, and everyone wants to put people in easy-to-understand categories, when people are much more fluid. My partner, rather than being “a girl”, is my SOULMATE, and it helps to think of her that way. I love the person who makes me laugh, who listens to me, who supports me – that’s what I fell in love with, and that’s still there. I want her to be happy. I’m glad she’s finally found the cause of all her problems. I’m glad I helped show her that she really *is* just a normal person, a normal girl. And we can have that normal life she dreamed of, together.

    She’s my soulmate. 🙂

  3. ebbtide says:

    Greetings! It is always wonderful to find an eloquent voice of women loving transwomen, and your blog is a lovely discovery.

    When I first came out as a queer woman it was importatnt to me (and still is, honestly) to find a community. Now, it is so very affirming to see other relationships that reflect my own in some ways.

    Thanks for sharing your stories with all of us.

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