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.