I know I promised my first coming out story in this post, but as I began to write it, I found that more exposition was necessary.
Anyone who has read even a couple of posts on this blog knows that I have a very…meandering writing style. Some of that is due to its nature of being a journal, and part of it is because I am often writing about things that happened in the past, but more than anything, it’s because I am extremely stream-of-consciousness and generally way too lazy to edit.
All that to say: I don’t really have a plan for how my retelling of this story is going to go down. It’ll probably be all over the place, because frankly, I’m reopening one of the most emotional and chaotic chapters of my life.
As I stated in the last post, Naomi and I had been faltering in our sex life for quite some time.
Actually, wait. There’s a pretty pertinent detail that I have to confess which will give greater context to this whole story.
It’s weird putting everything of my life on the internet for anyone, from total strangers to personal friends and acquaintances, to read. I guess, philosophically, I feel the world in general would be a better place if everyone were more open with each other. And yes, more specifically, it is my goal to bring greater understanding of the “trans experience”. One day, I hope that other people like me won’t have to suffer some of the things I have.
Anyway, it’s embarrassing, and even now I’m ashamed to admit it to you, but I was a virgin until I started dating Naomi, at the age of 25. She was only the second person I ever dated, and the first since my high school girlfriend some 8 or so years earlier.
You see, I had a lot of factors working against me. For example, if you go back and read my “On Hormones” series, you’ll find that my hormones were far from the “normal” cis male range, and probably always had been. My sex drive was, therefore, much lower than most. But really, that’s only a minor part of the story.
Yeah, it’s the whole trans thing.
I doubt I really have to spell it out any more than I have in all the other posts leading to this one, but extreme depression and issues with self-image are already pretty damaging to anyone looking to get into any sort of relationship, much less a sexual one. Oh, yeah, I was looking–sort of. At least, I wanted to be in a relationship sooner than I actually got in one, but, you know…
To say nothing of being expected to be “the guy” in a relationship, replete with all the “roles” that go along with that. I spent those aforementioned 8 years cycling between wondering how I was going to pull that one off, and ignoring I had ever had the thought in the first place.
Oh, and sex is basically considered evil in the part of the world I am from. To never be talked about, to never be engaged in outside of marriage, to never be enjoyed. I’m finding that I have a lot to unpack about the red state fundamentalist background I have fortunately put behind me, but that is a story for another day.
And how do I even reconcile all this with identifying (when I allowed myself to) as a lesbian in a male body?
So I did something very, very unhealthy: I repressed my sexuality. What followed was a decade or so of celibacy and lone-wolfing. “40 Year Old Virgin” legitimately scared me, even as I laughed at it.
Anyway, that finally changed when I got together with Naomi. While I was scared and embarrassed to tell her what I just confessed to you, she was deeply sympathetic and kind about it. We therefore took things pretty slow at first, and despite the way things turned out, we really did have some good times.
I went into the relationship doing the very best I could to be exactly what I thought I needed to be for us to have a “healthy” sexual relationship. I mean, I still knew that I wanted to be a girl, but I behaved as much like a man as I could manage. I mean, I had a lifetime of repressing invasive “trans” thoughts. I was able to convince myself I was definitely a cis male by framing myself as especially “woke”, because I realized that I was pretty awesome for the duality of my “gendered” interests: I cooked, I sewed my own Halloween costumes, I rebuilt engines and wrote about classic cars, I read military history and love poetry, I worshiped at the altars of Gaga and System of a Down. Of course I was a guy, and an awesome one at that, because I liked what I liked and didn’t care what other people thought of it!
Somehow, though, I never took that realization to its natural conclusion: gender is in no way based on one’s interests, and it’s intellectually juvenile to assume that it is. Funny, that.
And as for how “masculine” I was in our relationship?
I never took charge.
I never wore cologne.
I never wanted to do anything that made me “feel like a man”.
And are even those things necessarily predicates for upsetting the gender binary? I guess, depending on who you ask, but really, no. There are plenty of “masculine” women and “feminine” men who are very comfortable in their cisgender identities.
But then, one day, she asked to do my makeup. I tried to act coy, but she could tell I liked it.
She could tell I liked it a little too much.
And so I confessed. For whatever reason, that was the event that broke me, and ultimately, it would be the one that broke us.
This was a couple of years ago, and I admit, I have forgotten some of the details in that time. I do know that it took me a long while to come out and say anything once the conversation started, and once I finally did begin saying anything about it, I intentionally framed it in a way that was completely dishonest, both to myself and Naomi.
I confessed that I “had a fetish”.
Because the only way I could even begin to understand myself at the time while also refusing to accept myself as trans was to write it off as a fetish–something which is now even more embarrassing than the number of years it took me to become sexually active.
And I should mention, cross-dressing and gender-bending are definitely fetishes that exist, and that there are a ton of self-identified cisgender individuals who engage in them and who also live completely gender-/sexual-normative lives outside the bedroom. Because of this, it is extremely common for many trans-in-denial folk to read about this, and come to the conclusion that they are fetishists, and not trans. Now, whether or not people who engage in these fetishes are actually cis or trans-in-denial is a debate that is pretty well outside the scope of this blog–I can only report my own experience with the phenomenon.
Naomi took it well at first. I told her that I liked to feel “feminine” when being sexual, and either that day or soon thereafter, I occasionally (with her blessing) started wearing her underwear around the house (especially when I needed to “get in the mood”). I can vividly remember her once saying that she was “excited to start this journey and see where this goes.” I was happy, she seemed happy, and our sex life was, for the time being, in tact.
It didn’t take long, though, for the glass house we had built to begin developing cracks.
Almost certainly, Naomi was turned off the moment I told her that I liked to feel feminine in bed. I can’t imagine she felt any of the same emotions I felt after she had done my makeup, and when she looked at the work she had done. Because of this, it really wasn’t long before our sex life began to degrade; Naomi grew more and more frustrated as I grew more and more…confused.
And the shitty, hypocritical thing? I can’t even blame her. For all the suffering I endured for being born with only one X chromosome, I doubt strongly that I would’ve been any different, or even as good. Sexually, I am extremely turned-off by anything “male”, and if my (previously-believed-to-be) female partner came out of nowhere and confessed they wanted to assume a more “masculine” role…I would struggle with it. Hell, even now, I would struggle with it, which is a further testament to Naomi’s quality as a person.
This continued for about two years, during which time, Naomi highlighted more and more the things I should do and “want to do” as a man while I became more and more embittered that I had ever been weak enough to confess my “fetish” to her. I wished so badly that I had never said anything to her in the first place, that I had been better at lying to her and myself. I hated myself for what I had done, and now, I hate myself for what I put her through.
Neither of us spoke about my “fetish” any more than we had to. Over time, my confession took on the form of a bad dream that we couldn’t forget and which endlessly hung over us.
Finally, on my 28th birthday, we reached a breaking point.
In part trois, “The First Coming (Out)”. For reals this time. Probably.