My girlfriend is writing about my transition and our relationship from her perspective as a cisgender female who previously was only on the fringe of any type of queer relationship–lost in the deep woods, she can let you know about that. Anyhow, I want to mirror that writing process but it may take me awhile. I suppose I can cover previous partners in this first post.
It goes way back, and I suppose my gender expression was attached in some way to partners from an early age. When I was 15 I came out to a girlfriend. Back in the dark ages of the year 2000, I don’t think I knew the word “transgender,” but I knew I wanted to be a girl and I told her that. This relationship didn’t last and as I entered my twenties I tried to enjoy sexual encounters that involved some form of crossdressing as often as I could. This was hard to orchestrate and frustrating as I wanted more than mere kink. I tried to have a normal relationship from 22 to 25. It was at this point that I knew I needed to do something about my gender identity. I intuitively knew my girlfriend during that time wouldn’t be cool with me expressing myself in a feminine way, and being feminine consumed my thoughts more and more. Hell, I wasn’t even allowed to be the little spoon. I left her and told a close girlfriend who I had some sexual tension with that I was trans, or a “girl” (I was drunk so the parlance of the confession has not been preserved); it was fun. Shortly after I met the woman I would move overseas with.
I was in teachers college after a summer of experimenting and I knew I had to continue with the whole girl mode thing, though I didn’t yet know if I was “fully trans.” I guess I always did, but I thought because of my OCD I could take a kind of mental health pass at being transgender. Surprisingly this wasn’t a very good idea (my mental health has improved 300% since starting HRT). I was open with this new partner about needing to express my feminity and this led to an exciting first year together. I remember going to a job interview in Toronto for an overseas teaching post and then going out as Mina to a pansexual club right after we interviewed together. I suppose I was Billie then, as Mina is a more recent development.
Initially, I thought this was enough. We had fun, it was exciting, and I was caught up in the explosive chemistry set that is new love. So, we moved to Bangladesh together (this would be an interesting subject to write about, but I was never allowed to leave the house). Soon into our life in Dhaka, I realised that it wasn’t enough to merely present as female to my partner. I wanted my partner to think of me as female. She didn’t. Of course, I also couldn’t express to her that I wanted her to see me as female because I was terrified of losing her. In this way I was held hostage to my situation, I had something, but it wasn’t what I wanted, but I was afraid to lose what I had (this was some kind of Sartrean shit). This went on for six years and spanned three countries. I am sure this inauthenticity wore down our relationship. I was in “bad faith.” I think this is why I became obsessed with reading Sartre after we broke up.
Anyhow, it took almost dying (see my post about my dive accident), a trip through a high altitude desert on the border of Tibet and Nepal (no post, though I could do that), and the realisation that maybe all my mental anguish was because I was repressing something, to finally come to terms with my need to transition. This is when a friend I had known for some time reappeared in my life by my own design. Though I had no design on another relationship as this is exactly when I felt I needed to be alone to experience my own subjective version of myself.
I will add to this in the future and maybe even talk about sex. I suppose I will have to as that is an integral part of my transition and being in this relationships. I suppose I find this dual perspective fascinating and will endeavour to talk about her now that the stage is set.
And for clarification, I do believe in love and think that another person can help you to discover and validate your experience of self; I’m not with Sartre on that one, though maybe I am just misreading him, I’ve been doing that for a decade. I do however believe that it is easy to be inauthentic and try to live up to anther person’s vision of who we are, and that can often be at odds with our own version of self.