Monthly Archives: January 2012

Human Connection: “Straight,” No Chaser

My good friend and partner-in-crime Jess Farris (whose name you may recognize from the first featured personal experience spotlight on this site) describes her new blog But I Thought You Were… as, “The misadventures of a girl just living life and yearning to find a genuine connection to another human being. And not worrying so much anymore what kind of equipment they’re packing!” Amen, and I’ll drink to that! And this description – in particular, the latter portion – is a fantastic segue into what I want to touch on  today.

There’s a particular double-standard that exists, with which I think most people who don’t fall into hetero-normative categories are at least somewhat familiar. It goes a little something like: “Ooh! I should set you up with my friend because you’re both gay/lesbian.” Heterosexual set-ups, on the other hand, are more likely to be based on – if you can believe it – the  crazy phenomenon of actual common ground between the two people in question. And, as recently as last week – though it’s not the first time it’s happened, and probably won’t be the last – I’ve had well-meaning friends who’ve wanted to introduce me to their FTM friends simply because they know I’ve dated transguys before. On the heels of this most recent event not sparking into a love connection (the guy was a sweetheart, but I wasn’t really looking for anything, and even if I had been, we met at a friend’s birthday celebration at a club… so not exactly conducive to any kind of deep connection), the birthday girl (who, by the way, was not even the friend responsible for the forced, awkward set-up) commented, “Wow, I guess you’re really not a tranny chaser then.” Um, yeah, thank you. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell everyone.

For my own convenience purposes earlier, the easiest place I was able to find a definition of the term “tranny chaser” was on Urban Dictionary… not the most professional reference, I know, but it will suffice to illustrate my point (and, frankly, I think there’s a damn good reason that particular search term doesn’t pop up in a more professional source). According to most of what’s on there,  the most common definition is something along the lines of “a straight male who is sexually obsessed with/turned on by male to female transsexuals.” Well, I’m pretty sure that one lets me out right off the bat.

Apparently, the term can also refer to “dykes who fetishize trans men as ‘really butch’ and thus keep dyke cred by not admitting they might be attracted to a man.” First off, I’ve never looked at any of the transguys I’ve dated as “really butch” lesbians; that’s why they’re called “transguys,” not “trans really butch lesbians.” Secondly, I’m also willing to state for the record here on my public site that I’ve been attracted to a few cisgender guys in my time as well, with little regard for what it might mean for my “dyke cred…” so I guess I don’t fit that second definition either.

Urban Dictionary also claims that, “A queer-identified woman who lusts after FTMs may be identified as a tranny-chaser if she outs her lovers as trans, particularly to acquaintances and strangers, so that she won’t be taken for straight,” and I’ll admit that – though it certainly was not my finest hour –  the first time I got the “why are you here if you’re straight?” question in a gay bar, I did feel the need to explain why, despite outward appearances,  I still “belonged” there… but, thankfully, that didn’t last long either.

So while, yes, I do happen to like – as Jess put it – “what kind of equipment they’re packing,” in regard to transguys, I don’t fetishize them, and I’m not going to date someone solely based on that. I’m not just about what they’re “packing,” and in fact, even their trans-ness has only ever been a tiny portion of the equation for me; while, granted, they often have amazing and unique experiences to share because of their trans factor, there’s A LOT more to it for me than that. I’m all about viewing whoever I date as the total package, and it just so happens that, in the past, I’ve found my personal definition of that in a few transguys. Sure, I dug their “equipment,” and we had our fun in that department, but what really got me hooked and held my interest was so much bigger and so far beyond all that…

I’ve known guys with whom I could talk for hours and never get bored because of the amazing banter and verbal sparring we developed. I’ve known guys who’ve inspired the shit out of me with the strength and integrity they displayed as men, in the face of – and perhaps even because of – the challenges and obstacles they’d encountered in their lives. I’ve known guys who’ve had the rare distinction of being one of those people who made me feel that, when they looked at me, they were actually looking hard enough and paying close enough attention to really see me, learning what I was about and what made me tick, challenging me to fully examine each facet of myself… and who, in turn, openly invited and encouraged me to challenge them because they truly believed that the connection we shared had the power to help us both grow and evolve and better ourselves as human beings… and they were right; it absolutely did.

And none of that had anything to do with their “equipment.”

© Kristin Despina for Acceptance Revolution, 2012

Advertisements

Personal Experience Spotlight: Jess Farris

“But I thought you were a lesbian!?”

Three years ago, I sat in a diner across from a friend and told her that, “If me and Kate* break up for good; I’ll probably go back to dating guys.” To anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with me, Kate needs no introduction. She was my entire life for the past 4 ½ years. More than just my girlfriend; she was “the one.” I was so sure of this that I actually put an engagement ring on hold during one of our on periods… then, consequently, going and getting my money back when we were off again. This was the nature of our entire relationship; hot and cold, off and on, break up to make up. Yet, in my mind she was the love of my life, and the good times most certainly outweighed the bad. Only, they didn’t. In hindsight, I realized that during those off periods while I was missing her, I would romanticize the relationship. It was all good, and I could prove it to her if only she would give it another chance…
About 5 months ago I finally came to my senses. I wasn’t happy; she wasn’t happy. She didn’t want to put in the work and I was exhausted from working so damn hard. Mutually, we decided to stop torturing ourselves and ended things for good.

So, there I was during one of our “breaks,” eating a grilled cheese sandwich and chatting with my friend. I’m sure we were going back and forth about our relationships and how depressed we were, but what sticks out most in my mind was that comment I made about going back to men. After I blurted it out, my friend asked me, “Why?” I shrugged and said something along the lines of, “I don’t know. I just think it’ll end up happening.” I didn’t know why I had said it or why I was thinking about trying things with men again. Especially since I was still so in love with Kate, or at least I thought I was at the time. And while me and her did end up getting back together (and breaking up) for years after I had this conversation with my friend; the seed was planted. I didn’t consciously sit around and wonder about hooking up with dudes but I would sure as hell dream about it. And it freaked me the fuck out. I’m a lesbian; why am I having dreams about men?! Lying in bed next to my girlfriend, I would wake up feeling guilty and confused. I figured the curiosity, or whatever the hell it was, would just go away. And it would for a few months; and then the dreams would start up again.

I talked to my friends about it and they all pretty much had the same thing to say; maybe it was simply because I had never tried it. I did have a couple of boyfriends before I came out. We did some PG-13 stuff but nothing too heavy and never went as far as sex. So technically, I was still a virgin. I was always the type to get super annoyed at people, especially guys , when they would say things like, “How do you know you don’t like sex with men if you never tried it?” Which I would then turn that question back on them, and we would both have the same answer- we didn’t need to try it, we just knew. But now I wasn’t so sure. I was terrified to have sex with a man. Not only was there the whole “ouch” factor, but I really don’t trust men. Some shady shit has happened to me in the past, and it’s left me scarred. I don’t like to let them in because I fear getting hurt. And I’m not as comfortable around them sexually as I am with females. When I finally gave in to my attraction to girls, I thought I had it all figured out. Women are beautiful; I can trust them AND be free sexually without fear. This is great! I’m a lesbian, and I never have to worry about men in that aspect again. Yet here I was; and the seed was growing.

I just couldn’t shake this feeling. This wondering…  During my last few breaks from Kate I found myself making out with boys. I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it. I told myself it was because I was lonely and bored. And most of these kisses did nothing to excite me; I felt nothing but a mouth attached to another human being. No connection; no arousal. And then when it came time for me to “work things out” with Kate, again, I definitely did NOT want her to know about these hook ups. She would think I was disgusting! How dare I go and kiss boys, being that I was so gay. This fear of what she would think branched out further into what would the lesbian community, my community, think about me and this new found curiosity in men? I would be labeled a traitor. Not to mention feel like a hypocrite.  I myself had seen friends, and friends of friends, who were once with women exclusively and now had boyfriends or husbands.  I remember thinking, “How they hell could they just switch sides like that?!” Now, not only was I confused and fearful of these new feelings I couldn’t get rid of; I was afraid of being shunned by a group of people that in some ways felt like my family. Coming out and making friends within the gay and lesbian world makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You feel free and proud; supported and loved. Was I going to lose all of that based on a maybe? Even if I did “experiment” with men, there was no telling if I would enjoy it or not.

Needless to say, I didn’t really have to deal with the negative backlash of the community. Once Kate and I split for good, I realized that most of my gay friends were really her gay friends. My core group of friends were straight, bisexual, or somewhere in between. And they were certainly not going to judge me for whatever the hell I was going through. After the break up, I finally felt free to explore the curiosity that was gnawing at me from the inside out. I needed a break from the whole gay scene, not to mention Kate and her friends, so I avoided the gay bars. I mean, it wasn’t hard; there are only 2 within an hour of my house. But that’s beside the point. I started doing what every newly single girl does; I went out with the ladies! I hit up the “straight” bars and clubs that I only went to on occasion before because there was nothing for me in them; I already had my girlfriend. I drank, danced, and actually started giving guys some of my attention. I was enjoying myself. I was still confused as all hell, but I liked meeting guys. Something that I felt was always missing in my relationship with Kate is what I call “feeling like a girl”. I can only describe this as a feeling you get inside when you’re with someone who makes you feel pretty, feminine, protected, and safe. Kate did nothing wrong; I just always felt like I had to have the more masculine energy and I didn’t like that. Now I was starting to get this feeling I craved by being out in the straight world.

As much as I was enjoying myself, there was still a huge amount of uncertainty and fear. But something else was weighing heavier on my mind: the fact that almost everyone I knew still referred to me as a lesbian. It’s not fair for me to be mad at them for doing so when they weren’t aware of the direction I was headed in. I didn’t want to go around telling everyone because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what the hell to tell them. I wasn’t ready to call myself bisexual because I wasn’t sure that I was. I was also afraid that people would think that the whole “lesbian” thing was just a phase. I mean, it was and it wasn’t. It wasn’t a phase in the way that the homophobes like to call being gay a phase. It’s not something I was just experimenting with or getting out of my system. No matter what gender I end up with, I will always be attracted to females. It was a phase, in the sense that that part of my life is on pause right now as I’m entering into a new phase, or chapter, of my life. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I do need to explore it.

At this point in my life I don’t want to define myself as a lesbian, bisexual or straight; I just like who I like. I personally think it’s ridiculous that, as a society, we feel the need to go around labeling people to make ourselves feel better. By putting everyone in their appropriate box, we somehow feel safer? I don’t get it. All I’m looking for is a genuine connection with another human being; gender only plays a small role in that. So yes, it gets frustrating when people still refer to me as a lesbian. Especially if there is a guy I’m interested in and I get cock blocked by someone saying, “Oh, you have no chance with her. She’s gay.” (It has happened, and it’s fucking annoying.) I no longer want to be known as so and so’s gay friend, that “hot lesbian” or what’s her names ex girlfriend; I’m just Jess.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

© Jess Farris for Acceptance Revolution, 2012

Interested in sharing your own experience? Click here for details!