Saturday, July 12, 2008

Transcontinental Failroad

The next few entries are going to be about things I was thinking about on my two-week vacation to North Carolina/ Illinois.

I was prepared for the most awkward trip of my life. Not only would I be road-tripping to the midwest with my old boyfriend, the soon-to-be wife, and the converted Muslim brother, but I'd be seeing my ex for the first time in four years, the last time being when we broke up (it was mutual). A lot has happened in four years, and my ex is practically a new person. How so? My old boyfriend is a transsexual person in transition to becoming a full-time woman.

Note: If I try to do pronouns, I'm going to get them wrong. I know it probably hurts my ex's feelings that I can't get them right at the moment...the last time we saw each other, there was no problem saying he/him, and the nature of our relationship makes it difficult for me to make the switch right now. So in the interest of not hurting anyone's feelings and protecting confidentiality, I'm going to refer to my ex as X (get it?) and use the neutral pronouns ze and zir. It might be a little cumbersome, so sorry.

I was expecting to see X at the airport in the full makeup and inserts that we'd talked about before, but on the way to the airport, ze had to visit relatives that don't know about ze's transition, so I saw the same old person that I'd known before with slightly longer hair. When we went out to lunch the next day, X got "girled up" and the waitress referred to the three of us (me, X, and fiance) as "ladies". I expected it to be harder at first, but I actually thought that ze was pretty brave, getting out there and being zirself.

It got harder later on, when I was surrounded by three couples, one married, one engaged, and one in which the boyfriend had moved out of state to be with his girlfriend. The last good relationship I'd had was with X, and four years of insecurity weighs heavy on a person's heart. I probably got all that mixed up with X's transition, and took it out on zir when we talked later. I'm resistant to any kind of change, and everything around me was a whole hell of a lot of change.

It bothered me that I was bothered. I'm the last person that should be a jerk about being supportive of a queer friend. I was confronted with issues of sexuality I hadn't dwelt upon for years. Before X and I started dating, I came out as bi on the message board where we met, and ze was the most supportive person through the whole thing. That's the only group of people, beside a few select individuals who have ever known. I'm comfortable with myself these days, and I don't like to make a big deal out of it, but I also haven't had a date in close to three years, so I don't even know how I'd react if I was particularly into a girl. It's not even like 50/50 attraction, more like 85/15, so she'd really have to be some girl to catch my attention.

X has had the benefit of being pretty involved with a trans group this past year, and I wonder if things hadn't worked out the way they did, if I would have benefited from involvement with an LGBTQ group. Near the end of my year at OSU, I got really involved and made really good friends in the Rainbow Continuum. I didn't even have to come out to them. No one cared if I was queer or an ally, and they were really respectful of everyone. Then I moved to U of O, and everything was different. I was living in a Christian women's co-op associated with a Conservative Baptist church, and the LGBTQ group was a lot more in-your-face than I was ready for. I had to make a choice, and since I don't like to make a big deal out of my bisexuality anyways, it's not the most important part of myself to me, I chose to hide it.

Bi Christians are like the worst of both worlds. In the gay and lesbian community, bisexual people either don't want to admit that they're really gay or they're just bi because it's cool. Oh, and they're total sluts too. In the Christian community, queer people in general are the ultimate sinners with the agenda of afflicting everyone with the gay. And they're total sluts too. I'm celibate by choice, and the pressure of the "sexual" part of bisexual kept me out of the queer community too.

I'm not ashamed of having dated a trans person even if ze wasn't transitioned at all at the time. I knew about zir feelings, but at the time it was no more than "sometimes I think it would be better if I was born a girl" and at 19, I didn't take it as seriously as I should have. X taught me to question the gender roles that I'd been indoctrinated with through all those marriage prep groups also known as youth groups (high school and especially college). So maybe I'm a jerk who can't use X's desired pronouns or chosen name right now, but I'm a jerk who's trying. Our friendship is important to me, and even though it's difficult, I'm fighting it out with myself.

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