Weighing Gender Alignment and Relationships

I wrote before that coming out to friends, family, and in-law family was terrifying, and I guess I mean that it’s terrifying in the anxious, stabbing feeling in the gut sort of way. Thinking about it gives me a sort of feeling like “no, wait, I didn’t mean it, I’ll dress girly again,” but it’s temporary. Once my train of thought moves on to some other trans-related track, I’m back to where I was.

I decided that really the most frightening bit is losing my relationship with my fiance (pseudonym Fergus). Fergus is straight, definitely straight, and uncomfortable with other straight-ish labels like heteroflexible, and he’s made some comments (meant to be consolation in a particular context) that almost all men are ugly. Insofar as relationships survive transition, it’s usually relationships with women rather than men that survive. Apparently there is a generalizable thing with men staying with a partner less often than women staying through big life events and negative situations (although I got this though haphazard googling, so more reading is needed). There’s also the orientation thing that cis women’s orientation is more likely to be fluid or bisexual compared to cis men’s orientation (Lisa Diamond’s “Sexual Fluidity” is my main source on this, but I’ve seen/heard of it elsewhere as well). Out of the possible orientation/trans combinations there are queer transman with straight cisman seems like one of the least likely to work out of survive.

On the other hand, there are some positive things. One of the biggest is that he has a major thing for masculine women (he has many types, and this is a major type of his). Apparently even before all of this gender thinking, I gave off a very androgynous / masculine vibe (I thought  at the time I was figuring out how to fit in with women, but maybe not, haha). Because of that, I had considered being on T just long enough to get the lower voice that would increase my ability to pass significantly (if I’m binding and in a context where people don’t already know me as female, I can usually pass until I say something and my definitely-feminine voice comes out), maybe combined with slimming down to reduce some curves, and those two things would leave a decent chunk of feminine qualities while allowing me to pass and theoretically come out and all of that. My already existing masculine qualities or habits haven’t bothered Fergus: tall height (2 inches shy of 6 foot), hairiness (not so much hairier than the typical genetic female, but I don’t shave legs, underarm, etc), and so on. Fergus and I have also talked for months about me getting top surgery to some degree, maybe to something like an A cup instead of taking the whole thing, and he’s been super ok with that. Fergus has also been very supportive and gender affirming; when I mentioned a few weeks ago that I might go for a teller job, which has strong gender norms and concern with appropriateness, he said I shouldn’t make myself dress girly again just for that. And then there’s the openness of the relationship, since Fergus and I don’t expect each other to meet 100% of our emotional or social or physical needs.

So trying to put it all together doesn’t give me much certainty about how the situation would turn out. This 3 year thing has been amazing, and I dunno, my gender dysphoria is probably just quiet enough to stuff into a mental box in the back of my mind. It’s not like I have to be girly to pass for female. Fortunately, society already has a label for mannish women: butch/dyke/etc, and I took those labels on in the past when they were what seemed to fit the most. The thing I definitely don’t want is to lose this relationship over orientation issues from transition. Fergus and I have said numerous times in the past, as a particular romantic thing “you’re not my soulmate, we’re incredibly happy with each other, but we could absolutely find other people to be happy with as well,” but I want him in particular. I feel like I could handle separation due to normal sort of irreconcilable differences, but a relationship that had worked for orientation and then doesn’t because of some trait of mine that wasn’t apparent from the start, that seems much less like something I would want to face.

I guess I’ll be pondering this over the next while. How can I know if Fergus will be able to handle the maleness? Is there a way to mitigate the impact to Fergus? Do I need to transition, or can I just continue on knowing that my gender presentation isn’t quite right?


Edit: Changed pseudonym to “Fergus”

Fear of Coming Out is Persuasive

I was having a conversation with my fiance the other day about transitioning (which is still a thing to figure out). We were talking in a somewhat hypothetical way about how we as a couple would deal with the changes transition would entail, which was especially important given that he’s straight with some wiggle room for personality. The vibe of the conversation was definitely one of “we’ll make it work,” and he and I were feeling pretty good about things, and I was feeling like transitioning was a thing I should probably plan to move forward with. Then I thought about the task of coming out to his huge family, with 70+ people on just one side of the family and fewer people but more religious and more bound by gender roles on the other side. My first thought was “oh. I don’t want to do this, maybe I’m not really trans.” The only thing that had changed was the prospect of coming out, but that fear was enough to make me question things I had spent months figuring out. That sort of reversal or push-pull of wants versus socially impacted wants has happened before then and since then, but it was interesting how stark it was in that particular example.

The fear of consequences has been a thread throughout the past 9-10 months that my gender has so strongly been on my mind. Fear of losing my child through custody issues with her mostly-absent other parent. Fear of losing my fiance through newly incompatible orientation. Fear of losing the bit of family I still have, who are very very concerned with social appropriateness, including gender appropriateness.

That fear is one reason why I find myself wishing I could be a gender chameleon. Just change my outward gender presentation as needed and pass convincingly either way. It’s not possible to a really significant degree, and I don’t know that it’s what I really want, but it would be a way to live a dual life and maintain the things I have in my life that being a transgender person puts at risk. As is, with the way I present to family/most friends versus the way I present to close friends and strangers, I suppose I have the gender chameleon thing going on to some degree already.

Someday I need to think more about how far I want to go with transition, and how much I want to be somewhere in the middle versus unambiguously masculine, separated from what has the least amount of coming out.