28 February 2012

Partner Circle: Coming Out, Part II

In our society, there are many different versions of ‘the talk’. In this community, however, the ‘coming out talk’ may be the most monumental we face. For some, this conversation could be potentially life changing, thus making it all the more daunting of a task. By this point, I am going to assume that you and your partner have had said ‘talk’ – they have come out to you as either questioning their gender identity or, having thought long and hard about it, have come to the conclusion they are what we would call transgender. This is not to say that just because your partner has come out to you questioning their gender identity they are automatically trans*. This is why ‘the talk’ is so important, you need to ask your partner how they wish to identity, whether it be as trans*, gender non-conforming, gender neutral, what have you. Once that has been established, one can assume that your conversation ended with the two of you still being together, seeing as you are here reading this.

First things first, I want to compliment you on choosing what I consider to be a more ‘adult’ road. I myself have never had to make this decision, so I cannot imagine being in those shoes. However, love is love is love – it is a completely genderless emotion. So I guess what I am trying to say is…thank you. Thank you for choosing love over fear and sticking with your partner no matter what you face together. But I digress…

Now that you have had the talk with your partner, you need to have one with yourself, and you have to be honest during this conversation. Sometimes, we placate others because we want to see them happy, but we forget about ourselves in the process. Your happiness should be your main focus, and that is not a selfish viewpoint. If you do not keep an eye out for your own happiness, no one else will. Sit down with yourself, take a deep breathe, and ask the questions you were afraid to let yourself ask when your partner first came out to you.

A lot of cis-women who date other cis-women consider themselves lesbians (or gay, whichever your preferred label is) and that label is extremely important to them. I am not saying your self-adhered label should not be important to you, but I am imploring you to realize it is not the most important thing at hand. If you are a cis-woman and your partner comes out to you as transgender, meaning they are female-to-male, society will have us believe that a man and a woman in a relationship denotes a ‘straight couple’. Here is the thing though – if being out with your trans* partner is going to have you constantly worrying about people thinking you are a straight couple, then society is not the issue here…you are.

I know that labels are important to us, I really do. As a queer woman, I know there are people that would not want to date me were I identified as bisexual or pansexual, because there is a stigma associated with those labels. It’s an unfortunate fact in our community that we judge first by label and then by who the person is underneath said label. However, you are not responsible for the community, you are responsible for yourself in your relationship. If being a woman who identifies as a lesbian while being a relationship with a partner who identifies as a man is too much for you, then you need to let each other go. But if you are willing to fight for the relationship, willing to let go of your adamant adherence to a label in favor of your relationship, then I really truly wish you the best in the world.

When in doubt, I suggest always choosing love over fear.
Even if you lose, you are still going to win in the end.

Xx Emily

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