Am I a lesbian?

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve begun the laborious task of telling my coworkers about Katie. It’s a complicated process, as these are people I work with and this is a conversation that doesn’t have a space in the workplace. So how do I do it? After a conference call ends, stand in front of the room and say, “My husband’s my wife!” Yeah, I don’t think that would work. This is not an “in the office” conversation. I’m also not in habit of randomly taking my coworkers on exclusive one-on-one lunches or happy hours. How does one prepare for such conversation with coworkers? I’ve talked about this previously, but it never gets easier to out my life to others. The fear of their reaction, the preparation for the look of shock on their faces, and the inevitable repeat questions all feed into a monstrous anxiety. Ultimately, I needed to tell my coworkers for ease of my own transition. I had caught myself several times telling a story about my weekend and awkwardly pausing before assigning Katie’s gender pronoun of “he”. I also keep fucking up saying Katie’s name at home. Katie is endlessly patient with me and I am able to catch it when it happens and quickly apologize, but I don’t like the little paper-cut wounds I imagine it causes her ego. I also hate keeping secrets. I have a new-found appreciation for those who keep them for decades. I can’t imagine the life people lead while staying in the closet. I’ve only just inherited mine 5.5 months ago and I’ve hated every second of it. In addition to gender pronouns and name, I want to be able to tell my coworkers the true story of what I did this last weekend. Example: “I signed Katie up for Stitch Fix and we tried on her own women’s clothes for the first time.” This statement is way different from “I signed my husband up for Stitch Fix.” I’m experiencing so many firsts in my life and the people I spend 45-50 hours a week with had no idea.

Every person I have told has been endlessly supportive, including my coworkers. I don’t know how to explain my intuition on this, but I knew none of them would judge me to my face. I believe this in part a sign of the times we live in now, which are much more accepting and less judgmental. I’m grateful for that. That said, every person I tell about Katie, including my coworkers, has asked the inevitable question: Am I a lesbian now?  Shoot, just last night, I was asked this question in a writing class I’m taking by a complete stranger. I’m not offended by any means, as I have asked myself this question. Another sign of the times. I’m sure at some point I’ll read this post in the future and cringe. Maybe I will accept that I am a lesbian. For now, my answer has been unwavering and consistent: I have no idea.

I don’t think I am a lesbian. Now, I know I am based on the limited criteria put forth by our English language. I know that if I am female (check!) and in a relationship with a woman (check), by default, I check the lesbian or bi-sexual box. That said, imagine for a moment that Katie and I cannot make this work, that our marriage ends. When I start dating again and fill out an online profile, I’m not interested in women. Currently, I am not suddenly looking at the human market and thinking “this world got twice as big!” So what am I? It’s awkward when people ask me. I know they are asking because as humans we have to categorize people. Right now our American society categorizes people by sex, gender, ethnicity, and religion. I am the wife of a transgender human. I identify as a CIS white woman whose spouse is a transgender woman. I am a person who is more than the box you check on a dating profile. There has to be another word for me and those like me. We are the spouses. We are the ones who are experiencing PTSD after unknowingly RSVP-ing to an unwelcome gender and sexual identify crisis being caused by the discovery of our spouses own deep-rooted struggle with their gender and sexual identity crisis. We are the brave ones asking the hard questions that our society isn’t ready to answer. We are bad-ass. We have earned the right to question the categorization of our identity by those around us. Am I a lesbian? I have no idea. There has to be another word for what I am. I hope one day I find it.

10 thoughts on “Am I a lesbian?

  1. In different ways, I’ve struggled with labels too. I’m all honesty, I feel like our labels for sexual preference is outdated by our concept of gender, and that gender is a lot more complex that the labels make it out to be, making it hard for circumstances like yours. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Labels are never 100% accurate are they? I’m curious where we will be in 10 years on this topic. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s very little information about the interaction of spouses with their transgender partners. I personally don’t know anyone in my life going through this experience or have friends of friends going through it. The lack of information makes figuring out where I fit in tricky. Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s nice to know that in different ways someone else asks the same questions. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I can definitely understand how the lack of information really does isolate and make things difficult to figure out. I’m glad you’re blogging and sharing your experiences, that’s how we can make connections and help the next person needing information!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Why should you have a label? The human character is so complex that it stunts me how everyone wants to fit into only one category of being. Theres no need for words or labels, emotions are complex just the humans that feel it; in my opinion it would be a shame to try to describe that complexity with only one simple word.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I totally agree. I think it’s human nature to categorize and I’m no exception to falling victim to this. Personally, I have a lot of unanswered questions, and a label seems so easy upon first thought, but it’s not. I went from knowing who I was when comparing myself to the standard definitions as provided in our society, to having to navigate a new space for my identity. This journey is not as simple as a label or answering questions about whether I’m a lesbian. I try to convey that in my response to people when they ask. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Im glad that theres people in your life that are supportive of everything youre going through, willing to listen to your situation and trying to understand. But remember to live for yourself and not others.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just because you happen to be in a lesbian relationship, doesn’t mean you are a lesbian.

    The variety of human characteristics is as varied as the population of the world. Sexuality is not static, or easily categorized. Everyone, I believe, is a lot more flexible than I think our culture wishes to allow. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that you love *this* woman.
    But that fact says little about your sexuality beyond hinting you are at least open to trying to love this specific woman.

    The only truth is that you are who you say you are… Just like Katie. You are now fighting the same fight that Katie and I and all the other transfolk have always been fighting, identity is what we say we are. Identity can’t and should not be dictated from without, but only confirmed from within. When any human being asserts their identity, just listen and accept.

    When you decide what this means for yourself, I will do just that. I will listen to you, and accept what you feel is best.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I get this question too (I’m the trans spouse), but it also usually comes with the other questions “are you gay?” & “are you attracted to men?”. I look at these people incredulously and reply, “No, I’m a woman and I’m happily married to my wife. That doesn’t make me gay.” Usually I get a confused look in response, so I explain “I’ve always been attracted to my wife – since the moment I first laid eyes on her; I still am. For all those years, I considered myself heterosexual, because in pretty much every way, I was. Now that I have discovered the truth that I’m actually a woman, the quality of my love and attraction for my wife has not changed a bit. Why should the label change when the love and attraction has not?”

    Most people accept that answer, but occasionally I’ll get someone who just can’t let it go, so I’ll explain “look, if something were to happen and (God forbid) we weren’t together any more, then if I were to date, I would only be interested in dating women. At *that* point I would consider myself a lesbian. But not while we are still together.”

    There’s an unspoken part of this that I’m still exploring: I feel like I’ve flown under the radar for so long that in essence, I haven’t *earned* the label yet; I haven’t felt the hatred that bigots direct towards LGB people, I haven’t faced the discrimination LBG people have. When we decided to marry, we went to the courthouse and filed the paperwork with no issues, even though gay marriage was still 20 years in the future. I’m earning the TQ+ experience now, and I carry the transgender label as a badge of honor.

    But lesbian? Not yet. (And how screwed up is it that I don’t feel like I’ve suffered enough to claim the label “lesbian”?)

    Like

    1. Similar to you, my wife struggles with her identity now that I’ve shared my truth. She strongly feels that she is not lesbian, and I believe and respect that. But we are still in love, so there’s the conflict of how to identify the nature of our relationship.

      This sets up an especially difficult situation: she has difficulty seeing me as a woman, because if she does see me that way, then she feels that she *can’t* be attracted to me (because she isn’t a lesbian); but if she can’t see me as a woman, then she isn’t seeing the real me – all of me. It’s a paradox: to love me completely, she has to see me as a woman, which prevents her from loving me as a partner/spouse.

      Liked by 1 person

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