Settling the score

Today, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

by Hayden Smith
Staff Writer

I came out as a trans man when I was a sophomore in high school. You would think this would give me some challenges having an active dating life and yet I still managed to have my fair share of partners. In particular, I attracted a lot of confused boys.

We’d both go into the relationship with an agenda. The boys would either be experimenting in their own sexualities or experimenting with my gender identity, usually to “convert” me back to womanhood. On the flip side, I would always try to “convert” them to queerness.

A lot of them didn’t know how to interact with my gender. Some would try to convince me that the changes I wanted to make to my body would be too weird or immoral and that I should reconsider for them. Some asked if it was okay if they called me a girlfriend to their families. Quite a few wanted to keep the relationship a secret, which was exciting the first few times, but quickly lost its novelty.

Frequently they’d joke about being “a little gay,” say they were only “gay” for me, or tell me I was their “exception” to straightness. The words “bisexual” or “pansexual” were never a part of their vocabularies.

I identified as pansexual, which still isn’t very far off from my feelings today. This led to a lot of confusion on my part, not only with those jokes but with the number of boys who broke up with me by saying “I’m not gay.” Technically, neither am I.

Every time another boy broke my heart, my old friends always tried consoling me by saying that I should just date bisexual people – because bisexual people would like “both” parts of me.

I questioned my own gender frequently. If it caused so many problems, was it worth it? I was led to believe that being trans marked me as an “other” and made me undesirable. I started to buy into the half-and-half rhetoric and believed it made me unlovable.

Of course, I am not half-female and half-male, as both my friends and my exes assumed. That was the whole problem. Straight boys assumed there was some female side of me they could get their hands on, then turned away when they realized I was entirely the man I said I was all along.

Even then, how could I date a bisexual person as they suggested when I was surrounded by people who didn’t acknowledge the very existence of bisexuality?

It was a whirlwind of emotions and internalized phobias – transphobia, homophobia and biphobia all wrapped up together.

Fast forward a few years down the line and several of the same boys who broke up with me to preserve their heterosexuality eventually concluded that they were queer. It took some time and some self-reflection, but they sorted it out for themselves.

Today I have better friends and a better sense of self. I have the confidence to know that I am one hundred percent male, regardless of society and the good sense to leave any partner or “friend” who tries to tell me any differently.

Despite the strangeness of it all, I still appreciate that time in my life and the relationships I had, recognizing them for what they were. I realized what I wanted and needed, what I would and would not put up with and what changes I could never make for anyone. And though I would prefer not to be anyone’s little “experiment” ever again, I still do take pride that I helped old friends, some of whom are still friends today, in discovering more about themselves.

Or, in not so many words, the conversion score was three for me, straight boys zero.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – May 17, 2017 @ 7:10 a.m.