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Translove: Is Preference More About Desire Or Is It Political?

Posted on August 6, 2008
Filed Under Gay/Lesbian, Women | 2 Comments

transsymblo.jpgBy Rosalind Lloyd

One evening I was sitting around with a bunch of friends having cocktails. We’re in our 30’s and better, artists mixed with professional women, well traveled, well read and well ensconced into our “lesbian” lifestyles. Most of us are either “married,” in committed relationships or dating. After a few rounds, the atmosphere became more relaxed and we started talking shit, talking about how hot and how in shape we thought we were for our age, boasting about our libidinous pasts, bragging about all the hot women we’ve had or what we would do if we suddenly found ourselves single at this stage in our lives. Some insisted that dating again would be a blast. Others said they didn’t look forward to getting back into the scene where finding a suitable life partner might be highly problematic. Obviously inebriated, we delved into the possibilities of engaging in anonymous sex, threesomes, group sex, wondering if being in a polyamorous or open relationship would even be cute at 40? What being a divorced lesbian at 35 years of age with 2 children would look like with respect to finding love? The conversation went all over the place with a variety of different scenarios thrown into the intoxicating mix, but the real show stopper, the very thing that jolted the conversation was, would anyone date a transperson/transidentified/gender different and/or gender questioning individual?

Some exchanged these nervous stares, some shook their heads negatively while others didn’t hesitate with their “hell no’s.” Since I happened to be the one who tossed the topic into the ring in the first place, I needed to know why the hell no’s felt the way they did. Well, as expected, these forward thinking, well rounded women didn’t have very open minded explanations for their well executed hell no’s at all. In fact, most couldn’t even explain why they would never go out with someone who was trans-identified. They just knew that they wouldn’t.

Is it really just a matter of preference? Maybe. Personally I’ve always been fascinated with identity. I love all derivatives of female identities. From the highest, lipstick wearing, stiletto wielding fem to the hardest, deep voiced, dildo packing, butch swagger walking. Bi-sexual women? No problem. But dating a transperson transcends female/male identities as we know them, possibly redefining our own sense of identity in the process. Some would say I don’t mind going where many women wouldn’t dare to go. But this is more of a bigger statement about my own identity. I acknowledge the fact that I’m much more open than my peers. I’m willing to stretch my experiences to the limit, if there even is a limit. Variety being the spice of life is more than a notion to me. But the larger question is whether or not my choices or openness with respect to preferences is more of an unconscious political decision more than simply preference? Are the decisions of my friends to completely forgo even considering dating a transperson more about politics than preference and desire? Why is it so easy for them to knock something they haven’t even tried? And to take it one step further is preference a form of discrimination? I guess the same argument could be had about race. Is dating people of one specific race about preference or is it unconsciously political? Are you discriminating against groups of people because of your racial preference? Or because you’re uncomfortable with gender fluidity? Just to pare all of this down, I think maybe I’m just one of those hopeless romantics who feels that you can’t help who you fall in love with. If you were deaf and blind and presented merely with the warmth, the touch and the essence of an individual and from that it was demonstrated to you how they would shower you with their love, their kindness, understanding and passion. Suddenly their race, their gender identity, would all be secondary.

I know what it’s like to be discriminated against. I’ve been called the N word and the D word to my face and behind my back. I’ve been chastised because of the way I wear my hair, my fashion choices, my music choices and even because I’ve dared to date butch or bi or big women. C’est la vie. I’m a proud African American woman, an out and proud lesbian whose dated those who considered themselves Black, White, mixed race, Latina, Asian, Native American, African, European, Middle Eastern. I’ve dated Buddhists, Christians, Jewish, Muslims, Atheists. I’ve dated Democrats, Republicans and Independents. I’ve dated skinny woman, athletically diesel to plus size. I’ve dated blue collar to white collar to no collar. I’m fairly worldly. I’ve been to five of the seven continents and I have a deep and committed curiosity about the world we’re living in. I’m in a long-term committed relationship of my dreams with a partner I couldn’t imagine life without, in my own private version of a queer nuclear family. Couldn’t be happier. But if I ever found myself in the position of being single, would I ever date a FTM transperson? The answer would be absolutely! Why not? But, when the question was posed back to me would I ever date a MTF transperson, I was forced to go back to consider whether preference is political or based on desire. Suddenly this invisible line in the sand was drawn. So I wasn’t as open-minded as I claimed to be after all. Of course this propelled me to do some of my own quiet reflection. Who am I to judge anyone with respect to their politics or their preferences? Because it must be a beautifully, tumultuous combination of politics and preference that rules our desire. At least as far as I can tell.


2 Responses to “Translove: Is Preference More About Desire Or Is It Political?”

  1. jul on August 7th, 2008 12:56 pm

    Interesting take on women and the trans-identity…being in a long-term, monogamous, relationship myself…I thought about “what if my partner discovered she was trans” and how would that affect things? What it came down to for me, was that love was love…I would likely seek a female form, but if the spirit I loved was in the “wrong frame,” I’d be fine with her/him anyday of the week.

    Just a thought.

    Rosalind Reply:

    Hi Jul,
    Actually that’s a great point and something I didn’t consider. I’m with you in that if my partner experienced a shift in gender, I would totally be fine with her/him as well. The powers of unconditional love are profound, but what I thought was also interesting was say a parent was gender questioning or even a child of yours. No question, particularly as queers, we’d love our families unconditionally (- but that doesn’t automatically take away the intensity and complexity of the experience.
    Thanks so much for sharing.