As Meredith Brooks famously said, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint, I do not feel ashamed.” Identity cannot be housed by a single word, and you shouldn’t be ashamed if your identity spans multiple groups. If you gather a group of bisexuals together, there is no one way they would look, act, feel, or be (unless you make them sit in chairs, then they will all sit with their legs over the arms). There are Black bisexuals, disabled bisexuals, and transgender bisexuals, among many other intersecting identities. I happen to be a transgender bisexual, and I am not ashamed.
When I first came out as transgender, after about 10 years of identifying as a lesbian, my (straight cisgender) friends were a little confused. We were sitting in our cozy, college-town apartment, gathered on a couch we were sure our landlord had been born on, when they asked the big question: “So, are you straight now?” Hmm. I’m a trans man, dating women. Am I straight now? Some (rude) people don’t acknowledge my status as a man, so maybe they would consider me a lesbian. Some (well meaning) people recognize me as a man and would say I’m straight. I didn’t really know how to answer, though.
I had been bisexual in my teen years, but I ended up dating more women than men. My first boyfriend, way back in middle school, was sweet and caring and deeply troubled. We bonded over our parents’ marital struggles, trampolines, and video games. The first time we kissed, his mouth was covered in chocolate from the M&Ms he was eating and which I was throwing at my step dad’s car (sorry, Warren!!). The relationship devolved when a frenemy told the whole school about me being bisexual. It broke his heart that I liked girls as well as guys.
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Happy Pride. This face is something I had to demand from the world. I had to wake up every day and be brave enough to say I Do Not Care if other people are uncomfortable. I’m a trans man, and I’m a brave person. To this day I still have to come out. I have to come out at the dentist, the tailor, the library. Little things other people don’t worry about. In those moments my cheeks might blush and I might be annoyed, it depends on the day. But it’s worth it. I’ve known I was a guy since I was a little kid and it took me until I was 21 to finally admit it to myself and my closest friends. I’m glad I took that step. I used to think I would have to die and hope that in my next life I would come back as a boy. Or maybe heaven would be where I got to be a boy. Due to the fight and bravery of my elders, I didn’t have to wait until my next life. I’m me today, tomorrow, and always. Thank you to the protestors at Stonewall. Thank you to the whole Queer community. Thank you to my community. I love you and I’m so glad you love me. #happypride
I do think it’s scary to know that your partner might leave you for someone of another gender. It’s vulnerable to think there’s a part of your body that they want, an act that you cannot deliver them. But his rejection still left me feeling confused and hurt. Soon after, I fell in love with a few girls, then I started dating another guy a few years later. He was, simply, irresistible. He had a purple mini van, a luscious beard, and was genuinely the kindest person I had ever met. I tragically ruined that relationship all by myself. I compared dating him to eating vegetables: I knew he was good for me, but I was craving something that inspired the frenetic energy of an ice cream sundae.
After that relationship, I overcompensated by trying to be more masculine when I was with feminine women. Before I transitioned, when I was dating women and the world saw us as lesbians, I was very jealous and protective. To me, it felt like if my girlfriend left me for a man it meant I wasn’t man enough. But, maybe that’s how most men feel. I wouldn’t know, I do not talk to them (just kidding). Once I came out as trans and started passing, that pressure lifted enough for me to acknowledge that I am still attracted to men.
The real answer to the question asked years ago on that couch is, actually, I’m bisexual. But if I wasn’t, I guess I would be straight? IDK. I guess I don’t have to decide that. I don’t know if anyone does — at least not for anyone else.
Even now, I still get really jealous when I think of my girlfriend leaving me for a cisgender man. She also happens to be bisexual. I sure as hell didn’t mind her being open minded about her sexuality when she decided to try dating a trans man. On our first date, I asked her what made her want to date a trans guy and she responded, “I didn’t really think about it too much”.
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I love her. I love how she is open minded and experimental and curious. Is it patriarchal thinking that I wouldn’t be offended if she left me for a woman? Does that mean I wouldn’t take that relationship seriously? I don’t think that’s the case. I think I just know how great women are and I would understand her wanting to be with one. If she left me for a guy named John I would try to understand too (I have only ever dated guys named John).
“Hey!” you might be thinking, “that’s not fair! You didn’t give me an answer!” Sorry, kiddos. Yes, it’s complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Physics is complicated but I still had to take the AP exam. Every single person on this planet is a culmination of more than one identity. That’s why Audre Lorde introduced herself as a Black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet. There’s explosive diversity in each of us. Identities aren’t contradictions if they are inside of you, living together. Your ferocity can inspire a poem. Your trans identity can make you feel confident enough to see the beauty in more than one gender. And we’ve all seen the Fairly Odd Parents episode of what would happen if we were all gray blobs. So keep being you, you beautiful, wild you.