Over at Helen Boyd’s blog, the question comes up of whether partners of transpeople identify as being under the LGBT umbrella – Helen herself says “I’m the Q that gets left off a lot,” which makes sense to me. I wanted to leave a comment but I’ve never been able to successfully register on Helen’s site to do so, so I decided to make a post of my own to discuss the topic.
In order to be attracted to, and have a successful relationship with someone who is considering, or has crossed over the gender barrier, does a person need to have a little Q in them? I suspect the answer is yes but I’m well aware that this is a very sensitive subject touching on not only how the cisgender* partner self-identifies, but also how their transgender partner might feel about the way s/he is seen in relationship to her/his cis partner once s/he has fully transitioned. If a wife considers herself straight while married to a man, and continues to consider herself straight after her spouse has transitioned to become a woman, wouldn’t that mean that either she still sees her spouse as male, or that she no longer feels that erotic energy towards her mate? Neither of which would seem, to me, to be a good thing for either spouse. Or is there a way to really and truly feel that you are only attracted to one gender, except for the unique and singular case of the person you have already spent much of your life with? I’d still argue that in this case, there’s a little queerness creeping in!
There’s also the question of the difference between a relationship that started before transition was even contemplated, and a relationship that didn’t begin until after transition was complete. In the latter case, I would assume that someone who was prepared to make a lifetime commitment to a post-transition partner with all that that entails would already have identified themselves as a little off the straight track, although I can see that for the trans partner, having someone willing to make that commitment while remaining firm in his/her straight identity would be very affirming. (I’m not talking about post-transition relationships where there has been no disclosure, as that’s a topic in and of itself.)
I’m not a big believer in labels myself, but in the case that triggered the original post (the application of LGBT scholarships), I suppose it is important to “find what fits”. Those of you out there reading who are in relationships right now, how do you (or your partner) view this? Does it apply? What possibilities have escaped my notice?
* Editor’s Note: “Cisgender” refers to a person whose gender identity and biological sex, as assigned at birth, match. Contrast that to a transgender person in whom those factors diverge.