Even in a super supportive community, it can be challenging to change how we identify ourselves, either in relationships (opening up) or gender. How does it feel?
With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com, Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com and Raj.
Cathy: Whether you’re opening up your relationship or transitioning gender or whatever you are doing in your relationship how does that feel as part of the sex positive community, what are your experiences in that place? I’m Cathy Vartuli from the http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Andi: I’m Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com.
Raj: I’m Raj, I’m married to Andi.
Cathy: So you’ve just been through this process and you’re now in San Francisco in this very sex positive world, what has your experience been? You’ve been very generous about sharing about that you’re transitioning gender and opened up your relationship and you’ve both been sharing your experiences, thank you very much. What has it been like in the sex positive community? How has that been received?
Andi: For me it’s been warm and welcoming and fuzzy and happy for the most part, I’ve had people sending me messages saying welcome to the family, I’ve had people say, wow you look really dapper, I’ve had all kinds of great reactions but I was terrified before that. The actual reaction was great but when I first realized that I wanted to play with gender, that I wanted to change my pronouns I was really, really scared that someone was going to walk up to me and say, “You’re not trans enough. You can’t do that. You’re not interested in surgery right now, you’re not interested in hormones right now. You can’t do that.”
Cathy: Yeah I appreciate you sharing that because that can be, there’s a lot of pressure where people are going further, do they own that expression if they’re taking things further, so thank you.
Andi: And I don’t know where it’s going to go, I mean this has been a year and right now saying I’m gender queer and I love wearing men’s clothes and love wearing a packer occasionally which means, for those of you who don’t know, I love wearing a soft penis underneath my jeans sometimes but maybe, I mean that’s where I feel comfortable right now and so that’s what I’m going to do.
Cathy: I love it. How about you Raj.
Raj: So for me I think this is where our experiences diverge a little bit. I find it a little bit difficult to talk about this stuff in public because I’m a straight cis guy and for many people in the sex positive communities who happen to be queer or poly, kinky, all of that stuff, are perceived as somebody with privilege with someone, and so I’m always afraid of offending people by talking about this. But for me this was something, this community is something that I found very much through Andi’s exploration of her own sexuality and gender exploration. I don’t always feel like I fit in very naturally, not that I’m not sex positive in that sense, I support everyone having their sexual expression but I’m not that much of a sexual being myself and sometimes that can be a little bit challenging to feel that I can actually fit in and talk about my perspective on all of this transition and the challenges that I have with all of these transitions.
Cathy: Yeah, we were talking over lunch and you were saying how, I loved your being sad about some changes, agreeing with some changes doesn’t mean that you don’t support somebody.
Raj: That is true, like our relationship has changed drastically over the last year. I mean, it has been changing gradually since we were together in terms of been more open and all of that but over the last year especially with all of the exploration that Andi is in San Francisco, that’s changed drastically, it went from being kind of non-monogamous to completely open, you know, she went from been pretty vanilla to very kinky, gender queer, all of that stuff and while I’ve been as supportive as I could possibly be I do sort of sometimes grieve the relationship we had. I feel sad about it, our connection that we had once that is no longer there and the fact that I have to, in some sense, keep up with all of that. And that doesn’t mean that I support her any less but often it can be perceived that way when you talk about it.
Cathy: Absolutely. People think supporting is cheerleading, “Yeah! This is great.” whereas I think there’s a lot of awareness, there’s growing awareness about the experience of the people that are transitioning and not maybe not as much awareness about the people that are loving them and dealing with the change from the other side.
Andi: Which is hard and I never thought that you didn’t support me, of course you support me, you’re super supportive, you’re amazing and I try to say that in the community you know, I have an awesome husband, I have the best husband ever I wouldn’t trade him for anyone, he’s great and it’s also really hard to see someone that you’re married to that you’ve been with for years and years change their gender expression which is something like pretty fundamental to a person. Sometimes he will ask me who I go to talk to about my perspective and I tried to think through our list of friends in the sex positive community and think, who can we talk to that who will understand that Raj is super supportive of me and he feels sad sometimes and that’s okay and he needs support too.
Cathy: Well I really, just talking about it is a big step forward and I really appreciate you been willing to share because it is, it’s a change on both peoples part. It’s not just one person, I mean it takes a lot of courage for what you’re doing, I really appreciate you and the fact that he is still here loving you and cheering you on even when he feels sad sometimes or confused or unsupported, it’s really beautiful and I really appreciate you sharing so willingly. What would you like in support if you’re going through this? How might you think other people can support people like Raj going through this? We would love your thoughts and we crowd source them and see if we can come up with some brilliant ideas.
Andi: Totally, let us know in the comments.
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