Transitioning Gender? How Do People React In Mainstream Communities?

Transitioning Gender? How Do People React In Mainstream Communities?

When you’re transitioning your gender, how do people react?

With Cathy Vartuli from, Andi Cortland from and Raj.

Cathy: When you’re transitioning gender, what are other people’s reactions when you’re in the mainstream? I’m Cathy Vartuli from 

Andi: I’m Andi Cortland from 

Raj: I’m Raj. I’m married to Andi. 

Cathy: Thanks for being here. You’re transitioning your gender? 

Andi: Yes. 

Cathy: I’m curious for both of you. We talked about sex positive reactions in that community. How about in the mainstream, what have the reactions been when you’ve shared about this? 

Andi: Do you want to start? 

Raj: I think you should go. 

Andi: Mostly confusion or, “Oh that’s interesting,” or, “Wait, they? How do I use they?” 

Cathy: They is the pronoun … 

Andi: They is the pronoun that I prefer to use, so, “Meet Andi, they’re giving a talk at this place.” 

Cathy: I don’t think mainstream people are as educated. The sex positive community is very educated, but the average person out in the world is like, “What?” 

Andi: Right, “Why would you want to use they? You were born a girl, right? You should use she.” 

Cathy: “You kind of look like a girl.” 

Andi: I look super feminine. I’m 5’1″. I have a lighter voice. I’m curvy. It’s hard to not get read as feminine, but then I don’t feel like a guy either so I’m not … 

Cathy: You get to be human.

Andi: I get to be human. Exactly. I feel like a human. Just treat me like a human is what I’d like, but I think the reaction is confusion as in, “What do you mean? Are you a boy or a girl?” I just say, “No.”

Cathy: Our culture is so binary in general. You must fit into this category or this category or you don’t exist. 

Andi: Exactly, but, “Hi, I exist. I love you guys, and I feel human. I don’t feel like a boy or a girl or a man or a woman.” 

Cathy: I love that. Thanks for being so courageous. How about you, Raj? You shared about you’re married. Your partner is transitioning. What has been the response? 

Raj: A bit of the same confusion, where it’s like, “Oh, what does that mean for your marriage? How does that work for you?” I try to answer as best as I can, but one confusion I see is that often that we … I refer to her as she instead of they because that’s the agreement we have, but people around us, our friends … It’s a crowd thing … When I’m in the crowd with them take their cues for what pronouns to use from me. That can be very confusing because then I can’t remember when to use they or she. That’s an interesting thing that I’m noticing a lot. 

Cathy: In San Francisco, I think people are a little more educated than in general, but have you had people … ? I’ve heard in mainstream culture, “If the husband can’t … ” Have people asked about how it makes you feel about your masculinity or your sexuality or your identity? 

Raj: That’s a hard one. Yes, we have certain expectations of what masculinity means, and sometimes it does feel like that is a little bit threatened. I’m like, “Oh, if were man enough, would that change? Would it be different?” That’s just normal, but I have to remind myself that it really has nothing to do with me or my masculinity. It’s more about just what she is and who she is as a person. It’s my responsibility to figure out who I am as a person. Both of us have to get outside of our social norms and restrictions and figure out our own identities. 

Cathy: I love that. I love that you’ve come to clarity with yourself. I know that a lot of the same … When I was coming out as a lesbian many, many years ago before I knew any of this stuff, there was a lot of, “If you just met the right man.” There was I think a lot of the same stereotypes and the same misunderstandings are passed forward to whatever people are transitioning or doing. 

Andi: Right, exactly. 

Cathy: I love that you shared this, and I hope that it helps people. If you have any questions or thoughts about this, we’d love to hear. Please leave comments below. We’ll try to get back to you. 

Andi: Thank you. 

Raj: Thanks.


More articles on improving your communication and relationship skills:

How Do You Transition Your Relationship?

How Do You Handle It If A Gay Person Hits On You? (And You’re Straight)

By | 2016-09-23T14:54:27+00:00 March 11, 2017|Body Image, Dating, Flirting, Relationship Skills, Sex Geeks|