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Transitioning Gender? How Do People React In Mainstream Communities?

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

With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com, Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com 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 http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com. 

Andi: I’m Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com. 

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)

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