Mira Goes Het – Way, Way Het

I intimated recently that you should expect this post. Teri’s been writing about stuff that’s been going on with him, over at his excellent blog, throwing all kinds of foreshadowing (reader*, note the stylistic difference between Exhibit A and Exhibit B, and Teri’s newest blog, on trans men reclaiming manhood… #SorelyNeeded) into the mix.

#NoHomo to be seen, at all?

#NoHomo to be seen here, at all?

We’ve known for some time, that there is, if anything, more diversity of sexual orientation within the trans community than within our cisgender siblings. I’ve commented, before (there’s a little reprise of it in this Gays.com article I did) on how I had felt attraction to men, prior to transitioning, but trying to date gay men, as a man, had been a miserable disaster. I had accepted being a heterosexual man as the only sensible option available to me, but I knew that wasn’t right, either. When I finally became honest with myself, and started coming out, my attractions did trend right back to men. And then I met Teri. And all I knew was she held the door. Teri fit the bill – first as my Prince Charming who used she and her pronouns, and now just as my Prince Charming.

And so, suddenly, with Teri’s own newfound openness, I’m a straight person, again. Interestingly, it’s really hard, within the visible elements of the trans community, to find a trans man + trans woman couple. There were Arin Andrews and Katie Hill, for a hot minute, but at least as a couple, they didn’t last (this isn’t a criticism, they seem to both be doing very well, and to have remained close, and more power to them!). There are one or two stories like this one, about a trans couple having children. These stories tend to be transition-centric, and in the case of the Andrews/Hill relationship, transient. Really, our love is neither transition-centric nor transient. So I guess, we’re going to be defining and owning this space.

I had written, quite some time ago, about my insistence that people who bring gender and sexual diversity (the LGBTQIA+) should retain the term “queer.” I’m starting to come around on this idea, a lot – I have/do act as an ally for people who are different in many other ways. Autism being an obvious example, but at work, also, I’ve acted as an ally for someone on this very specific topic of respecting personal choices related to body modification. However, my queerness is not a moving target – I am still queer. In actuality, my sexual orientation was not a moving target, either. When I came out of the closet, I became honest about what I want and need in a companion. I am attracted, as it turns out, to men and bois*. And Teri fit in this category from the beginning, and he still does, today.

Here, I make a distinction with some of my friends. There is a tendency of sexually fluid people (whether bisexually identified or not), interestingly, to impose the assumption of their experience on other people – for instance, by saying something like, “It’s the heart that matters, the plumbing will take care of itself.” It’s not always so simple, for all of us. Of course it’s the heart that matters, but we don’t all experience our attraction in an “I’m attracted to the person” kind of way – that’s one sexual orientation amongst many. So it’s not all about the plumbing (in the sense of the stories that spend all their time talking “sex change” surgeries), but the physical/chemical attraction is also not always irrelevant. My situation, also, I suppose, is a little different than Tina’s situation (as Alice sees it) on L Word. I am taking no easy road out of anything (although, arguably, when I tell the car dealer I can’t make a decision, because “I have to go home and ask my boyfriend for advice,” I may be treading some fine line).

Where have you been? Oh, right. Stuck in the far reaches of Heteroville, that's right.

Where have you been? Oh, right. Stuck in the far reaches of Heteroville, that’s right.

In our case, in any event, the conversation was a gradual shift in tone. I had jokingly called Teri, “sir,” many times before, when I was very happy being “her” girlfriend. And “Mister.” I had, at one point, had a conversation something like, “Would you want me to call you my wife, when we get married someday? It doesn’t seem quite right. But I would, if that’s what you want.” (Whereas, there is no ambiguity that I want to be a bride/wife). At that time, Teri had said, “I’ll be your husband and your wife.” Interestingly, later, a variant of this conversation happened at work, for him, also – “Would you prefer that I call you ‘he’? I feel so badly calling you ‘she,’ like it doesn’t really fit you, and I want to respect who you are.” In truth, all this time***, I was not “gunning” for any one answer. I love Teri. I’m content – was content, am content, will be content – to be terisexual. Who knows how the introduction of something like testosterone would affect our relationship? But Teri was here to watch me make the jump to clean-burning estrogen, and that was surprisingly uneventful. It might make our love even better. It might pose a hurdle here or there****. All eminently manageable.

That part, actually, is easy. And thus she writes many paragraphs about it. The part that she has been avoiding, thus far, dear reader, is the hard part. As a butch/femme couple, we already had to start having a dialog about heteropatriarchy and the dangers of our queer relationship emulating all its flaws, and acting to strengthen it (making us accomplices). I have had to, before any discussion of pronoun preferences surfaced, confront things like my feeling wholly inadequate as a partner if I do not provide a fresh, hot, home cooked meal at least once a day. How quickly I feel responsible for doing his laundry and cleaning up after him. The tang of annoyance I get at also being the primary economic agent of the household, on top of “taking care of” Teri and Iago. Of how, suddenly, I am dealing with heretofore unexperienced impulses in me, to defer to Teri’s judgment and to want him at the head of my table, to take my place at his side, to chose my actions in a way pleasing to him. And scoffing at the idea that he may be able to weigh in on aesthetic matters.

Reader, I am still a feminist. And I seek to be as radical as she comes. But, although I was never any political lesbian, there was a sort of safety in being a lesbian, much in the sense of pride one feels when buying fair trade, organic coffee – as if our relationship came stamped with some “No Proceeds Went to Support The Patriarchy” badge. The truth, though, is that butchness and masculinity, themselves, bear far more overlap than we generally care to admit, and in truth, a great many butch/femme relationships do function as accomplices to oppression under the patriarchy. If anything, a trans-hetero relationship bears that risk and then some. This statement, that our marriage would, surreally, now be back to a union between one man and one woman, seems to raise the bar, or heighten my awareness of the risk. Suddenly, one goes to get one’s fair trade, organic coffee, in a big SUV*****, replete with guard grilles over the headlights (in case the driver should need to run over the proletariat on the way to Starbucks, no cosmetic damage would be incurred).

Teri and several of our trans guy friends were at an excellent in-between-the-holidays party we threw for the trans community here. We had a really great discussion (because I’m that trans girl who likes to ride in cars with trans boys… and call them by their last names, okay, basically, I am One-Dimensional Female Character from a Male Driven Comedy) about how trans men are reticent to be called men. Sometimes, we all agreed, because their identities are actually non-binary. Sometimes, I argued, because they are afraid of taking their stand within manhood, and being able to embrace the good and fight the bad from within. Because, as men, they lack Gloria Steinems to whom they can unabashedly look up. It occurred to me that, whereas I have a cloud of inspirational women (most of them cis, but many trans also) around me, as role models and inspirations, when I asked Teri, or other trans men, who their role models were, I got … weighty silence. In those cases, I argued, they are indeed binary, and ought, indeed, call themselves men, but they are scared to take up arms and fight within manhood against the patriarchy (I commented, later, because this is what our pillow talk is like, that “man” is the traditional form of reference for adults who use he and him pronouns, and if trans men reject the title, we all need them to do more talking about why and what their choice means).

I also took Teri to task, several days later, because he said, “I wouldn’t ever want to be the breadwinner.” I pointed out that this seemed overly convenient, since I had no similar choice in our life together. He explained what he meant by the comment, and I understand where he’s coming from. In essence, he doesn’t want to force our relationship into a “traditional” configuration. I don’t want that, either. The truth is that, even if Teri could support us financially, I rather like being out changing the world, both for kids with autism and for the LGBTQIA+ community. I also don’t want Teri (or any man, cis or trans), pushed into not being allowed any emotions or into having to be stoic in the face of all odds. I don’t want Teri forced into a job he hates just to keep me in a lifestyle (whereas I love the job that keeps us in our lifestyle right now).

But…I suppose, to whatever extent I have a right, in the binary, to influence what kind of man Teri becomes (or manhood generally), don’t let’s have trans men become the sort of men whose manhood is living in their mom’s basement, because the internet is free, playing Call of Duty all day, and asking me to evaluate them and say they have autism and are thus disabled (okay, so that might hit a particular nerve for me). Manhood, in the traditional binary sense, and the masculinity it accompanies, is bound up in the idea of agency. And I fear for young trans men / boys – some of the ones around me seem not to develop this sense of agency (as seen in many good men, and better yet, in most feminist women). Who want a manhood that involves a wide variety of women solving all their problems for them. So I challenged Teri, in essence, to view his manhood not only in terms of the privileges it affords him, but in terms of the responsibility that comes with that privilege. His blog post represents a way station in that process.

The challenge reflects back on me, too. I’m going to have to learn to be a straight girl, without selling out the movement. I’m going to have to learn how to love my man but remain tall, fierce, and proud, loving my womanhood. To figure out what femininity means, inside the binary, and all my desires to “give” myself to him, in a way that does not destroy my selfhood. I’m going to have to learn to support Teri’s development of a holistic, sustainable, beautiful manhood, without ever asking him to “man up.”  This is going to be really interesting. It’s the first day of 2015, a whole new year, and I think I’m up to this challenge.

* Reader, I snuck this gag into my About Mira, page, but please be forewarned, I am so bowled over by the delicious titling of this piece about my middle namesake, that I cannot stop making reference to it.

** I openly admit (and Teri tolerates) that I find trans men, generally, quite hot – this is in no way meant to be any kind of incentivization to Teri to transition (or not transition).

*** Okay, you know I’m a little impish. There were many conversations, like, “Can I call you a dude?” “What about saying you’re my fella?” Accompanied by endearing, but annoying, Mira-isms.

**** One does not know, for instance, how one feels about facial hair. But one is willing to give this idea a try, because one’s partner wants some. There may need to be a Mira Embraces Lumbersexuality blog post, soon.

***** Reader, I just leased a Prius C. Although, Teri… wants a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. and goddess help my ecofeminist soul, but I find this idea disturbingly sexy.

Calling Out Transphobia … Less?

I think it might behoove us to pick our battles, and respond with a smile and a sense of humor, sometimes. I hope that this doesn’t make me Sheryl Sandberg, and I am not trying to make the “Lean In for Queers” point here.


If I were doing Lean In for queers, I would tell you to man up.
I seem like the least sensible person in the universe
to be telling anyone to man up, particularly
as I continue the process of, well, manning down

I talk about misogyny, but you’ll notice that, so far, I don’t use the term transphobia much in this blog. It’s a real thing. It can make it illegal to use restrooms, deprive us of work, and in some cases, kill us. Part of being a connected queer is attacking this miasma of phobia by giving people a chance to know who we are, rather than hiding in the shadows and letting hatemongers do the public describing of us.

But, on Facebook, I found myself with … less of value to say on the whole topic of Jared Leto and Dallas Buyers’ Club (to be honest I haven’t gotten around to seeing it, but I think it’s in RedBox). I noticed I wasn’t the only trans woman with mixed feelings (Jenny Boylan, as always, brings a lovely balance of insight, perspective, and humor to this). More in my case, it’s a balance of being a person who just can’t hate anything or anyone if I see some small amount of good in them, and that I’m also a very live-and-let-live kind of woman. I don’t talk about transphobia that much on Facebook, either. Especially, I don’t talk about the million and one jokes that I find mildly distasteful, even though feminist scholars are increasingly studying some of this kind of behavior as “micro-aggression.” My point really is that we as a community are spending way too much time cataloging every micro-aggression and calling out everyone from Jesus Christ to Ellen Degeneres out for transphobia. Enough is too much. I’m not oops-shaming people who have chosen to be allies when they say something for which I don’t care. (Do ya like oops-shaming? I’ll also drop in a link to this great blog about abusing the word shaming in the women’s blogging world).

It’s not that I always find these jokes funny. When I can, I do gentle education. But, among my favorite movies, the ones where I know the lines by heart, I choose (yes, choose) to overlook humor I find mildly distasteful. Love, Actually has an unfortunate joke about hiring prostitutes for a bachelor party and how it “turned out they were men.” Music & Lyrics has a comment where the main character criticizes musicians for “wearing panties.” Because of my prism of gender experience as a trans person, I don’t care for these jokes. I still love these movies. I’ve been watching Love, Actually at least once a year for a decade now, and I don’t really ever watch movies even twice anymore. And Hugh Grant dancing is just fundamentally funny (& a little sexy).


Hugh Grant characters are sexy, but if I ever actually had a real
relationship with a man, I would take pretty much any
character Colin Firth ever played. So there, I’m even giving him
more than the usual 300pix width, because yum

I’m also not really backing down on my principles. I still think exclusionary models of feminism are falsely radical, that they are not real feminism, because they spend more time hating out groups than empowering even the women they do accept as women. I embrace anyone’s right to identify their sexual orientation as they wish, and I think there are some people who are fluid by nature and can “choose” things like the political lesbianism of radical feminism and have it help them be more authentically “them,” but I think the way exclusionary radical feminism uses it runs the danger of being tantamount to the same controlling of women’s bodies and experiences of the patriarchy we’re all supposed to be fighting. As a trans woman in love with a lesbian cis woman, who has more lesbian friends than trans friends, I also find the idea that I hate lesbians absurdist (and you can ask my girlfriend if you want independent verification). These kinds of ideas, which mostly take their roots in third wave feminism organized around the “RadFem” identity (everyone more or less agrees whom and what was in the first two waves of feminism; whether there is a third and a fourth wave, and what constitutes what, are a little more contentious), especially when they are about controlling or excluding women, are dangerous to all women. When I first started coming out, I thought that people who spend all their time fighting “TERFs” and other exclusionary / hate-mongering people hiding under the premise of feminism, were being heroines. The truth to me, now, is that this is a waste of time, much like having debates with “creation scientists” take good people and wastes their time.

When “feminists” spend their time arguing
about who is and isn’t a woman, and
who is and isn’t a woman worth empowering,
they need to be more radical, not less radical

We need to stand up against major acts of transphobia. Our sisters and brothers must be safe in the world. It is not okay when states try to make it a crime for us to use the restroom, or when it is open season for us to be fired because of our gender identity. And anyone who thinks I am a man (and that a trans man is, absurdly, a woman) is not an ally. But I think we need to shift the balance far, far, in the favor of publicizing strong and talented trans people, trans stories that go beyond the narrative around facial electrolysis and bottom surgery to how trans people are leading their communities, innovating, and living and loving alongside cis people. We need to do mor to help the cis world, including the cis queer world, have some idea of who and what on earth we are. Judging from all the cis people who have gotten to know me and are very loving and accepting, who enjoy my company, and don’t just include me on principle, I think this has to be a primary arm of our approach to building an inclusive world. For me, it’s simply also consistent with who I am – I am way too full of joy to spend all my time complaining.

Along the way, I may need to be held to my own standard, to not let this blog become negativistic. I did feel the need to start by clearing the air on some differences and nuances in perspective compared to other dominant views within trans and queer advocacy. But I need to spend more time being positive and lifting up, more time telling my story, and not be someone who silences her sisters. Please don’t oops-shame me, but I will accept your gentle reminders to be true to myself, and I’ll love you for it.

Why I Choose Queer

If you know me on Facebook or in person, you know I usually say queer, not gay – I’m proud to be queer. I think “gayborhood” is something straight people came up with who are trying to be supportive but trying too hard, but I’d really like to see more “queerborhoods.”


Okay, so this was on the wall at an art museum
in St. Louis…hard to resist the urge to ask
if I could buy it and put in my house (it’s HUGE!)

Lots of people have strong reactions to the word queer. Truth be told, whereas “gay” started as a code word so that we could communicate discreetly and not raise the attention of straight people, as far as I know, queer started as an insult. We reclaimed it, much like we are reclaiming our streets, our environment, our government, our civic life. So, reason number one that I like the word queer is that my small part in our work to reclaim our world is reflected in how we reclaimed our word.

The next qualm is that we have a long tradition of what we “really mean” when we talk about things like gay rights. We really mean rights for gay men, and maybe lesbians. And social acceptance of gay men, and maybe lesbians. Oh, and we hope they’re white, and affluent, and gender normative, and we hope that the men are flamboyant queens who can give us fashion recommendations and the women can help us with home improvement projects. Trans people led the revolt, before my time, at Stonewall, and yet we are just beginning to see a glimmer of a world with room for us. It’s not okay for us to be pushed to the back burner, with talk of empowering us in 10 or 30 or 50 years when we’ve got all our gay and lesbian rights down. And we need to be talking about poor queer people. And intersex and asexual people. So choosing queer is a visible and open declaration of my intersectionalism and my desire that we build something that has room for all of us (and all of me).

Beyond that, now, I don’t want to play the queerer than thou card (today!). But some of us are…well…more than one kind of queer. I’m not only transgender, but I’m also a somewhat heterocurious practicing lesbian, so if pushed on it, I identify as bisexual, although I’ll just accept the L word one of these days. Some of my trans friends are asexual, and this is a whole learning experience to me, because I don’t understand, intuitively, what it’s like to be asexual any more than I really understand what it’s like to be a man (it’s really a good analogy…the years I spent when I was single and celibate were no more asexuality than the years I’ve tolerated he/him pronouns and bathrooms that have urinals in them (eww, incidentally) make for much of manhood). So third, queer is inclusive not just of more people, but more of the whole person, including all the people who are gender/sex non-conforming in one way or another, from their orientation, to their identity, to their physiology.

To sum this all up, the rainbow we use to advocate for our cause is really emblematic. We need to not just create little chinks in the wall, that say it’s okay to be a flamboyant gay man or a butch lesbian woman, or even okay to be a feminine trans woman or a masculine trans man, when it means that we are, implicitly, saying someone else’s identity or orientation is not okay, and we’re building ourselves up on their backs. So, I choose queer. Whether you are queer or an ally, I hope you do, too.