Because life goes on and that, I posted a personal ad on a dating site that I'm not going to name here. And so I went on a date. With a straight woman.
She seems like a nice woman and may one day read this, so I'm not going to talk about her here, but I do want to talk about the evening.
Back when I was a lesbian, I knew to stay away from straight girls because of straight girl syndrome. Some straight women will treat lesbians as a lark or an experiment or a distraction, which can be bad if you get your feelings caught up in. Better to stay away.
But I'm not in that position anymore. I'm a man who likes women. And I've limitted myself to bi women, but that's a small population of people, in comparison with the larger pool of all women who like men. There are just a hell of a lot of straight women around; many of them are good looking; many of them are good people, so why not give it a go?
Did she know?
So, when to disclose? There are a lot of people who have never knowingly met a trans person. And there's a whole lot of negative stereotypes, misunderstanding and transphobia in society. I suspect that many people would reject a trans person out of hand, motivated by ignorance, rather than malice. (Of course, these two things can be hard to tell apart.) Therefore, I decided I'd rather be evaluated on my merits or lack thereof and thus not disclose on my personal ad. And If I say something on the first date, it would overwhelm any other get-to-know-you blahblahblah. So my current plan is to disclose on the third date or before serious snogging, whichever comes first.
So I was sat across from my date and we were talking about our pasts. But this thing about who I was and who I am runs through my past like a mighty river. My queer identity is fundamental to my sense of self. And yet, apparently, I'm also straight.
The jacket I wear most often (but not that night) has a badge on it that says "transgender." I hate discolsing. But more, I hate not disclosing. It's unnerving. And it's even more unnerving, when I try to talk about what I'm doing with my life. I joined the London Gay Winds, because, um, I wanted to play tuba, and um. I go to a queer bar because it's fun and um, my band has played there a few times.
I feel that my presentation of heterosexuality is not credible. And so I was unnerved.
Both I and my date have both been divorced and so we talked a bit about that:
Me: So I was married too.
Her: You got married in the States?
Me: In Canada, actually.
Her: Why did you get married in Canada?
The real answer is because same sex marriage was legal there but not at home. Which I probably should have remembered before automatically saying "in Canada." Normally, it's a pretty good story. It ends with the first same sex divorce in the state of California. But, since I'm not discolsing, I now need a dfferent answer to something that I shouldn't have brought up.
Me: For the Elvis impersonator!
It felt like lying. And probably made me look like a nutter. But, I mean, that chapel employs the best Elvis impersonator in Canada, so . . . yeah, I looked like a nutter.
And because we had been talking a bit about how marriage interacts with legal residency status:
Her: Was that valid in the states, then?
Hahahaha, well, it should be according to international law, but the Defense of Marriage Act had been interpretted to mean that the US can ignore international same sex marriages, which, since it's a treaty violation, makes that application of DOMA unconstitutional. But it was good enough for a divorce, so:
Me: More or less
In the bad old days, being trans was like joining the witness protection program. You had to change your name, leave town and lie about your past. You weren't supposed to tell anybody, or doctors could retaliate by taking away your hormones, which has serious health consequences. In these more enlightned times, the NHS just makes you change your name, but you don't need to move or be stealth. And, god, how could I? I went to a women's uni for my undergrad.
But really, I don't know if the unnerving bit is trying to pass for straight. Or that I seem to be succeeding at it. Or that it's what I might be now.
A man and a woman out on a date. What could be more heteronormative than that?