Originally posted on Thought Catalog January 20, 2013
I identify as a straight woman, and my boyfriend is a transman. Though I am fine with the situation, I am really nervous about telling my parents. I fear they won’t see him as a ‘him.’ What can I do to make this situation safe and healthy for all of us?
This is such a tough situation. It’s not only like coming out (which is hard, because you identify as straight), but it’s also explaining something that’s most likely completely foreign to your family. Though I don’t have any experience on the subject, I would like to be able to guide you in ways to be safe for you, your partner, and your family.
Before you talk to your family, are you equipped? Have you and your boyfriend sought out counseling, groups, or any form of support? It may be best to find a group of people that are similar to you so that as you go through this experience, you’ll have others that can not only listen, but relate. Friends are great for listening, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard to truly share in the experience when they haven’t gone through it. Be sure to check your local LGBTQ center, or do some online research.
Once you feel like you’ve got your love army behind you, remember that it’s not about force. You stated in the message you sent me that you know they’ll never fully understand; you just want to do your best. And with that attitude, I promise that you will. It drives my girlfriend nuts, but I always play out scenarios with her. Maybe try this out: what would you do, really, if your family decided flat out that they didn’t support you, your boyfriend, or your relationship anymore? Would you be prepared for that? Could you be? Or, the opposite: they are completely supportive, they ask questions that are open-ended and with love. That’s just a great scenario to play out. Chances are, it’s going to be somewhere in the middle of them wanting to love you and see your boyfriend for who he is, but struggling to do so. It may help to go in by giving an explanation: you still identify as straight, your boyfriend identifies as _______ (I’m sorry, you never told me where he is on the spectrum, so I don’t want to make any assumptions), and that your boyfriend has taken steps to fit into his gender identity. Give him a chance to explain the process – in as much or as little detail as he feels okay with – and then open the floor for questions. Your family may be stunned, so be sure to give time and space if necessary. That’s all right, too. If it takes a few days before they’re ready to talk, be sure to give them that. It’s a lot to drop on them. The way that my mom worded my coming out that angered me at first and now makes sense is that she didn’t dream of her daughter being with women, and even though there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s something she needed to get used to. The odds of your family closing their eyes and imagining you with someone that identifies as trans* are slim to none. Keep that in mind.
Please remember to have that support system intact. They’ll be there to help you and provide support. Even if it’s just one person, it’s someone who has been through this in some way, shape, or form. For support groups that fit your situation in your area, visit http://www.ftmi.org/
How can I meet lesbians in my area? I haven’t lived in my new location for very long, and I am so awkward, shy, nervous, and probably stupid.
First off, no you aren’t. Stop that. You are awesome. You are officially stripped of your stupid title and now crowned Queen of Lovely. Congratulations!
Okay. I’m gonna share this with you: I am still incredibly awkward around other lesbians. I feel like they’re all just so damn cool! Hilariously, my girlfriend and I were out to dinner last night and she said that if she didn’t know who I was, she’d be terrified to approach me because I have cool hair, glasses, and earrings. And since I am the least cool girl I know (not in the whole ‘blunt object to deflect self-doubt’ way, Anne Hathaway…ugh don’t get me started), I came to realize that for the most part, lesbians…they’re just like us!
It’s weird to think of approaching other queer folk and being like “Hi, you are wearing flannel. Your hair looks styled and I see you have tattoos and cools shoes. I hope you are gay, and I want you to be my friend always and forever!” So don’t do that. Here’s how I found myself getting more comfortable with the lezzers in my ‘hood:
1 – The internet. Yes. I know this may sound like retreating, but I thought it was the most important and relevant. I scored big on writing a Queer Girl City Guide for Denver when I moved here. I didn’t know much about the city, and I was tired of bitching to my girlfriend about not knowing any other lesbians. So, I sought them out. I went to places that the internet told me were full of the queer ladyfolk. I hung out around my neighborhood at places I thought were cool. I did this as a ‘project’ for two months, and it not only ended up with me finding my favorite places to hang out, it landed me with so many other lesbians who commented saying that they, too, were looking for queer gals to hang out with! I now see them on the regular, and it’s so fun to spot each other out. We’re always like “Hey girl, hey!” and it makes us feel like we’re clued into the lesbian scene. See if you can find any Autostraddle-esque meetups in your area. Check Facebook or Meetup for anything that sounds remotely like a lesbian hang.
2 – Creep. That’s what I did for the article, and it’s still what I do today. If I see onelesbian in a place, I then decide if it seems queer-friendly. Then I go there a lot. I make eye contact. I smile. I say hello. I make pals! Chances are your local coffee shop is a good place to start. It’s a fact: lesbians love coffee and/or tea.
3 – Just go to the gay bar already. I know it might be intimidating if you’ve A – never been to the gay bar in your town by yourself before, B – never been to a gay bar by yourself, or the ever-daunting C – never been to a gay bar, but trust me, you’ll make it. If there’s no gay bar where you live, you are just wrong, probably. If there are gays, you’ll find them (have you seen Small Town Gay Bar?!) Dress in what makes you feel the most confident. Go up to the bar and order your favorite drink. Lean against the bar in an inviting fashion. I promise that you won’t be lonely for long, even if it’s just for one friendly dance or chat. If you want to make lovers and/or friends (please read that in Ludacris’ voice like I did), that light you’ll emit will make you warm and inviting. The ladies will flock to ya, I swear up and down by it! Good luck! You’re gonna get it. Treat yo’ self.
I think I’ve used my vibrator too much, because I cannot get off from the touch of my own hand or from my girlfriend. I think I’ve overstimulated – help!
Okay. First things first – you cannot ruin your downstairs from too much vibe. So relax and get that thought out of your head. This problem can be solved!
Miss Alison’s Share Time: I did not own a vibrator until not too shy of a year ago. Gasp! Shock! The horror! I know. My previous long-time partner did not believe in them – there was a thought that he should be the only one getting me off. That’s fine and dandy, but he couldn’t do that. It was a long six years. But I digress. Upon becoming the owner of a brand new pantyfriend, I decided that I never wanted to leave my bed. Are you kidding me? Orgasms whenever I wanted them? Even if my girlfriend wasn’t in the mood? YES, PLEASE.
It turns out that those orgasms got old fast for me. It’s not much fun when it’s just one, ya know what I mean? But I noticed that it was taking me a lot longer to get off…long enough that both my lady and I were kind of exhausted by our own sex. That’s not a good place to be. I panicked and searched “addicted to my vibrator” online and was immediately eased. I’m not the only person that has had this fear. And now, to save you time, let me break down for you what I did so we can solve this problem together! Here, grab my hand. It’s gonna be all right.
First things first: you can’t quit that ish cold turkey. It’s unrealistic to think that if you use toys now that you won’t use them in the future. You just need to retrain your outerparts to understand that there’s lighter stimulation that can get you off. If your vibrator has different strength vibes, turn them down to half of what you’re used to. If it’s a one-speed, put on a pair of jeans or put a blanket in between you and your vadge. You’re going to need to tone down the strength of stimulation for step one of this retraining.
Next, once you’ve got the tone-down happening, it’s time for step two: finish yourself off! You can get yourself going, but once you feel like you’re close, put down the vibrator and switch to your hands. Old school. Get yourself used to what you used to do before you became a vibe-addict. It’s totally that learning-to-ride-a-bike-again thing. You can do it!
You’re almost done. Third, if you’re comfortable with it, tell your lady what’s up. Explain that you fell for your vibrator. It’s not her, it’s you. Etc. Then, explain that you need her help! You need her to take her sweet time to do what she does best. Practice makes perfect. Boom! Problem solved.
Now. This method worked for me, but it may not work for you. I promise that there’s no such thing as a vibrator addiction: the best that the body does is it re-configures nerve endings so that you get off in different parts of your clitoris. You aren’t overstimulating yourself into a problem. I promise. You’ll be okay. Start thinking of it as something to use with your partner, or if you really CAN’T seem to get off by your own touch (it happens sometimes.) Happy playing, and best of luck!