A few days ago, my Lady Love and I were wandering through the centre of the City, when a middle-aged man on a bike slowed to a halt in front of us and said “Lesbiaaaans!” in a loud voice. Then rode off. Well, he was 50% right, but I’m still not quite sure what his motivation was. My immediate reaction, weirdly enough, was not to chase after him and tip him off his bike, but a sense of upset that I couldn’t put him right on a few things. After all, chasing after him shouting “Excuse me, sir, I just want to talk to you about my gender identity!!” would be a bit strange.

Now we all know that you can’t tell someone’s sexuality from the way they look, but people do have very stereotyped expectations of “what a lesbian looks like”, and I suppose the Mrs and I both conform to some of those stereotypes. Except that one of us IS a lesbian, and one is a man, who therefore handed in his Lesbian Club membership card some time ago. I identified as a lesbian very proudly for nearly a decade, and I don’t find being called one an insult – why would it be? – except that that is definitely not how I wish to be identified now. For more on this, please see my earlier post So, does that make you both straight now?

My partner and I actually don’t do each other any favours. She identifies very strongly as a lesbian, and does not wish to lose this identity. Sure, she’s married to a transguy, but that doesn’t change her central identity, nor her sexuality. The trouble is, the more like a man I look, the more often she is read by people who don’t know her as straight. Sadly, even some of the people who DO know her have assumed that me transitioning has miraculously changed her sexuality.

The thing is, if people read her as a lesbian, then look at me for confirmation, they are far more likely to assume we are a lesbian couple (me being the REALLY butch one!) and until I grow an enormous beard, that will probably continue to be the case.

So, if I am read correctly, it is to the detriment of Will’s identity, and if she is read correctly, it is to the detriment of mine. And short of getting forehead tattoos proclaiming our preferred identity (which I don’t think would go down very well at work) I guess we both have to ‘suck it up’. Alternatively, we can hope that as society starts to get a clue, people will make fewer assumptions based on appearance and who we are standing next to. I shan’t hold my breath.

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