dating

If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

Non-binary people are a weird position in the dating world (ok, I mean, we’re in a pretty weird position all the time to be honest. But anyway, today I’m talking about the dating world). This is true in a bunch of ways, and I’ve written about some of them before, but today I’m looking at the ways in which people talk about sexual and romantic orientation is often non-binary exclusionary.

So, for instance, as an enby person who is pretty regularly perceived as a woman, straight-identified dudes are sometimes attracted to me. They usually don’t magically stop being attracted to me when they find out I’m non-binary, either (much as I might love for it to work that way).

To me, it seems pretty clear that these people are not actually straight then, since they are attracted to people of more than one gender, and not just the other binary gender. Attraction to more than one gender falls pretty clearly under the umbrella of bisexuality (which includes plenty of identities that aren’t strictly bisexual).

the_bisexual_umbrella_by_drynwhyl-d4gq9ji

Simultaneously, though, these folks are also technically still heterosexual, because they’re only attracted to genders different from their own. Such is the difference between straightness and heterosexuality, I guess. All we learn from this is that you can be bi without being same-gender attracted, which means bi and hetero aren’t (again, technically) mutually exclusive identities. Cool?

I’m actually not terribly fussed about the idea of straight, gay and/or lesbian people occasionally being attracted to enbies, without questioning their identities around that. Plenty of monosexuals people have one or two exceptions in their lives, I guess? And if you’re not really acting on them, then whatever.

I’ve dated people, though, who have continued to identify as straight even while dating me. And I have… complicated feelings about this. On the one hand, by and large I am actually talking about people who were/are in hetero ‘primary’ relationships who absolutely benefit from straight(-passing) privilege. And I both empathize with and actually appreciate it when folks in this sort of situation feel iffy about identifying as anything other than straight, because they don’t want to appropriate LGBTQ struggles. This is a pretty good instinct, to be honest.

But you don’t actually have to have faced struggles, or even be out, to be LGBTQ. And the thing is, people who date non-binary people and still identify as straight (or gay, or lesbian), even if they are doing so based on a well-meaning, privilege-acknowledging instinct? They’re contributing to non-binary erasure. If you are into me, and still identify as straight, you’re basically saying that my gender isn’t real, or at least isn’t important enough to acknowledge; you’re saying that it doesn’t ‘count’ in the context of your orientation. I am the unstated footnote, the silent asterisk to your identity.

And that’s a shitty fucking position to be in.

So, to all the straight- (or otherwise hetero-*)identifying men and women who are dating, or have dated, or are open to dating non-binary people, I am issuing you a challenge.

Let go of that straight identity for a while. Accept that you are not just attracted to the gender that your identity implies, and really sit with the implications of that. Think about what it would feel like to think see yourself as fitting under the broad LGBTQ umbrella. You can dip into the shallow end of the pool and just admit that you’re heteroflexible. Or you can go whole hog and embrace the idea that you are, after all, kinda bisexual, or even outright queer. I don’t know what works for you.

I want you, particularly, to consider the idea that maybe your discomfort with identifying as anything other than straight might be because you are a victim of bi+ erasure. And I want to let you know that the messaging you’ve received about what is means to be bisexual, or to be queer, are wrong. I want you to know that you do belong under that umbrella; we have room for you here.

And I also want you to ensure you understand that your straight identity invalidates and erases the many other beautiful people of beautiful genders to whom you may be attracted. So, in this weird ourobouros kind of a way, by identifying as non-LGBTQ, you are failing as an LGBTQ ally. Or, less paradoxically, (especially since some of the straight people I’m talking to right now are trans, and already LGBTQ) by not identifying as LGBQ, you are failing pretty terribly as a non-binary ally.

I actually feel weird about asking you to do any of this; I’m not the kind of person who questions how other people identify, and I don’t really think it’s my business. Wherever you land is up to you, obviously. But I also think these are things you need to consider all of these things before you make that call.

And, I guess what I’m really saying is:

Image is of a spherical light brown cat with a devil tail, with taxt "Join usssss we're adorable"


*I’m letting non-binary-attracted gay and lesbian-identifying folks off the hook for now, because of reasons?

Comment-related CW: comments contain references to naked bodies, and draw connections between bio-sex and sexual orientations. I think the ppints made are legit enough to stand, but for sex-repulsed and bodily dysphoric readers, please tread carefully here <3

Dating while feminist

Relevant to some of y’all’s interests!

For those that enjoy my various and sundry social justice-y thoughts on dating, and especially online dating, check out datingwhilefeminist, which is written by past (and hopefully future) Valprehension guest blogger Spice.

You can also follow her general awesomeness on the Twitter @thepurplecoffee

How does your gender factor in to your future plans? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 18

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: How does your gender factor in to your future plans?

Gender always factors in my future plans at least to the extent of whether or not I plan to be out about my gender in x, y, or z context, and if so, when. Speaking of which, I am now 2/3 of the way through my probation at my current job, so maybe as soon as a couple of months from now? I am also considering waiting until next year’s Trans Day of Visibility, but that may just be a procrastination tactic on my part. We’ll see?

But yeah. I mean, I feel like I might be harping on this a bit and all (though maybe I am harping more in my head than in writing, so it may bear repeating here after all), but the place where my gender looms largest for me in terms of future plans is around this whole thing where I am really hoping to find someone who wants to raise kids with me.

The thing is that while I am open to a totally platonic arrangement in this regard (and can even see some advantages to such a thing), I also now that most people aren’t. Most people are actually pretty attached to getting their romantic (and sexual) and family-making needs/desires met in one package.

Which means I am thinking a lot about how my gender impacts my current and future date-ability. And it kinda sucks. Trawling OkCupid for people who are open about wanting kids is some depressing shit. I usually keep my searches open to those who set their settings both to “wants kids” and “might want kids”, but the honest truth is that all of the patience I may ever have had for people who might maybe want to have kids at some magical future ‘someday’ got used up a long fucking time ago. When people are in their freaking thirties and still dicking around on “I don’t know. Maybe?” on a question like that, I just fucking can’t. (And I mean, look, I don’t actually mean to criticize you if this describes you. You get to not now what you want, or you get to be unsure about whether it is possible for you fit kids into your life, or whatever else. Just, we would not be compatible right now, because you would make me crazy, is all.)

And then there’s the fact that even the folks who say they want kids are very often straight. I am sure I have no shot with straight women. I do with straight men, but the idea of dating straight dudes gives me pre-emptive dysphoria at this point, to be honest. The risk of being made to feel invisible, incomprehensible, and/or just generally like shit is too high.

And of course, even if I did want to to risk all of that, I know that plenty of folks wouldn’t want to date me anyway because of my gender. or they would want to, but maybe they would make me a secret or misgender me behind my back because they didn’t want to be out about having a trans partner or whatever? I mean, I know a lot of this is useless anxiety-brain speculation, but also these are real things that people do, and I am not even remotely capable of handling that kind of bullshit right now.

In my worst moments, I have honest-to-goodness considered a sort of detransition. If I just say I’m a woman, than my prospects would open up. I could be less difficult, and require less work from potential partners. I could date people who don’t care about social justice, I guess.

Except of course I don’t want any of that. Of course I don’t want to date someone who would not date me if I was honest about who I am. And of fucking course I don’t want to raise kids with someone who doesn’t understand social justice issues.

And even if I was willing to make that many compromises, the thing is that every time I think about it, it is clear to me that I can’t. I can’t go back to pretending to be a woman. It would destroy me.

So here I am.

I kind of got away from the original prompt there, maybe, but anyway, yeah, these are the things I think about when I think about my gender and my future.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Rethinking what works

A problem I am having right now: even though I am feeling a very strong urge to be *doing* things to move toward the life I want to be living (specifically with respect to the building-a-family part of that), because I always feel less anxious about things when I am actively taking control of the things I can control, I also just, like, really, really (really) am not into the idea of dating.

Part of this is almost certainly that I just need to be nice to myself; I am still very much in the midst of healing from having my marriage end, and that is taking up a lot of emotional bandwidth, and it will tke time tomove through that.

But I also know that there has never been a time when the prospect of dating actually seemed exciting to me. It is just stressful to think about really, almost all the time.

To clarify: by ‘dating’ here I don’t even really mean ‘pursuing romantic relationships’ in general – actually hanging out with and developing relationships with people I like is great and not stressful. It’s the part where I go on first dates with people that I don’t know how I am going to feel about that I hate.

Ok, I mean, maybe most people hate that? I guess what I mean is more, like, it just straight-up doesn’t work, because that kind of dating doesn’t give me the emotional space I need to connect with people in the first place, somehow?

And I actually read a thing recently that threw thse feelings into relief for me. It’s a comment from this reddit thread:

Dating isn’t for everyone, I think. It definitely wasn’t for me. Friend-to-relationship is the only thing that’s ever worked for me

Which, like, this both does and does not apply to me. I don’t really need to have a developed friendship with someone first, and I don’t even think that’s the ‘best’ thing for me, but I kind of think that *all* of my romantic relationships (even with people I met on OKCupid) have come from a place where on first meeting the person, I wasn’t really looking for something romantic necessarily.

My first two romantic relationships were with people I had known for years. Then there’s my ex-spouse, who I met on OKC, but I wasn’t looking for anything serious at the time (oops). I had another short relationship with someone I’d known for years. I met another person on OKC (again, with a very “well, whatever” attitude going in). And my current boyfriend I met at party for a mutual friend.

…I don’t even really know what I’m saying here. The main point I wanted to make, though:

For whatever reason, reading the above quote suddenly made me give myself permission to reconsider the way I’ve been trying to think about approaching finding new partners. It’s ok for me to say “this approach doesn’t work for me”. That’s ok.

I hate that it takes someone else saying it openly and with self-acceptance for me to also accept that in myself, but it did.

Anyway, I think that for now I will be focusing my energies on doing things that let me expand my social circles and meet new people in non-dating contexts. And I’ll probably be taking even that slowly for now.

And I’m writing it down because I’m more likely to remember it this way.

Dating while genderqueer: I’m torn

There is a thing I see a lot in dating-related online spaces and real life events that makes me uncomfortable. But I can’t decide whether I outright condemn the practice or not.

This concerns non-binary people and the ways in which we navigate the often overtly binarist mechanisms of organized date-finding spaces (for lack of a better term?) Again and again, I see (afab) non-binary people responding to ads from people explicitly seeking female partners or women (depending on how they choose to word it), specifying that they are afab and checking to see whether they count or qualify or whatever. It is possible that amab enby folx do this as well, but I haven’t really seen it so I can’t say.

And this icks me out. On more than one level, really, and the levels actually contradict each other. Because it feels like these people’s thought process may actually be “well, I have a vagina so maybe that’s must be close enough” or something. And that’s sad and fucked up in multiple ways.

On the one hand, I feel your pain, fellow enbies trying to figure out who might want to date you in a binarist world – OKC only tells me whether people are interested in men and/or women, and unless they make a point of mentioning in their profile (rare), there’s no way for me to know how they will respond to an enby like me.

But on the other hand, can we like, just *not* contribute to the idea that if someone says they are into women, that means they are into people with vaginas? Because that is cissexist on so many levels. It is flat out transmisogynistic to equate those concepts.

I know that a lot of the people who say they are into women really do mean they are only into vaginas, and that’s why you want to clarify. But here’s the thing: why the fuck would you want to date someone who is that cissexist? Do you really believe they won’t misgender you? Do you really want to enable someone else’s transmisogyny?

Because you really, really shouldn’t.

Embracing my demisexuality has made me more resilient: June 2016 Carnival of Aces submission

[This post is for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, on the theme of resiliency. The call for submissions is here.]

I am so, so grateful to have found asexual community, and to have found models of sexuality and sexual attraction that reflected my experiences in a very real way. In the (almost) two years since and first embracing demisexuality as a useful model for describing my sexuality, I’ve grown a lot.

It hasn’t always been easy, and I have had periodic doubts, but I’ve also learned to think my way through them, and sometimes come to strong conclusions that helped solidify my sense of identity.

This shift in how I think about myself and my sexuality has made me rethink and recontextualize my romantic and sexual history, my approaches to dating, and my expectations of myself when I do date. I used to beat myself up about not being able to have the kinds of sexual adventures other people have, that I kind of also wanted. I understand now why the ways in which I approach sexual adventure simply have to be different than how many others do it.

And more importantly, I have come to accept that this is really, really ok.

Being able to reconsider what I want from dating, what my expectations are when meeting someone new, and equally importantly, being able to communicate clearly to others around these issues, has saved me a lot of the unnecessary grief, discomfort, self-doubt, and self-denial that I used to continually put myself through. I used to waste to much energy trying to figure out what was *wrong* with me, and now I am free to simply seek out the things hat work for me and not worry about what doesn’t.

It is a huge relief. And it leaves me in a stronger, more stable place, where I am more ready to take on whatever else life throws at me.

I am, without a doubt, more resilient.

Online dating while genderqueer: I feel gross right now

[Content note: cissexism, genitals]

Every once in a while I will get a message from some dude on OKCupid who wants to know if he can ask me some questions, because y’know, he’s just a straight shooter, the kind of guy who lays all his cards on the table. He probably doesn’t mince words either, and maybe he just wants to get right to the point.

Anyway, the point is, he wants to know about my junk. And what kind I have.

Mostly I don’t super care about these questions – my standard response is “None of your business, since if it matters to you, then I’m not interested anyway.”

But sometimes they manage to be extra creepy about it. The most recent dude, for no apparent reason, made a point of letting me know that he had scoured my profile and all of the photos I included, but that he had not been able to determine on his own what my genitals looked like.

I suspect that this is because I, shockingly enough, have not included and photos of my genitals on my OKC profile. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be allowed to even if I wanted to. Nor do I describe my genitals in any of the written sections of my profile. Go figure.

But more to the point, my PSA of this day is:

Unless you are looking at a person’s genitals, or a picture of their genitals, no amount of searching their appearance for ‘clues’ or whatever will allow you to tell what genitals they have. The fact that so many people think this is possible is because they are cissexist douches.

That is all.