I am a feminist lesbian. I have always said I am emotionally, spiritually physically, intellectually and sexually attracted to female-identifying persons. I used to be one of those people who believed in the butch or femme binaries. Since I considered myself I to be more feminine I took on the femme identity.In my head, my own silo, being a lesbian meant i should only desire to be with a woman.
Then I met him.
Immediately he arranged my silo and ravaged my beliefs about sexuality and gender. In short, my life took a turn when I fell in love with him. If I can be honest with myself, the relationship was nothing short of a learning, growing and eye-opening experience.
I met Troy during one of my trips back home, because of my past experiences I had assumed he was a butch lesbian. As we got to know each other, he revealed to me that he was a Transgender man. At first, I couldn’t understand what that meant my knowledge about Trans issues was still very limited. I only knew that in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender LGBT community. What that really meant and stood for was not clear to me. To be honest I never really bothered to find out. Troy made sure that he explained further. I had fallen for him and the thought of being with a man not only unsettling but it was terrifying. The months that followed I became more and more confused about my sexuality, about my the whole issue. I started wondering about the reaction of my fellow lesbian feminist sisters on hearing that I was dating a man.
The thought somehow made me feel embarrassed, confused, a part of me wanted to leave the relationship. We were so in sync, Troy understood and supported me and i was actually, emotionally spiritually, sexually intellectually and actually really in love with him. In that moment I realised that I had fallen in love with Troy the person and not his gender identity or expression.
The experiences in this relationship were bittersweet. I began to learn and unlearn a lot of things. I learnt to respect his pronoun, to be considerate with my comments, I also had to learn to accept and respect that certain parts of his body did not exist or were no-go areas, this was really hard considering my previous experiences in some lesbian relationships and also how I felt about loving every part of his body. With more exposure and communication I began a process of understanding Troy as an individual with individual needs just like everybody else.
The challenge for us was with people within and outside the LGB community sometimes intentionally misgendering Troy. The sign of defeat on his face each time that happened made me realise how violent it is to intentionally misgender a person. I became his protector, each time during the social gathering or when I met friends I made sure I quickly introduced him to my friends and made sure his pronoun was known from the get-go. Some people understood and had no problems with that, others always had excuses for misgendering him. Some of my lesbian acquaintances began to, question my sexuality.I know I had also battled with that myself but I never regretted or judged my decision. I remember some of my friends in the community accused me of not being lesbian enough. I began to loose interest in social groups or individuals who judged my relationship with Troy our circle of friends shrank , but we supported each other we were close friends. Had it no been for differences, distance, a time we could still be together. I am grateful that our break up had nothing to do with his gender identity or my sexual orientation.
I do not remember Troy as just another man|, our relationship was a beautiful learning process. It taught me a lot about myself, crossing boundaries, love, compromise and not only think, but also to love -‘outside the box.’
By Tinashe Wakapila Zimbabwean LGBT rights activist, actress, feminist. She writes about being lesbian and married to a transman.