But this "me, too" thing - I have to admit, I think it's really good. I'm all in favor of something where we're encouraging people to share (and, way more importantly, listen to) stories of a more personal nature in an effort to increase our mutual understanding of a situation. For once, we have a campaign where people are, in my opinion, allowing themselves to be a little vulnerable and communicating about situations that make them uncomfortable in an effort to learn/teach something to others.
So, uh yeah. Me too. #metoo
|At Cascade Head with Cody, looking out at the ocean and preparing for a flashback sequence.|
Before I start, let me provide some context to those reading this who have only recently met me and didn't feel like wading through a sea of words to find this information:
- I'm 37 years old now. (2017)
- I was born male but always wanted to be female, and discovered the term "transgender" at 21 (2001)
- I lived pretty much in the closet until I was 27 (2007)
- I came out at 27 and began transitioning, starting to live full-time as female at 28 (2008)
- I had gender reassignment surgery right around my 31st birthday (2010-2011)
- I basically spent my entire life single until I met my boyfriend Cody at 33 (2013)
And while I tend not to bring any of up in conversations these days unless specifically to provide context for something, I don't want to give the impression that I'm at all shy or easily offended when it comes to talking about any of this. I get misgendered at work maybe once or twice a week (including multiple times where different coworkers called me "he" and then super-quickly corrected themselves to "she" - almost certainly an honest mistake on their part), and I always feel bad because I can usually tell that it makes other people feel uncomfortable on my behalf.
That's not necessary, I promise! The main reason that I don't bring it up is because for me, it's all kind of ancient history and not stuff that I consciously think about a lot. But I'm a happy person who likes living life as an open book, so if you're reading this and had been thinking "oh there's something I wanted to ask her but didn't know if it'd make her uncomfortable", this is me officially telling you that you're welcome (and even encouraged) to ask me anything you want about my past / perspective and I'd be happy to share it.
|One of my favorite old pictures of me, taken at the Strangecreek music festival in May 2011.|
And so with that said, let's turn back the clock to visit 31-year-old me:
August 5, 2011
I recently had an incident that kind of put me off. I went to visit a friend – someone who has known me for a long time, since before my transition – and he made a move on me. I was staying at his place in another room and was dead asleep at roughly 2am. I woke up to the sound of him dropping something and saw him in the doorway. I was still very much disoriented from having just woken up when he sat down on the mattress next to me and started rubbing my back.
At this point, I was thinking something to the effect of:
“Oooh, intimate human contact! This feels good and is not something I get much of”
So at first I was all about it, kind of naively thinking it would stay there and we’d be able to sleep next to each other or something. I don’t know! When he started kissing me, it was then followed by:
“Woah. What’s going on?”
“He’s going to expect this to lead to more”
“I am not in the mood to really do anything sexual”
“I am hugely inexperienced and not at all good at this”
“I don’t want my first time after surgery to be a casual hookup with his friend”
“Well, he’s already started, is he going to be upset if I say no?”
“Well, it feels good, so maybe I should just do it”
“I probably can’t get any better than this anyways, so maybe I should just do it”
“Why is he doing this with me? There’s no possible way that he’s actually attracted to me.”
As one can imagine, I was starting to panic. My thoughts were racing a mile a minute. Because my brain was flying so fast, I couldn’t even focus on the task at hand, which was freaking me out more and compounding the issue. After about 20 minutes of messing around and clothes coming off, I kind of came to my senses and explained to him that I needed to stop. He understood, and before we went to bed and asked me to keep what just happened between us. I ended up falling asleep next to him.
I woke up the next morning and left. I’m almost positive he has no idea that I have any negative feelings about what happened at all. I still don’t know how to deal with this – he’s an old friend of mine and I know he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. As a rule, I try to judge people based on their intent. On the other hand, I feel like I should be a lot more upset about this and less understanding, and I don’t know if I’m just rationalizing his behavior to avoid a confrontation about a really awkward subject for me.
One thing that really bothered me about this was the request to keep it a secret. I feel like if he really wanted me to do it, it would have been nice for him to ask me before making a move. I didn’t get a choice in the matter, why am I obligated to keep this a secret? It wasn’t long before I was relating this to the conflict in my apartment and the general problem with my life right now – I put my desire to make other people happy over taking what I want sometimes, and then end up paying for it when I set the expectation that I won’t ever put my foot down.
Also, it messes with me that he wants it kept secret at all. Would he feel that way if I wasn’t transgendered? Is it because he hooks up with all his female friends and doesn’t want a reputation? Is he just a private person? Is there something specifically wrong with me to justify that request? I have no idea, and my negative mindstate was only amplified by all of these thoughts.
I feel more “over it” now that a few days have passed. I’m going to let it slide for now, and just make sure in his case that I’m never in a position where that can happen again. I realized that night that I don’t want to have sex with someone just for the sake of having sex – I want it to be with someone I trust, someone who I’m sure is attracted to me for me and not as a convenient lay. I guess that’s the start of sexual self-confidence, but I still have a long ways to go.
|My solution to what happened followed my usual pattern: I tried my best to not think about it.|
I feel like I have kind of a unique take on the way society treats women.
When I wrote the above post, I had far more years under my belt living life from a male perspective than from a female perspective. Like I read this now and it's amazing to me how quickly and easily I'm able to justify his behavior under the guise of wanting to be empathetic. I mean, it was definitely a learning experience for me, but on the other hand reading "I'm going to let it slide for now" makes me want to travel back in time and slap myself in the back of the head.
At the time, it didn't feel like I could justify being angry at him, because I really didn't think that he thought he was doing anything wrong. Six years later, with a lot more wisdom and understanding of the world, it kind of feels to me like those emotions are better channeled addressing the set of conditions that led my ex-friend to believe that what he did was acceptable. Because sadly, that's not even close to the only time something like that happened to me, it was just the first one.
I think the whole "Me too" thing resonates with me because I can say with 100% certainty that I had absolutely no understanding of what the female experience was like until I experienced it myself. If anything, for most of my life in the closet I was kind of romanticizing it, with things like "it must be flattering to be hit on in a bar". In reality, unwanted male attention sucks and happens a lot more than I ever would have thought - broadcasting my desire to keep things platonic is part of the appeal of androgyny to me.
|Thank goodness I had Kayla around to teach me confidence and sticking up for myself!|
I never talked to that ex-friend again after that. I never called him out on it or went the name-and-shame route, and even now don't really see the point. The best revenge is a good life, and he doesn't get to be involved in mine anymore. That said, I'd really love to see a world where guys don't just assume that they can start feeling up their female friends with no repercussions, and so if sharing this story helps that cause even just a tiny bit I'm more than happy to do it.