It’s really much simpler than you might think, to love a trans* person. So many people ask how a lesbian (my partner) can be in love with someone who isn’t a woman (me). And it’s not a foreign sentiment to hear…wondering how a straight woman could love a trans* man (though this in itself is a whole host of transphobic bollocks)….how a gay man might love a trans* woman. The whole thing leads you to believe that a trans* person is tough to love doesn’t it?
The problem is this…too often trans* people are reduced to their genitals and that sexuality is fixed not fluid. But those statements aren’t true. Gender is not equal to genitals, and sexuality is fluid. So really, loving a trans* person is as simple as falling in love. However, I myself feel like I can be tough to love and I doubt that is singular to me. Dysphoria and self doubt can get in the way of love and as a partner it can feel impossible to help someone out of those places.
My partner fell in love with me before I was out as trans* and before I had voiced those feelings at all. She is a lesbian, I was presenting as a woman. When I found the courage to tell her about my gender identity I was terrified she would suddenly fall out of love and leave me. It scared me so much I almost didn’t say anything. But I did. And she told me the words everyone wants to hear: “I love you for who you are. Your gender doesn’t change that.” This is how to love a trans* person. Love them for who they are, not what gender they are. Since then I have begun transitioning which, for me, will involve a double mastectomy. It’s difficult, my partner loves women’s bodies and loves boobs. But a person is more than their body, and I am more than my chest.
When a trans* person comes out we should continue to love them in the same way we did before, they are the same person. The name and pronouns might change, but the person doesn’t. The physicality of the person might change, but the person doesn’t. Maybe loving a trans* person is a journey, sometimes you will love them through changes, surgery, names…Sometimes you will learn new things on the way. You will learn what it is like to live with dysphoria, you will learn how to make your loved one feel at ease with their alien body. You will learn the harsh realities of the world, that some people will hate you simply for your love. You will learn that an off hand comment can be a kick in the guts.
So maybe I will change that statement from before…loving a trans* person isn’t easy, you will find yourself fighting with them for the most basic of rights and accesses. You will hurt when they hurt, and that will be more often than you can imagine. You will stand up against an oppression you may not have seen before.
But the act of loving a trans* person is easy. You respect them for who they are, you do your best to learn and get things right, and you love them.