The first person I told I was trans asked me if I liked boys. I told them no, because I wasn’t gay. I said I liked girls. They were confused. So was I. After spending some time with this I discovered I was gay, or lesbian rather. Yes I had fantasies that involved exploring sex with males. But I more frequently had fantasies exploring sex as a woman.
I have made several friends within the LGBTQ+ community since coming out. I have attended multiple Pride’s and a couple of Drag shows. I am well versed in queer culture at this point. While we, trans individuals, have been pushing back against the efforts of some forces trying to push us out of the “LGB” community, we have also in many cases taken things to our own extreme. For example let’s talk trans twitter. I haven’t heard an equivalent queer twitter or LGBT+ twitter.
For all our talk of insisting we belong in spaces that fit our gender identity, as in trans women belong safely in women’s spaces as well as trans men belonging safely in men’s spaces, we’ve also gone out of our way to insist upon forming, at least virtually speaking, a trans only space online. While I personally have contributed to this spreading and promoting of the hashtag #transcommunity, I have made a conscious effort to include my gay, lesbian, nonbinary and other folks as much as I can. I follow people who are pan sexual, a sexual, genderfluid, and everything inbetween.
I noticed however a trend. While I personally do have quite a few cis gay men in my circle, as well as cis lesbians, I do feel we as a whole tend to shaft the gay men in our discussions, this often includes trans men as well. As a transwoman I know I have cultivated a network of other transwomen whom I know share similar experiences to myself. I have in the past shied away from being labeled gay because I don’t want t be mistaken for a gay man. I am not an effeminate homosexual male. I am a biromantic asexual queer female. But I am gay, in the strictest sense considering I am lesbian, sort of. That’s not the topic here. What I want to focus on is our connection with gay men in general.
I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos from other queer creators, almost exclusively these days. Part of this is I want to support my community as much as possible. There is also a part of me that wants to be more educated on other queer experiences, as well as our culture and history. Things I was sheltered from learning about growing up.
What I have learned is while I do associate with gay men as part of the queer culture, I have identified with some of the videos I have seen from gay men, I have also taken a step back and withdrawn from gay culture quite a lot. I do this out of fear of the right branding me a gay man in a dress. Thus I have often taken steps to exclude cis and trans gay men from my own interactions. I know doing this is an issue a lot of us face. We are all screaming how the T is part of LGBT, we often forget about the L and the G. Yes I have seen a lot of trans women especially even refuse, whether it is intentional or otherwise, to engage with gay men in a lot of conversations. I follow a few gay-hosted podcasts. My favorite of which will always be Frigay the 13th. It was the first piece of queer media I actively sought out after coming out. I fell in love with it right from the start. While I appreciate he work they do I have often shied away from some of their topics internally because I feel it would betray my womanhood to agree with what they are saying at times. Although they are very supportive of the trans community in general, as I am supportive of the gay community, I have recognized our experiences are not directly analogous. We share a lot in common with coming out of the closet, facing trans and homophobia, etc., but I have noticed trans women tend to, myself included, distance ourselves from the cis and trans gay male community out of fear we’ll be labeled such. I know we need to do better. I know I need to do better.
It was a few months ago I was talking to a gay man at work. A guy I formed a strong bond with right away as he became my staunchest ally and closest friend. During our short time together he quite often had to remind me although he was gay, our experiences were only surface similar, they were quite different. It took me a while to sort that out in my own mind. I know as a part of the queer community I am on the same rainbow he was, but I kept forgetting he was a cis male. This was tricky for me because he used female pronouns and dressed very effeminately as a lot of gay men do. I also found myself struggling with the drag culture for similar reasons but that’s a topic for another day.
I don’t have a solution. I don’t know why I started this discussion today. All I know is I want to be more aware of my gay brothers including the trans men, but I am not sure what this looks like or how to achieve it without playing into the stereotype of myself being branded a gay man. It’s disheartening. I distance myself from gay culture for this very reason whereas I should embrace it.