How the world sees me!
Yesterday I was reading a blog by a transgendered female about navigating the male gaze. As a cisgendered woman it is something that I have always had to live with, but didn’t really notice. From puberty on I learned that boys initiate contact and after I started dating it was pretty routine for men to catcall or hit on me. But it brought my attention to something that I hadn’t really thought about until now : that men treat me differently.
It occurred to me that I never really do get hit on by men that much anymore. When I do, it’s when I am hyper-femmed up with lots of make-up and in tight skirts and dresses. My everyday look however is usually natural looking make-up with jeans and boots. My hair is growing out but is still pretty short. It never occurred to me that what people see when they look at me is not a feminine heterosexual woman or a cancer survivor, but a lesbian.
When I think about it, it makes sense. Over the course of the last month and a half I notice the people checking out my OKC profile are lesbians. I never get asked out or even talked to by men. I don’t have to navigate the male gaze anymore simply because I am practically invisible to men.
What further complicates things is that I am kinda, sorta seeing a transwoman. My female neighbor who lives across the hall a few weeks ago asked me if I was seeing anyone because she heard someone else in my house. I told her who it was and she exclaimed ‘I knew it! I knew you were GAY!” . This sort of took me aback. My entire life I had always been a feminine woman who dated men. Never has anyone ever thought of me as being gay.
Which brings us to the subject of my sexuality. Technically, I feel asexual. I have no desire to mate with anyone else of any gender. I enjoy intimate emotional relationships with either gender. Prior to cancer however, I always considered myself bisexual. I remember being 15 years old and proudly kissing girls on campus of my high school and holding hands. I lived in a small, predominantly Christian, white town where being queer was not a good thing. But I refused to closet myself. As I got older and into my 20′s I got married and conformed to the standards that white, straight women are supposed to. After my divorce I dated a few women in a mostly closeted way. In 2007 there was a girl who wanted to be in a relationship with me. It scared the fuck out of me. At that time I was not ready for the world to see me as a lesbian. I went to bisexual support groups and even a conference discussing bisexuality. At that time I felt very uncomfortable with the label “dyke” placed upon me and broke up with her. I would never really talk about the women I was casually seeing with anyone except my gay friends.
Now, I am trying to figure out how I feel about it. Honestly, when I am out and about holding hands with the girl I am seeing it doesn’t feel any different as when I did it with any of my other male partners. I forget when we kiss on the street that people look with disgust or curiosity. I honestly forget that we are not like any other hetero couple. But it’s strange realizing that the world see’s me differently than how I see myself. I still see myself as a feminine (albeit with an edge) girl who still does find men attractive. I still see through straight privileged eyes. We won’t even get into the deeper implications of what people think because of my friends’ trans status.
In the end, I realized I don’t really care what people think. I’m going to be me – pure and simple. I will continue to champion the causes I feel passionate about. I will continue rocking short, dykey hair cuts because honestly – I like them and they look cute on me. I’ll date who I want and the rest of the world be damned. I know who I am and that is all that matters.