6th Preview of She’s Not the Man I Married

Excerpt from Chapter 6 – Genitals Are the Least of It

So while I knew that Betty was a little sexually unusual and not your typical guy, I didn’t have any idea early on that his crossdressing meant anything but that he would prefer to be a little prettier than most men when we made love. But that wasn’t the whole story, and after subsequent conversations and discoveries about his transness, we both started to realize that the male sexual role was not his favorite. While some might say that his crossdressing should have been a huge road sign, plenty of crossdressers are very happy with a traditional gender role in the bedroom: They want to be on top, just in panties. Through time, I realized that not only did Betty’s eyes light up when I took the lead in some way—in any way, really—but I was having way better sex, too. It was terrifying. All along I’d thought I was terrifically liberated about this stuff; other boyfriends had preferred nonmissionary positions—who doesn’t?—but I’d never been in a situation before where I had to acknowledge that taking the lead felt good for both me and my partner. That is, I had to own it. If I “ended up” on top, in the dark, in those moments of sexuality when no one talks about what just happened, or is about to happen, it seemed okay. But if I were to say out loud, “Hey, I like this,” all hell would break loose emotionally.

When you cross a taboo in a secret, private way, and you don’t have to talk about what you like, it can just make sex a little sexier.

But when you do have to talk about sex—say, if things aren’t going quite right between you and a partner—then it can be terrifying to admit what feels good. Like just about everyone else, I had messages in my head that being aggressive sexually as a woman made me a slut, or a pervert, or another socially awful thing I wasn’t supposed to be. But for Betty and me, the choice was between acknowledging these feelings and desires and their taboos, or arguing about sex indefinitely and eventually breaking up over it. The latter wasn’t an option.

What was happening in a very private, intimate space between me and Betty involved whole hordes of people: boyfriends who’d called me a nympho, my mother’s implied reminders to be a “Christian lady,” my years of being called or assumed to be lesbian. I was worried about all the labels I wasn’t fitting, and I was even more worried about which ones really could be applied. Betty brought her own horde as well: her guy friends who bedded any woman who was willing, ex-girlfriends who expected her to play the male role, and even one ex who left her for a woman. Then throw in all the cultural voices of religion, morality, and gender correctness. One of the most difficult tasks we had was asking all those people to leave our bedroom and kicking them out when they didn’t want to go.