FTM’s Partner in the NYT

I wish the NYT had been this hip when my books came out – either of them! Still, it’s good to see they’re catching on.

About a year after my partner’s surgery, we moved to a city in the Midwest where he’d been accepted to graduate school. Largely unknown there, we easily passed for a straight couple, no longer having to explain anything about our identities. Our home was in a lesbian-friendly neighborhood, and when we encountered lesbian couples on the street, they didn’t seem to notice us.

I wasn’t sure I minded. I cycled through feelings of relief and guilt over how we now fit into the straight world. My best friend visited and noted that I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable in queer groups; I hid behind the privilege that being straight afforded me.

Although my partner and I made friends in the local queer community, I realized I was reluctant to be seen with friends who looked “different” when I was around my straight co-workers. I grew my hair long and wore makeup. I waxed my eyebrows. I couldn’t have told you what was happening to me. I had my first girlfriend at 16, and when I told my parents, they rolled with it. Coming out then was one of the only times I had explicitly proclaimed my sexuality. I was completely unprepared at 26 to come out again.

This woman has lived pretty much the reverse of what I’ve been through, and yet, there it is: the way that your own gender, as a partner, is changed and emphasized and underlined by your partner’s transition, which seems to me, from so many partners I speak to, to be the one issue that’s a surprise, whether the person’s gender was unchanged and unquestioned or heavily investigated and fluid.