I feel like I’m in a weird, often conflicting, headspace about my gender and sexuality lately. On one hand, this is the first time that I have ever fully embraced myself as being queer as fuck and I am doing so during what is undoubtedly my sexual prime. So, yay!
On the other hand, I’m a chubby, hairy, 30-year-old, hypersexual, non-binary queer who is undoubtedly NOT in their physical health prime and who is still uncertain of how “sexy” looks or feels as an enby. So… yay?
Of course, I’m fortunate to have found a partner who not only accepts that I am queer and trans but who is queer and trans themselves AND whom I share a loving, non-monogamous relationship with. That’s something that some may never experience, or may only experience after a stream of abusive, invalidating connections in which they are pressured to continue hiding their authentic selves. This can last for decades, with people not coming out until they are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, or even older.
Yet I often find myself in spaces dominated by young queer and trans people in their early twenties and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there is a part of me that envies them for having the opportunity to explore themselves while they are that young.
I feel like I’ve missed my youth. Almost entirely.
While growing up, I watched as peers around me stumbled awkwardly about with oftentimes violently cisnormative and heteronormative social practices. Anything “gay” was bad. Anything femme was “gay”.
Meanwhile, I worked overtime to suppress my feelings, to repress my queerness, to force myself to be the boy that I was expected to be. I spent more time talking down to myself, berating myself for not being like the “other guys” than I ever did growing into myself naturally. I isolated, I lied, I drank, I self-harmed, and pushed so many away in vicious, self-destructive cycles.
Overall, my memories of youth are mostly a haze. A mix of seemingly disconnected moments of feeling content, long blank spaces, and deep regrets.
So, here I am at 30 often experiencing stark emotional extremes. I am both learning to love and accept myself, and struggling to let go of the hatred I subjected myself to for so long.
I am both excited about the incredible sex that I’m having with my partner and our lovers, and lamenting lost time being sexual with my youthful body.
I am both embracing my sexual needs, desires, kinks, and fantasies… and still struggling to unpack deep seeded internalized homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia, and sexual shame.
I am both completely sure of my queerness, and completely incapable of adequately defining or understanding it in any way that makes sense.
I know from how they cuddle up to me every night as I fall asleep. I know from how they tenderly kiss me awake every morning. I know from how they help me pick out clothes on days that I feel particularly dysphoric. I know from how they constantly tell me how proud they are of me about everything from doing something cool in a video game to achieving a goal I’ve been working toward.
Yet there have still been times when I have felt so insecure about myself that it manifests as jealousy, irritability, self-isolation, co-dependancy, and even a drop in sex drive. This especially comes into play with our non-monogamy in that when I am feeling particularly insecure I often become jealous or worried about the people my partner is flirting with, or sexting with, or sending nudes too, despite previously consenting to those non-monogamous boundaries and activities. Vulnerability tends to pull those feelings and fears out at times.
However, while those emotions, and the insecurity that led to them, are valid it is important not to project those struggles unfairly onto my partner.
So, how do I deal? Well, here are 4 tips for ways that I have found most effective for facing my insecurities or feelings of jealousy in a healthy way:
Tip #1: Talk About It
Yep! While it is true that communication and honesty is important to any form of relationship, it is arguably even MORE important in non-monogamous ones given the emotional, physical, and sexual complexities at play with multiple autonomous individuals to consider. So, if you have the capacity for it, talk about your jealousy. Acknowledge it and work through it with your partner(s).
Of course, that’s often easier said than done for many. Things such as anxiety and depression are perfectly valid reasons for why bringing up these conversations can be especially difficult. However, I’m still a big advocate of talking things through, when possible.
Not only will doing so allow you to unpack what is really behind those jealous feelings but sharing in that process with your partner(s) and/or lover(s) is great way at reaffirming trust, honesty, and communication.
Tip #2: Re-asses Your Boundaries Often
Regardless of the structure of your non-monogamous relationship(s), boundaries play a very, very important role in ensuring that everyone involved feels comfortable, safe, and respected. In monogamous relationships, boundaries tend revolve around two individuals committing to exclusive emotional, romantic, and sexual bonds with each other. In non-monogamous relationships, boundaries aren’t always so straightforward.
Maybe it was agreed that non-monogamy for you and your partner meant just having the occasional threesome. Maybe it means that sharing nudes and sexting with friends and/or strangers online is cool. Maybe it means that oral sex with others is cool, but penetrative sex is off the table. Maybe it means that either of you can have sex with whoever you like, however you like, but you remain emotionally monogamous with only each other. Or maybe non-monogamy for you is a complex series of emotional and/or sexual relationships with people who you may or may not live with, perhaps not even within the same city.
When relationship boundaries are crossed, like your partner having sex with your friend while you were at work even though you both expressly agreed to not have sex without you both being present, then this naturally makes people feel jealous because of actions that challenged their comfort or safety.
If you feel that a boundary has been crossed, whatever that boundary may have been, it is of the utmost importance that a conversation about that occurs with your partner(s) as soon as possible! During said convo be sure to assess if everyone’s sexual or romantic needs have changed and, if so, do your relationship boundaries need to be re-considered.
NOTE: There is a very big difference between re-thinking relationship boundaries with your partner(s) vs. feeling pressured into agreeing with boundaries that make you feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and/or disregarded.
Tip #3: Prioritize Self-Care When Needed
As a chubby, hairy, queer, proudly non-passing androbabe [who sometimes just identifies as “trans”, or, non-binary, for the convenience of cis people], I struggle a lot with feeling attractive in a world that constantly works to blatantly affirm that anyone visibly trans or queer is disgusting and abnormal. Sounds harsh, but it’s true and one need not look much further than the past 25-years of blatant transphobia in film or even most of those “cringe compilation” videos all over YouTube that almost always present queer and trans peeps through a derogatory lens.
So yeah, it gets to people over time. I know it has for me, and there have absolutely been periods where I have internalized hateful public discourse about queer and trans folk to the point where it has made me feel incredibly insecure within my relationship. All sort of emotional responses can come from those insecurities and fears, from expressions of jealousy or dependence to irritability or anger.
That’s why it’s SUPER important to practice self-care on a regular basis. Be it reading a good book, having long baths, playing video games, listening to music, going for a walk, watching movies, watching porn, masturbating with your favorite toy (or your hands), hanging out at home naked, whatever, make sure to allow time for yourself to look after your own needs.
You deserve it, and you’re worth it.
Tip #4: Take a Social Media Break
Coming directly out of the last tip: for any queer and trans folk who have spent substantial time online, reading the news, reading comments sections, following social activists of any kind, they’ll likely have some pretty rough stories to tell you about the anti-queer and anti-trans harassment, threats, hate speech, and general degradation they have likely both witnessed and been the target of themselves.
Transphobia and queerphobia remain extremely pronounced, and particularly vitriolic, not only across social media platforms but also within general public discourse, and especially politic heavy environments, on a whole. In this alt-right, neo-fascist, culturally regressive era of Trump it is an especially difficult time for marginalized folk as blatant bigotry and hate speech has once again become socially acceptable. It’s an extremely well documented fact that individuals constantly exposed to hateful rhetoric, degrading comments, and negative perceptions of individuals such as themselves, tend to internalize it all. You hear so many people saying awful things about your sexuality, or your gender identity, and after hearing it for so long it has a nasty habit of burrowing inside you and rotting.
But let me tell you this: they’re NOT true. You’re not any of the things that ignorant bigots, hateful politicians, and faceless trolls say you are. Fuck ’em.
And if you need to take a break from it all, be it just for a few days, or a week, or even a month, then please do not hesitate to do so. Your true friends will keep in touch with you through this time and all your online connections will likely be there when you return. Unplugging for your mental wellness is valid.
So, how about the rest of you out there, what things have you found helpful in addressing insecurities or feelings of jealousy in your relationship(s)?
So, it dawned on me recently that I think I’ve been, like, subconsciously going back into the closet…
Over the past two months I have been dressing less and less femme, I’ve been very sporadically wearing bras (when I had previously been wearing them every day), I’m not shaving very often (going weeks with stubble), my blogging frequency has slipped, and my self-confidence has been at the lowest it has been in… fuck, a while.
When I pick out my own clothes recently I tend to grab basic t-shirts and sweats or shorts. Then when people still inevitably stare at me I almost always turn to my partner Falon and say things like “why are they staring? I’m not even wearing anything femme…” or “I don’t even look that queer today, do I?” and my spoons quickly deplete. Still, dressing in pretty andro clothes, not shaving, and not wearing a bra, has made walking around town MUCH easier. I’ve been blending in a bit again.
And you know what? The street harassment HAS been way, way less over the last few months too. I haven’t had anything thrown at me from a car in a while, no transphobic/homophobic slurs yelled at me from some dudes in their pick-up truck, nobody following me and recording me on their phone (like with the Walmart or Mac’s Convenience incidents), nobody cornering me outside and screaming at me to get out of town (like at my bank last summer), just not a lot of harassment at all really.
Then two days ago, while standing in the kitchen doing some dishes, Falon could tell that I was really low on energy so said that they would finish doing them for now. “Go sit down, it’s okay,” they said. “You don’t have the spoons right now, but I do, so I can finish up what’s left.”
So, off I went to dry off my hands and without any forewarning I just fucking broke down crying. Hard.
Like, I’m talking full on hyperventilating, body shaking crying for nearly half-an-hour. And ever since then all I can think about is how absolutely, completely shitty that I’ve been to myself for the last 59 days.
This is the first selfie that I’ve shared on my Facebook page with friends and peers, since March 30th.
Between then and now I have spent the vast majority of my energy berating myself, bullying myself, invalidating myself, tone policing myself, gaslighting myself. I have let every single shitty, transphobic thing I’ve read on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, news articles, etc. over the past few years get under my skin and burrow deep.
All the YouTube videos with casual transphobic and transmisogynistic jokes thrown in for a laugh at our expense. The movies making fun of us, the public figures profiting off of our abuse and oppression, the Milo Y’s of the world calling us a cancer on society and advocating for us to be socially, politically, and financially quelled. The posts after posts after posts of people, both cis and trans, demeaning and degrading non-binary folk as liars, fakers, tricksters, and general nuisances to all. The cruelty of our families degrading and disowning us. The centering of capitalism, pinkwashing, tone policing, respectability politics, ally theater, and conformity by the organizations that purport to be “for us”.
It was all in there bubbling under the surface and until today I didn’t realize how much it had just been rotting and festering away inside me… making me feel sick, and sad, and worthless, and scared.
I deserve better, Falon deserves better, and my queer and trans readers, followers, and friends deserve better too.
Our anger, our frustration at the constant transphobia that we are forced to endure every single fucking day, those are valid emotions. Marginalized people are constantly shut down and told by others for decades to be quiet, to be nice, to calm down, to not yell, to be patient, to educate people.
Yet over and over and over and over again people say and do transphobic things. Often the same people. Over and over again TV shows, YouTube vids, movies, news broadcasters, reporters, talk show hosts, etc. say and do transphobic things. Over and over again politicians, religious leaders, public figures, celebrities, teachers, professors, say and do transphobic things. Over and over again “allies” say and do transphobic things, then get angry when you bring it up.
And we’re expected to just not burden those around us with any of it. We’re expected to take all the forms of harassment from them every single day and to deal with it ourselves, in quiet. Stop complaining, it’s not so bad, say those who just don’t fucking want to hear it.
We’re expected to not be upset by any of it. To stop being angry, to stop being so sensitive, to not take things personally, to not rock the boat, to “pick our battles” (but not actually fight them TOO loudly), and to respect and hear out the abuses from others as “opinions”. Further, we’re expected to then generally listen to our abusers and softly, calmly, patiently, and politely teach them. Don’t alienate your allies. Don’t alienate ignorant politicians. Don’t alienate the abusive police system. Be nice and be quiet.
So for the last few months I’ve internalized thing after thing after thing.
I’ve subconsciously punished myself for my anger. I’ve isolated. I’ve stopped posting publicly about most things. I’ve stopped openly sharing my self-care and empowerment selfies. My “friends” list has shrunk exponentially with each passing month. I’ve worked quite subversively to quell my emotions and NOT be that angry queer that everybody berates as an “oversensitive”, “triggered”, an “SJW”.
But you know what, I’m queer and I’m angry.
Don’t like it? Go fuck yourself. I’m bouncing back and I’mma be LOUD.