Defining a Gay Relationship

When someone says they are gay, it is often implied to be a simple meaning. If they are a man, that menas they’re into men. If they’re a woman, that means they are into women. However, with our new defnitions of gender, that becomes more difficult. What about someone who is between genders? What about transsexual people who are both?

I was once talking with a lesbian woman who I liked very much. We were flirting a little, but in the end, she said she was only interested in real women, with vaginas. For a long time, I was offended by this, despite the fact she was my friend. Is having a vagina her prerequisite to being a woman? Which led me to ask, is a lesbian relationship about two vaginas, or two women? How much of the relationship is about genitalia and how they interact? When its spelled out so bluntly, I think it sounds rather silly. But it all comes back to, how do we define man and woman?

Being a few years older and a few years wiser now than I was when I talked to this woman, I do understand now, sometimes people have a preference for being with someone with certain genitalia, and that is perfectly reasonable. People have their own sexual preferences. However, the question is, is this the same as being gay or straight?

For instance, a genetic female (a person who was born a woman and defines themselves as a woman) dates a transgender woman (who was born male but identifies as female), is that a lesbian relationship? What if the transgirl is pre-op or non-op (either before, or not intending, to get Sexual Reeassignment Surgery(SRS), and still has a penis), is that still a lesbian relationship? What if two transgirls were together? Would they be in a lesbian relationship only after SRS? Is it gay if they are both pre-op?

I have the unique experience of being a transgender woman who has dated other transgender women. Whenever I dated transgirls, there was a sense of shared experience. We both knew what it was like to deal with hormone replacement therapy. We both knew about makeup to cover stubble, we both knew about tucking, about re-learning to speak, about feeling suddenly self conscious about passing. We don’t even have to speak about it, it is just something we both share. We often tease, this must be how “normal” gay  couples feel when they start dating someone of the same sex, this sense of shared experience.

In the end, I find it hard to define what a gay or lesbian relationship is. I think the best way to go about it is to define the relationship based on the gender identity of those involved, but since gender isn’t a binary, often even those definitions are too limited.

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  • January 2013
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