Let’s Talk Trans: What is it Like to Date a Trans Man

Saint Michael’s campus is small. Which means gossip runs through the dorms faster than the flu. Which means, most likely… you’ve heard about my boyfriend.

 

If you’re in the math department; a junior; attended a Common Ground meeting or even the Burlington Pride Parade; are on Facebook or Instagram or probably even Snapchat; if you have called a Knightsafe, or maybe just go to the gym; if you’re on the women’s lacrosse team, or you’re a friend of the women’s lacrosse team, or you’re a friend-of-a-friend of the women’s lacrosse team… you’re heard about my boyfriend.

 

Grayson Putnam (formerly known as Vic), came out as transgender on our campus last August. Since then, he’s quit the women’s lacrosse team, took over as president of our school’s LGBT+ club (Common Ground), and started working Knightsafe to cover not the costs of his testosterone shots, but the expensive dates his girlfriend drags him to (hint: that’s me). 

 

 

As much as I love to talk about my boyfriend–and I do–this blog is not about him. It’s about me. Or more specifically, my experience as the girlfriend of a trans man. 

 

When Grayson discovered he was trans, I was there. When he held the secret from all of our friends for four months, I was there. When he came out, when he started T, when he picked his name and announced it to everyone on Facebook and Instagram (just last week) and the whole eight months of our relationship and his coinciding trans journey, I’ve been there. But when our relationship and his trans identity all started to gain speed, there was one thing I couldn’t find. And that was information for girlfriends of trans men. I could research every step of his journey, watch Youtube video after Youtube video, but the availability of resources aimed at me, and me specifically, was lacking. No video taught me how to be the best partner on days transition would be hard. No article taught me how to answer every question that stepped a little too far beyond the privacy line. No blog could prepare me for every nuanced issue or blessing I would experience because of my boyfriend’s identity.  

 

Which is why I am starting this series. Consider it the diaries of the girlfriend of a trans man. Strap in, because we have a long way to travel. There is so much I’ve learned in the nine months Grayson and I have been dating. And we are going to start right now, with lesson number one: Unless stated otherwise, the girlfriend of a trans man is not bisexual, pansexual, or a lesbian because of her boyfriend’s biological sex. She is straight.

 

Perhaps my most frustrating question received, as it is often asked with disregard to my opinion, is my sexual orientation now. The simple answer: I am straight. The lengthy answer: by saying I am not straight, you are discounting my boyfriend’s identity as a male under the assumption he is either female (corresponding to calling me lesbian or bisexual) or that his identity is not actually male (pansexual). While I understand how confusing this is, and I am aware of the real question you want to ask me simmering underneath this more polished and appropriate question, please accept my orientation as how I identify: straight. If you’re lost after all that, which is understandable, as I just threw a ton of LGBT+ cue words at you, take my metaphor as the simplification:

 

A girl approaches you and tells you her favorite ice cream is chocolate. Even though you know the base of chocolate is vanilla (chocolate ice cream is made with vanilla plus, well, chocolate), you would never tell her that actually, she loves vanilla ice cream. So, why, when I say I am straight and am attracted to men, do you assume the biological sex of my partner claims otherwise. Chocolate or vanilla, let people love the ice cream they love. 

 

Now, you’ve made it this far, sat through my tireless metaphor, and you’re still hanging on. Props to you. Stay tuned in two weeks for when I answer the small curses and blessings I’ve experienced as Grayson’s girlfriend and if you have any pressing, dying, can’t-keep-it-to-yourself questions, flag us down and we’ll be happy to answer. Otherwise, swing by Common Ground which meets biweekly on the second floor of Alliot and keep being that curious little person you are.