Sunday, June 22, 2014

Who I'm attracted to

I've hesitated to even make a post about this. I've talked about an aspect of this briefly in Dysphoria Crush and elsewhere, but haven't really given the full explanation, because I'm not convinced that stereotypes like that are important. I mean I recognize that same sex attraction (aka gay or lesbian) is a very real thing for some people, as is being bisexual, straight, demisexual, pansexual, etc. I'm just really not sure which applies best to me, nor do I know if they'd necessarily be constructive to apply to me.

Part of this has to do with how my attractions work: For the most part, I could care less about appearance. For example with guys, I don't really know what someone means when they say "hot guy." I mean I guess I can recognize the traits we typically classify as "hot" (well groomed, muscular, 18-25 years old, probably without a shirt, very little body hair besides maybe a flavor-savor lol jk please no, etc.), but those physical traits don't really make that much of a difference to me. Like I remember when I first recognized that I had some attraction to guys, it was really relieving. I was like "I can actually say he's attractive. Like totes OMGoodness he's so hot" but not really referring to anyone. I just basically recognized that I had some level of attraction to males - part of that "some males I know fit that description of my 'perfect girl' better than any girl I've ever met" - which was a relieving thing. Like for example there were some guys that, when I met them in middle school or high school, I was just like "wow this guy is perfect, he's like what I've been looking for in a friend for so long" without realizing it was actually a "crush," if you want to call it that. It was never really a "physical attraction," just instead like this insanely strong emotional bond that decided it wanted to irrationally try and form. Though to be clear my close friends I consider family - and I'm not attracted to family - so these were more random guys that I would probably consider more acquaintances than anything else. Or like Johnny Depp, Jimmy Kimmell, or Steven Colbert, my "celebrity crushes" I guess you could say. Anyway sorry if all this makes any guys that knew me feel awkward just don't flatter yourself - I mean if it helps great whatever works for you - but just know for most people I didn't care that much either way. I was more focused on just figuring out my "other stuff," IE why in the world I identified as a girl. But still, just recognizing that I had these feelings of attractions to guys, and not shoving them in to a corner anymore, was a positive and relieving thing, I think.

This was also after I came to understand I was trans (identified as a girl internally), so I guess in that way maybe it made sense to me [girls are attracted to guys so I must be too would be my thought of maybe how the logic goes]. On the other hand, I remember when I realized I had some level of attraction to guys I was essentially like "f*** my life." (sorry about the language but I was in a lot of stress at the time) I was like, okay, I've got enough to worry about with Gender Dysphoria. Now I have another thing on my plate to worry about? K thx life.

This gets into my other point. I had no idea who it was okay to be attracted to. More specifically, since it's said that "it's not the feelings but how you act on them that matters", in the long run, who (from a religious standpoint) would it be okay for me to date, marry, possibly have kids/adopt with, etc.? I know that if I don't transition marriage to another female is probably okay (I've met guys with GD who are in temple marriages like this today), however I'm comfortable with the decision to transition and am doing so (see the last few posts for clarifications on why I think that's okay for me). But I had no idea how the doctrine works out for someone that's transitioned. Because, as I said in those posts staying in the church is a constant for me - I know it's true - so I want to do what's doctrinally right. And I know that the doctorine is pretty clear that same-sex marriage is breaking the law of chastity. But as I've mentioned before, I have no idea what that means in my case. My gender is female, but my sex is male. Thus, marrying a guy is probably same-sex marriage with respect to our sex. And marrying a girl is same-sex marriage with respect to our gender. The only person it makes sense is with another transitioned FtM person, but it's still difficult to know how the temple roles work in that case.

What I mean is that, in the LDS culture, there is sorta this goal of "temple marriage." The temple is where we baptize for the dead, perform family sealings for eternity, and make sacred promises to the lord and each other in marriage. It's called the "temple" in reference to the old temples in Jerusalem - we see it as The House of the Lord. One can only attend after being interviewed by their bishop and being found "worthy," which means that they follow the LDS standards: No coffee, drugs, tea or alcohol, no sexual intimacy outside of marriage, that they have a testimony of the savior, are baptized and given the gift of the holy ghost, etc. We don't make this restriction because the ceremonies and such we perform there are really "secret," instead they're just very sacred to us so we don't share them openly.

So the problem is that all the ceremonies performed in the temple are very gender specific. Especially the marriage one. In the case of trans people - even if we pass as our identified gender, in the LDS church's eyes we are still seen as our biological sex. Why this is I don't know, but through multiple letters from apostles to trans people we know that our leaders are aware of the situation, but it's just complicated. In the case of intersex people even more so, though I'm pretty sure it's all mostly just treated as a very individual thing with no "general" ruling, which I will trust church leaders have their good reasons for that right now. More pertinently though, this means that, even if they are transitioned and pass, a MtF person would have to fill a male role in the ceremonies, and a FtM person would have to fill a female role in the ceremonies. Besides being triggering, the physical effects of hormones and such could make that a pretty different thing for most people involved. Enough so that the stake president (local church leader sorta in charge at this stage) may just not be comfortable allowing the ceremony to take place at all, I don't know. There are just clearly many concerns that they'd have.

Also, I'm not sure I'm really that attracted to trans people. I guess it's the "perfect couple" in the sense that we would understand each other on the trans side of things in a way no non-trans person would, however of course beyond that we'd have to find similarities just like any other couple. And trans people are so rare that's really hard to do. Besides that, the whole "opposites attract" I think is really relevant here. It would be nice to relate to other trans people, but I feel like that makes more sense for friends (I have many trans friends I care about deeply) than it does for relationships. I feel like two trans people would be unbalanced, at least in my opinion. For those that it works well I'm happy for them and that's good, but in my case I think I would almost prefer a cis person because I'm ready to eventually transition and put this stuff behind me for the rest of my life, no offense to other trans people intended. Maybe they would feel the same way and it would work out, I don't know. But yea most of that would depend on if I ever meet a person that I feel like it could work anyway. Like alongside that right now I'm still just trying to find the kind of people I'm interested in/not interested in, because that feels like more important first.

*Edit - I've realized the above paragraph is actually really discriminatory towards trans-men. I apologize for that. The truth is there are basically as many different kinds of trans-men as men, because trans-men are men. So I suppose the point I've been getting at is more that, for me, I have some physical attraction towards men, but like not really much of a romantic attraction towards them, in terms of emotional connections and stuff, I think. This is true for men in general, including trans-men. So far, again things could change, I don't know, and I'm gonna try and avoid labeling myself for the reason of keeping an open mind because I don't know exactly what will happen in my future.

Anyway, so that's sorta my feelings on the MtF and FtM couple. It might work, but it still has quite a few complications (well I mean any couple does but specific to this situation), and personally I'm just not that attracted to FtM people. Specifically I'm much more attracted to more feminine males, and most FtM people I know are pretty masculine.

There's another side of all this though: I'm pretty sure I'm attracted to females.

Again, the pretty sure comes because I really don't fully understand my attractions. I would have to be in a relationship with someone to really know, and I've mostly dated girls that I wasn't attracted to as part of hiding all of these feelings. However, as I sorta alluded to in my Dysphoria Crush post, there are some girls that I feel this almost like crush-like attraction towards. Typically they are more masculine girls, and there is some level of "unhealthy," almost jealousy type attraction. Except now that I've started on transition and hormones, this jealousy aspect has hugely decreased. I no longer really have these overwhelming surges of "I want to be you." Instead it's just more like, "hey, I really like your makeup/style. I think it's cute" or "Where did you get that shirt I heart it so much" kind of thing. I'm also starting to learn that I have some kind of physical attraction to some girls that's more than just that jealousy thing. It's a much more "clean" feeling attraction that that gross jealousy stuff, just like, well I guess a "normal" attraction. If someone says "hey she's really attractive" I still don't have much of opinion because I don't know them at all first, but I am starting to learn that there are some physical and personality characteristics that I find attractive in girls. It's pretty rare that I find a girl that I am attracted to, and most girls attraction wise I could care less about, but there is certainly an attraction to some girls that exists there. For example my female celebrity crushes are probably Lauren Mayberry, Grimes (Claire Elise Boucher), Lorde, or Kat Dennings.

I don't really want to get too much more into what traits and such I personally find attractive because that feels like a pretty personal thing, and it really depends on the person. I also don't really want to discuss genitalia here because I feel that's equally as personal and sacred, however know that I'm factoring that into all my decisions here as well (because for example I know most guys are much less attracted to females that they learn have male genitalia). Back to the point of this post, so far the conclusion that I'm at is that I find some guys and girls attractive, and I think I could probably have a satisfying relationship with either, religious concerns aside.

But wait! You say. A while back you said "even the idea of say dating a girl repulses me - AKA I'm a straight female"!

Well, that's how I thought I felt at the time too. Because dating a girl is really triggering, if I feel they see me as male. The same is true for guys - I feel extremely uncomfortable in any kind of relationship with a male if I think they see me as a male. But the experiences I've had around some people while presenting mostly as female have been the opposite - it's why I think a relationship with a male or female could work for me. So that's why I'm (socially) transitioning first, I feel like I would just be very uncomfortable in a relationship otherwise. Some people are able to manage these relationships once they find someone they're attracted to, but I don't get that personally. It would be way too exhausting for me, which would be unhealthy for the both of us because I wouldn't really be that committed to it because I'd need too much time to heal from that exhaustion/anxiety/distress. Or the other way around: Because I'm still not that emotionally stable right now, I could get very dependent on someone fast. I understand that whole "clingy girlfriend" thing, that's described me at times. And that's also not a healthy relationship at all, for either of us. I need to learn to take care of and love myself before I can expect to love anyone else/be loved in a healthy way, I think. So I'm working on that, alongside with/while I transition, because transition helps with how I feel about myself on some levels.

Okay, so back to whether I want to date a biological guy, a biological girl, or a trans person.

Biological Guy: I'm pretty sure the LDS doctrine is clear that me pursuing marriage with a guy is same-sex (hence "sex" and not "gender" here) marriage, which is "breaking the law of chastity," IE wrong. The same is even more true with dating a MtF trans person, on the sex and gender levels. So I'm not interested in pursuing a relationship with a biological guy. To be clear that's a rule I feel I need to follow for myself, but is no reason for me to judge others - I know those in same-sex relationships that are very happy, and I'm happy for them. I don't have to fully agree with them to still be their friends, I feel like we all have more pieces of pie that are alike than not alike anyway.

Biological Girl: The doctrine is less clear here. If I choose not to transition, this is probably totally allowed. It would just be very difficult for me and for her to be going through gender dysphoria most likely for the rest of my life, so I would definitely come out to anyone that I was dating seriously before considering any long term commitments - helping make sure they understand how seriously GD will impact me for probably the rest of my life. I've explained this elsewhere though, and won't get into it in that much detail here because I plan on transitioning.

The other option here is transitioning, and then being in a relationship with a girl. At this point they would probably have to have same-sex attraction, as they would need to be attracted to me as a female to be interested in a relationship.

I've discussed this option in great detail with my Stake President and Bishop (local church leaders), asking what kind of reactions they feel would make sense/if it's okay or not from a doctrinal perspective. My Stake President's response was "you have agency, and it's not my position to tell you what to do." I laughed and agreed (he's awesome), however I explained I just more wanted to understand what kind of church repercussions I might expect if I was pursuing that kind of relationship. He said that he really can't promise how church leaders in the future will react, but that most Bishops would probably have some issue with two girls in his congregation being in a relationship with each other. It's "technically" not against the law of chastity, but externally looks wrong from what most understand the church standpoint to be. He concluded with saying that he can see why it's a little unclear though, that we have the power of personal revelation, and that he looks forward to a future email response from me when I have received an answer from the Lord. Again, he's awesome.

So I later went to discuss this with my Bishop. We talked about the three reasons why people typically are given church discipline:

1: They refuse to change. For example, someone could have a serious drinking problem, and refuse to try and stop. Drinking by itself can cause one to be subject to church discipline, but it's really the part about refusing to try and change that matters.

2: They are putting others in danger/harming others, for example abuse. I think he was saying this is also applicable if they are convincing others to do wrong. If someone thinks, say, smoking weed is really good for them, and starts convincing others to do so as well, there is a bigger problem than if it is just themselves struggling with a drug addiction.

3: It threatens the integrity of the church. This would be something like the ordain women leader - though it's okay for her to question some of what the leaders say, if she starts actively protesting and that causes others to question their faith/question whether or not they even want to consider joining the church, there is a problem. In a way this goes under 2, but I think it's different enough to warrant it's own category.

This is really where the case of me marrying another female is applicable. Even if it's not technically wrong, if others see that my Bishop/SP/The temple is endorsing a marriage between two females, it sends a message that's very contrary to established doctrine (same-sex marriage is breaking the law of chastity). This will most likely cause some people to question their testimonies and what they know is true. Thus it threatens the integrity of the church, which is why, sadly, it probably wouldn't be allowed. Basically it has all the concerns explained above with the MtF to FtM marriage in the temple for the trans person in the relationship, alongside looking externally like a same-sex relationship. If it would be possible to simply get married in such a way that we just sorta "quietly" went through the temple and not many people knew about it that might be okay, but that's not that possible in our modern day. So a civil marriage might be the best I could do, but it's good to know that that's still an option of some sorts nonetheless.

All of the above is also true for dating FtM people, as well as any other kind of trans person that is biologically female (say gender-queer, bigender, non-binary, neuter, etc.). Pursuing a relationship with another trans person would also look more "right" from the standpoint of people's reactions in church, so it might be preferable, but I think I'd personally be more comfortable with a biological female. I'm pretty open to whatever happens though. Mostly I just want to find someone that I'm attracted to, can relax and have fun with, can have meaningful conversations with, has similar standards, and we think the relationship could work well and be a positive thing for both of us. If I do find someone I think meets that description, it's still very possible it just won't pan out in the long run, and I'll repeat for a while, but the hope is eventually I'll find someone with whom we can make life work as best we can. As with any of these options there would still be many things to discuss and work through first (me being trans and whether or not we want to have kids/adopt being some of the biggest ones), but I feel like that's true with any relationship.

So that's nice to have that understanding and goal set out, it's nice to know what my options are. Of course I don't expect to actually find anyone for quite some time, and there's quite a bit of relationship preparation work I can do in the meantime (like learning to better love myself, learning how to form healthy and balanced friendships, learning how to assert my opinions in a non-argumentative way, learning to meaningfully get through arguments, building Christlike attributes, etc.) alongside transition, but at least I know who it's okay to look for now. It's a little counter intuitive that the best relationship doctrinally for me besides with someone who is FtM is a lesbian one, but hey, it is what it is.

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