Here at the Hussy Hotel, the letters have started rolling in. Since the response has been so phenomenal, it seems prudent to devote one column per month to responding to reader mail. Hence, we open up the Hussy Official Mailbag (or, the HO’bag, if you will) and draw out a letter from a lonesome-hearted soul.
As a fellow femme, I don’t know exactly why I’m writing you, of all people, since I find your politics, your relationship ethics and your general person so onerous on so many levels. But I’m at a crossroads, and I could use some advice. As you seem to be surrounded by a steady stream of sturdy studs, I thought you might have some insight into a problem I’m having with my trans male lover.
Boyfriend and I have been together for years, but he only started physically transitioning a little over a year ago. Since then, it has become increasingly apparent that he is interested in sex with men. I want to keep an open mind – we are both queer and theoretically poly – but I am becoming increasingly concerned that his primary orientation is shifting in a masculine-of-center direction. He is particularly interested in sex with cis men.
I know I should be more open-minded, but I have concerns: about trust, about his safety, and about the possibility of him leaving me for a man. I worry about the long-term sustainability of our partnership, but I love him and I want things to work out. Can this relationship be saved?
Anxiously awaiting your reply,
Mired in Miami Indefinitely
PS: We have not had sex in four months.
My dearest MiMI,
The unenviable position in which you find yourself is one of many an unhappy femme in our communities. You are not alone in this struggle.
Firstly, the thing to come to terms with is that all trans men are gay. The reasons for this are manifold and not fully understood – the most popular theory is that because our lovers are so hyper-testosteronated, the excess of this lovely yet wicked hormone is converted into gayness. This maxim is further borne out by a brief examination of ethnographic sexual behavior. Do a search for the keyword “FTM” in the Craigslist personals section of any major queer US city, and you will see what I mean. By the by, these fellows are often quite on-the-nose with their self-descriptions: 5’9” 180 Filipino masc FTM, had top surgery, live by the airport with two dogs. Girlfriend out of town, doesn’t know I’m doing this. You might find yourself thinking, “I know that guy!”
Like a Mormon housewife struggling with her husband’s same-sex attraction, the stakes here are high. Should you split up? Should you encourage your loved one to explore his urges? How do you deal with the jealousy? Does your relationship have a future? The most important thing right now is to trust your feminine intuition; it will be your guide. If, in the end, it is truly your desire to hang on to that man no matter what the cost, do not lose hope. Here, for you, is a five-step plan to guide you through the gathering storm around your relationship, to the glittering rainbow on the other side.
Step 1: Encourage, but undermine. This is one of the most delicate steps in the plan, but also the most important, because it sets the stage for the rest of the process. There’s a perfect balance you want to strike here: be enthusiastically encouraging about his newfound interest in sodomy – even to the point of unctuousness – but at the same time, you will need to find ways to use homophobia to your advantage, by subtly undercutting his masculinity.
Some moves that might empower you to do this might include but are not limited to: taking on the position of “best girlfriend/faghag”; enthusiastically pimping him out to all your gay friends, especially the ones you are fairly certain will reject him; expressing interests in MMF threesomes, and then backing out at the last minute; demanding all the gory details of his sexcapades while feigning delight as though you are getting a cheap thrill from his tales of heroic homosex; oversharing about his newfound proclivities at dinner parties, ironically noting his former “gold-star” lesbian status — you get the idea.
The idea here is to throw him off his game a little. You want him to be as unsteady on his feet as possible, like a little gay fawn taking his first gay steps toward his first gay bath house. You, taking on an odd combination of the roles of den mother and procurer, will easily be able to lead him around by the nose.
Step 2: Cyberstalk. As surreptitiously as possible, it’s important to know every move your man makes online. While he is most likely loathe to be honest with you about his new-found perversions, he will certainly be up-front with the thousands of men who will check him out on Manhunt, Adam4Adam, Craigslist, Grindr, Scruff, Bear411, Fetlife, Collarme, Alt.com, Adultfriendfinder, etc. It might be a minor education for you to set up profiles on all of these sites in order to immerse yourself in the customs and mores of gay sex culture – you might be surprised at what you find.
Some women I know have even gone so far as to message their newly silly-for-schmekie lovers with an assumed profile, in order to determine what their homo heartthrobs are or are not consenting to in the heat of the moment. This is particularly useful if you are concerned about your partner’s newfound fascination with semen and potential proclivity for barebacking, You might even learn some interesting things about him. Set up several different profiles with several different types of guys, and you will learn quickly what his “type” is, which may be totally different than you thought it was. (Hint: They all want a daddy.) You might even discover that he’s kind of racist! (“Sorry, not into blks or AZNs — just a preference!”)
Be careful with this, because it’s easy to get caught — your man probably knows your writing style and particular verbal tics better than anyone, and it’s easy to unknowingly give yourself away. There’s a fine art to building a fake internet profile, a subject on which yours truly could opine for a whole other column. Suffice to say, the easiest way to not be detected is to rip-off some fag’s online presence whole-cloth, with self-description, pics and everything. Friendster and Myspace are particularly ripe graveyards for your ghoulish profile-robbing needs.
Feel free to take this one step further and read his email. If you know his passwords, use ‘em. If you don’t know them, find ‘em out. A nerd friend can be very helpful here. Ask about key loggers, trojans, and other sneaky ways to hack his private life. Protip: trans women seem to be particularly apt at this.
(Careful, though. You could go to jail.)
Step 3: Start sleeping around yourself. Though certainly, what is good for the goose, etc., your sudden interest in pursuing affairs outside your arrangement will give you some important leverage.
The key here is to play on his insecurities. If it has always been his fear that he is lacking something that cis men have, well, now is the time to look up those gross rockabilly dudes you used to sleep with. On the contrary, if it is your lesbian identity that gives him fits, find the sleaziest butch in town and propose that she box your box. If he fancies himself some sort of alpha dog, find his trans man doppelganger/nemesis (this is usually the same person) and be seen together about town.
It’s important to know here that you don’t actually have to sleep with these folks – in some ways, it is to your advantage if you can plausibly maintain after-the-fact that you did not , which I will explain in the next step. It is the mere suggestion that is important. For instance, an “accidental” tag in a photo of you and your new lover looking lustful on Facebook is always a good spur. Another plan: encouraging your new lover to text you at 1:30am, while you’re in bed with your boyfriend. Pick up the phone, smile, and giggle. If he asks, Who was that?, clearly, your answer is, “Oh, no one.”
The point of these exercise is to normalize power relations between the two of you once again, and to let him know that you are in fact desirable, whether or not he desires you. Also, this transfers some of the panic that you’re feeling right now on to him, which of course can only increase his empathy for you. It is then when it is the perfect time to
Step 4: Contract VD, or an STI, as folks with VD say. This is your check move. Blame it on his gayness. If you have done your due diligence re: Step #2, you will more likely than not have evidence that he has been having some unsafe sex, because people are inevitably skanks when they think no one is looking. You will not even have to use your intel; in fact, it’s better that you don’t. His guilt will be all the “proof” that you need. If as per Step 3, you have maintained the correct balance of performing “desirable” yet remaining plausibly chaste, you will have him locked into a corner. How could you have done this to me? will be your wounded she-wolf cry. Threaten to spread it around the community – the rumor that he gave it to you, not the VD itself, to be clear.
Pick your VD carefully — HIV is a bit dramatic, as is incurable gonorrhea. Better something like blistering, virulent herpes: it’s uncomfortable, it begs treatment, it carries a stigma, it can be passed from vag to vag rather easily. By all means, steer clear of the one truly horrible VD, because not only will it blow your cover, but, well… have you ever seen a baby?
Armed with VD, you can trap your man in a prison of guilt and shame: he feels bad that he has wronged you, and he feels dirty, unlovable. He is one of the sexually fallen; you, on the other hand, are there to bestow on him a Marian love and forgiveness, and to let him know that, chained to your side forever, there is freedom. This in and of itself should do the trick, but if for some reason you still notice his head turning in a hunkwardly direction, it may be time to exercise the nuclear option:
Step 5: If all else fails, move — preferably to a cold rural state where they have domesticated the gays, like Iowa, Vermont, or Saskatchewan. Surrounded by trees, plains and sheep, your lover may pine for a Brokeback butt buddy, but his odds of finding him in these craggy hinterlands are greatly reduced. Far from Miami, with her pro-nudity climate, sexually indiscriminate Speedo models, and randy old Israelites, you two will enjoy an ascetic existence wherein you sublimate all your unfulfilled sexual longing into fixing up that old farmhouse. Trading Miami’s circumcised, Viagra-fueled antique knobs for the Montpelier Restoration Hardware’s faux-antique knobs will be your love’s salvation. There, you two will grow old, your spiritual bliss only temporarily interrupted by the debate over whether to attend IML or IMsL, which will simply be solved by perpetually deferring the trip another year, in favor of using the vacation funds to rent a ditch witch or replace the sump pump.
Now is a great time to start thinking about going to graduate school.