(Editorial note – this was originally written ~6 months ago but is only being published now)
[TW: Abuse, sexual assault]
It’s 11am and Rebecca is in the bathroom chiselling away at the ceiling and attempting to sort a water leak out. Meanwhile I’m here writing this thing. Another average day, as she’d say to just about anything that comes up which is anything but average. That goes for us as well given we’re both transgender and navigating the various issues that arise from this, on top of the usual daily issues that govern our lives. Things like holding down jobs, paying the bills and generally minding our own business as we build a nice quiet life together, as a loving couple would. As Rebecca said the other day to me “We’re just two people wanting to live an ordinary, boring life together, but having to do so in the most bloody extraordinary way.”
And that’s the thing, extraordinary is about the right word for us and how we came together. I first met Rebecca on Twitter nigh on a year ago, just after I lost dad and going through the stresses of helping mum and the family with arranging how to say our goodbyes. On top of this, the stresses of trying to keep alive a relationship with my then partner after my coming out and intention to transition were steadily worsening.
Over the months we got chatting and found out a lot about one another, supporting each other on a daily basis while we were trying to find our own way in the world and got pretty close as friends. We both had issues though. Rebecca is dealing with the psychological trauma from having spent several years living with an abusive partner as well as being forcibly estranged from her kids at the end of it. As for me, as I’ve alluded to elsewhere I’ve been sexually assaulted in the past which causes me distress on a near daily basis right now. On top of this we both have social anxiety issues so neither of us are all too great with venturing out and about and doing stuff. If it wasn’t necessary, like going to work or doing the shopping we wouldn’t really venture out the door and do stuff on our own.
We’d spend pretty well every day on Twitter, chatting about something or other from our past, our days, issues and generally being supportive. Over time we found we had a lot in common and grew to be pretty close as friends. We’d celebrate whenever either of us had a good day or an affirming experience as well as figuring out this transition business together, and being the first one there for one another if either of us had a setback.
Hell, Rebecca dashed down at a moment’s notice to see me and stay over the night when I had a grief related breakdown at work a few months back. She’s done this a few times for people she really cares about and has been prepared to do so again fairly recently for someone else we know. That’s how she rolls.
Truth be told, neither of us was looking for a relationship when we got together. We’d both just come out of relationships with other people. In my case it was a relationship that had spanned 14 years and I eventually realised had run its course some while back, and staying was doing more harm than good to us both. Rebecca offered her flat as a safe place for me to come to, and figure out what I wanted to do next in life, as things were steadily worsening at a home I was then cohabiting with my ex. To cut a long story short Rebecca and I fell head over heels for one another and after a week and reluctantly returning to Kent for work purposes we’d resolved to give things a go and haven’t looked back.
That was almost six months ago. Since then we’ve settled down, helping each other out with our myriad of issues and making plans for the future together. I should point out when my relationship ended I wasn’t looking for love. With all that was going on in my head I really didn’t have the head space to deal with the various issues that most trans people face when dating. Things like finding someone who accepts you for who you are, doesn’t treat you like a bizarre sexual fantasy or turn violent because they think we’ve somehow tricked them into something because of their own insecurities.
Dating and living with another trans woman side steps a lot of that and those worries for the both of us and comes with the added bonus of having a partner who understands the daily battle between mind and body and the dysphoria that this creates. For me and Rebecca this has meant more than a few sleepless nights awake and comforting one another when dysphoria is at its worst, or when one of our other issues rises up to give us a rough time. We’re pretty well a counsellor for each other really.
Rebecca has also given me a huge amount of reassurance in another area, namely concerning intimacy. It’s a triggering subject for a lot of trans people anyway as intimate moments are often fraught with feelings that don’t always match our hearts’ desires and for me anyway almost inevitably leaves me in a tearful dysphoric mess anyway. Add in the trauma from my abuse experiences and intimacy is doubly triggering. Thankfully Rebecca is so understanding on the matter and encourages me to take things at my own pace and stop as soon as I feel uncomfortable. To be honest both of us are quite happy just lying in bed, skin on skin and cuddled up. Neither of us have a desire to take things further, and as Rebecca often jokes, ‘The pills killed it off anyway’. For me she has done so much to make me feel loved for who I am and to feel perfectly safe.
You may be reading this and thinking things aren’t easy, which in some ways is true because of what I’ve said earlier, and that’s before we throw in the avalanche of issues we collectively face as being a pretty marginalised, misunderstood and wrongfully demonised community. But for the most part it’s brilliant. We both have our own skills and often find what we bring compliments one another. I’m pretty good with organising appointments and paperwork, which has been priceless for Rebecca as she struggles with this and as we all know, us trans people have a lot of appointments to sort out. Rebecca is very practical and creative, which in among other things has really helped with sorting out the bathroom issue I alluded to earlier and helped put my mind at rest until a permanent solution is sorted. As individuals we are very much incomplete, but together we feel complete.
We share a lot of similar interests and Rebecca’s rekindled my interest in a few things I had let fade away. You’ll often find us gaming, nattering away on Twitter or lost in some anime series or other. Pretty ordinary stuff really. We don’t get out too much, both of us struggle with social situations but we’ve also both found it becomes a bit easier when we’re out and about together. It’s kind of a safety in numbers thing, though planning days out and little adventures, (which inevitably involves taking lots of pictures and sharing with the world), feels so much more worthwhile doing when you have someone to share them with.
It’s not all about big and grandiose gestures, for both of us it’s all the little things that add up and give ourselves and each other so much joy that we didn’t have before and often didn’t realise it’s what a relationship should be about. We’re just two ordinary people who love and care for one another, with dreams and aspirations for a long and happy future together who just happen to be transgender.
In short, we bloody love each other and we never want this ride to end.
by Chrissy Bea (@chrissy_bea)
Image © Chrissy Bea, all rights reserved