I’ve dated a Trans Person. A lot of us have.

‘….our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.’

I’m not Trans. I can’t speak to that experience. So I won’t. What I will speak with is the experience of someone who was once in a relationship with a Trans Man. Some people know about this, some people don’t. I always felt uncomfortable talking about my experience, thinking that in doing so I was revealing something that wasn’t mine to do, so much so that when I did a show about this particular relationship back in 2009 I didn’t mention it. I was really into prop comedy at the time anyway. I argued it wasn’t important to the story. I argued with my director, my script editor. I told them it wasn’t my story to tell. And you know what? In all honestly I didn’t want to distract from the show.  I didn’t want the audience to spend any of their time trying to figure ‘it’ out.  Trying to figure out what that made me? Oh and the much more common concern – watching the audience try to figure out how we did ‘it’.

Does that sound crude?  Abso-fucking-lutely it does. And sadly it was a question I got asked all too often.

No one ever thought they were being offensive or intrusive when they asked how we had sex and my grimaced smile didn’t really send home the message that it wasn’t an appropriate question to ask – the sort that revealed more about the ignorance of the asker then the answerer. I thought by not answering their questions  that that would say, albeit silently, that their questions were inappropriate. Like when they asked ‘have they had the surgery?’ or when they said ‘it’s amazing, they pass so well. You’d think they were a real man’ or my favourite ‘I could always tell.’  I’d tell them finally to shut up, that it was their ignorance and lack of education talking, but I was loathed to discuss it further as I still believed that just because I’d dated a Trans Man, that didn’t give me the right to discuss it.

But now that I’m older and as an LGBTQI ally and advocate I believe it is visibility and experience that is our strongest assets in this community. Putting aside the Bruce Jenner media spectacle we’ve seen in recent weeks, sharing our experiences, even if they are fleeting is important. It doesn’t mean you’re telling someone else’s story, it means your telling only part of your story. So yes, I dated a Trans Man.

As friends, we were great. As lovers, we were fun, tempestuous, fiery, belligerent and miserable – the perfect 20something relationship.  During my time with him, aside from the constant teary eyed break-ups and passionate reunions I never really thought about what being with him made me. People who knew us just thought it was great we’d gotten together, finally. Only when I started telling some close family and friends that didn’t know about him I was asked ‘are you gay?’ I would always answer ‘No, I date a man because I’m straight’ but I knew what they meant. They needed to make sense of it, as open minded as they were. If I was gay it would make sense. It would explain all the Indigo Girls albums and my fondness for the film ‘But I’m a Cheerleader.’ What didn’t make sense was that for all intents and purposes I was in a straight relationship and my boyfriend could be an asshole just like everyone else’s. On the odd occasion his transition  would come up during our time together he used it to try and empathise with me, like when I was complaining of period pains and he tried to empathise and I threw his trainers out the window…

I won’t write about his journey in this post. I still believe that’s his to tell. What I will say is he was an activist and friend to many in the trans community and it was hard not to be in awe of what he had overcome to be the person he really was. And whilst my relationship with him didn’t make me gay, it did make me more aware, more liberal and more importantly, did in some way contribute to the person I am today. But that’s what all relationships should do. The good, the bad – they teach us something about ourselves.

After we broke up and I started dating again, I would sometimes disclose details of my past relationship with him and be met with a mix of curiosity and utter transphobia –  ‘oh so now you’re with a real man’. This comment uttered by more than one but less than a few. Those relationships would last the length of a short breath.

I saw this short documentary once, where a Trans Warrior went around asking people on the street questions about what it meant to be a man. Questions like ‘If you were in a car crash and you lost your cock would that make you less of a man?’ In all of these ‘if you lost your cock’ questions the answer was always the same ‘having a penis didn’t make you a man’.  The interviewers intention was clear – our identity is a sum of our parts, not just one part in particular.

I realised while reading some of the reporting surrounded Bruce Jenner’s recent admission as well as  watching TV shows like Orange is New Black and Transparent –   that while it is important we continue to see trans visibility increase in our society, that it is also important that those of us who have been in relationships with Trans People not fall silent on it. By letting people know that being a relationship with a Trans Person was part of your story it can help lessen the stigma and at times offensive curiosity surrounding the community. It can show young people struggling with transition that they will love, live and have tempestuous and at time shitty relationships just like the rest of us. It might just show them that it does get better. It sure showed me that.

He didn’t touch me, I left my pants on.

I suffered what the doctor called a ‘drug overdose’ the other day. My first ever! (Well I refuse to count my slight addiction to Sudafed in 97′ that had me thinking I looked like a supermodel, whereas in actual fact my mother preferred to use the term ‘crack addict’ – nor am I going to include the time I discovered the untold pleasure of mixing a nice Sauv Blanc and Panedeine Forte on a hot summers day listening to Joss Stone…. lets just say I was discovered thinking I was a guest on Parkinson discussing my ill fate romance with Steve Coogan…).. No, this time my foray into the numbing world of drug abuse was not my doing. It was all the fault of my father and his special ‘sleeping tablets’ and that coupled with my inability to read instructions led me down a very dark path that resulted in me standing in my knickers saying ‘no -that chairs mine! Mine I tell you!’ My father had been well intended; after all it was me that was insistent I catch a bus back to Sydney. It was me that thought it would be ‘good material’ but I’ll save the bus story for later – it’ll be in my new book entitled ‘THINGS I SHOULD NEVER HAVE EVER DONE’- there will be a sections called ‘Men’, ‘Transport’ and ‘Flatmates’. (Oh…feel the subtext). Dad gave me 3 tablets of something called ‘Still Knock’ – he said it was a mild sedative that would help me sleep, take the edge off life. He demonstrated himself with the aid of a neat scotch some Vallum and then the final touch – Still Knock, a Beatles album and a cold shower. I know I should’ve said no, but there was so much romance involved with the idea of travelling the highway, fucked up, kicking back. Maybe finally I would find a Sid to my Nancy. Let’s just say it didn’t exactly play out that way. About an hour out of Melbourne the bus driver put on Match Point and to escape the pain of it all I knocked back a sleeping tablet, blew up my neck cushion, undid my fly and prepared to doze off…after about 30 minutes I started to get concerned – I felt nothing, if anything I now found myself engaged in conversation with the woman seated next to me and started to prioritise important dates in my new diary – maybe sleeping tablets were the new speed? Only one way to find out I thought and grabbing my hip flask and I downed another sleeping tablet, turned to the girl next to me and I’m ashamed to say – I think I uttered the phrase ‘So little lady you from round these parts?’ Four hours later and I was still wide awake and trying to avoid the advances of a small Italian man who was sure I was famous and on the run – finally I turned to him and admitted that yes, I was Angelina Jolie and I just needed some space from Brad – it was all so suffocating this new relationship and no one seemed to understand that. Small Italian man said he’d understand, he’d understand so much that he was willing to share his lap blanket with me – to this day I still don’t know why I declined such an offer. As the sun came up and I was still wide-awake I decided that maybe I’d gotten it all wrong – I was meant to take all 3 tablets! God now it made sense! So down went the 3rd and last tablet as we pulled into Central Station and from that point on everything is a bit of a blur… I know I got in a taxi and suddenly felt very ill and directed him straight to the doctors, thinking I’d finally come down the dreaded Christmas flu – it really hadn’t occurred to me that alcohol combined with 3 sleeping tablets on a bus in the middle of nowhere was to blame…no, it took a doctor in a white coat to explain to me that I had taken 2 too many tablets and then he proceeded to ask if I was a happy person – of course I’m not I remarked, I’m a tired person…a really, really tired person. Finally making it home I decided that a cold shower would help. I thought about it long and hard but couldn’t quite will myself to the shower so I settled for a moist towellette on the couch and then I think I passed out. I woke up intermittently throughout the day, especially when my boss rang concerned about a text message I’d apparently sent him that read like so ‘C23t ma…work..no fe 3l nbad…help mexxx!!!!’ – ok, so loosely that translated into I don’t think I’ll be coming into work I think I’ve been shot with a tranquiliser gun!’ When I woke up a little later to the sounds of Tyra Banks show, lying in nothing but my knickers and a singlet top but I still had my Cons tightly on my feet I knew something wasn’t quite right. I’d even made myself a sandwich but had no recollection of any of it and now I standing at the front door knickers only and telling my next door neighbour that I was fine to bring the chairs he’d borrowed inside on my own – I just needed to sober up first and maybe put some clothes on. He offered to come inside and help me find my clothes but as was the case with the small Italian man I had to say no…and then I think I passed out again. I woke up to find myself fully dressed, chairs stacked neatly inside and a note that read ‘Don’t worry, I didn’t touch you’….ahhh, refreshing. Making myself some coffee I decided to do some work, but got bored of that, put my pyjamas on and convinced myself a good nights sleep was all I needed. Just as I dosed off and began to dream of being on Parkinson again my mother rang to let me know that I should drink fluids and that if I found myself passing out again to call her. I told her she was being unreasonable, we fought and fed up with the stress of the day I grabbed some Panadeine Forte, a nice chilled glass of wine, my David Duchovny biography and took myself to a place full of wonder and excitement for tonight I was going to dream myself to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Eddie Maguire was finally going to notice me, really notice me…