Saturday, June 26, 2010

A few LGBT surprises

A few days ago, I get an invite on the business connections network Linked-in to add someone called Christine to my list of contacts. I don't really use Linked-in much, but I always accept connection invites from people I know. This invite is a bit of a surprise, though, because I can't think of anyone called Christine who would want to connect with me. However, when I open the email that accompanies the invite, I get an even bigger surprise:

Hello GB,

I wondered what you were up to these days. I have changed my name since we last met - and everything that goes with it. Do you fancy meeting in London for a coffee sometime?

Best wishes - Christine (you knew me as Chris)

I feel absolutely astounded because I immediately realise that I used to work with this person in the early 1990's. He used to be a trader, and certainly not someone who I'd ever have thought would want to have his bits cut off. Checking Christine's profile on Linked-in, I see a picture of a woman that could very easily be the new him, and what looks exactly like the career history of the person that I knew as Chris. The invite is obviously genuine so I clearly can't refuse. I accept Christine's invitation to be in my in contact list and send her a supporting email:

Hi Christine,

It was a real surprise to get your linked-in invitation this morning, partly because I don’t think we’ve met since the 1990's, and partly because I haven’t met many transgender people. When we worked together, I recall that you seemed to be very close to your wife, so I certainly didn't expect your news. I presume that you’re no longer married, so I hope the transition wasn’t too difficult. On my side I think a lot of people that I’ve worked with in the financial markets know that I’m gay, and although I split up with the boyfriend that I had since 1989 a couple of years ago, I’ve got a new boyfriend now :-).

Best wishes, GB

However, the next day, her response genuinely shocks me:

Hi GB,

Actually I am still technically married. My spouse and I live entirely separate lives but from the same house where we share the children. I regard myself as a gay woman ...

As soon as I read that last line, I have to stop reading to try and let the information sink in. All I can think of is the episode "D-Yikes!" from South Park series 11 episode, where the male to female transgender character Janet Garrison decides that she's really a lesbian. Eventually I manage to read the rest of Christine's email, where again she suggests that we meet up for coffee, so I send a reply to accept her offer. However, although I try to compose a response to the fact that she now regards herself as a gay woman, I'm at a complete loss in terms of what to say. In the end, I decide not to mention it at all, because I have no idea what an appropriate comment would be.

I often share interesting emails that I receive from friends or whoever with boyfriend T, so I forward Christine's email to him, and tell him how shocked I am by her latest revelation. To my further surprise, his reply is very sympathetic to her situation:

Wow, this is a really interesting story. You should be kind to her, because can you imagine what a tough life she's had? Don't let her know how surprised you were, and that you think that she might be a bit weird! One thing I really admire about this country is that people tend to accept diversities like this, which are really not welcome in my home country.

I suppose boyfriend T is right. However, when I think back to when I knew Christine as Chris, there was always something a bit attention-seeking about his behaviour. But even if someone has an attention-seeking behaviour disorder, surely they wouldn't go this far just to get their kicks?


the immigayrant said...

Gosh... It's really really really true that some MTF trans-people are sexually oriented towards women.

Gosh. Gender and sexual orientation are really separate issues.

Phunk Factor said...

Sex change is a life-altering process....i'm pretty sure those who go thru it know it in their heart that things aren't going to be the same once the change has taken place....n it's not just other ppl's acceptance they are worried about...but their own acceptance as's like waking up with a new identity!

I agree with would be best if u forget that u ever knew her as Chris...and she has always been Christine!

Hav fun with the coffee!!

Bill said...

Please take heed of T''s guidance - he sounds like a really wise person. Enjoy your coffee - and leave your preconceptions behind ;)

Anonymous said...

Why couldn't you reconcile the fact that transgender people can be gay too?

Mind Of Mine said...

It is important to remember that gender and sexuality are two completely different things!

Latelygay said...

It's pretty much a question of self determination, isn't it?

I see things occasionally that bemuse me, but it's not their life or their quandary that I have to live.

Anonymous said...

GB, I really wouldn't have expected you of all people to be shocked in this day and age. this is the stuff of BBC documentaries!

recently there's been extensive media coverage about transgender issues, e.g. -

just when we thought we were the only anomalies...