the voice and vision of a new generation
Photo credit: Sorrel Rosin

Couple of Queers: Trans love, sex, and dating

February 17, 2018

Couple of Queers is a monthly amp series where LGBTQ couples (gal pals, platonicqueers, romantic couples, and more!) have conversations about identity, activism, dating, and growing up.

For the inaugural Couple of Queers feature, GLAAD Campus Ambassador, Sorrel Rosin and their partner, Jessie Culp discuss dating, being in public as a queer couple, and trans identities.

Trans & dating

SORREL: After I came out as trans, dating someone never really came to my mind as a possibility. This belief was rooted in my lack of confidence in my identity. You have to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with others.

JESSIE: Having a trans partner is an entirely new world for me and my lack of knowledge often creates the largest walls in the relationship. There are many times when my partner is upset, and I want to help them more than anything in the world, but I have no idea how. Any action I choose could hurt them more than it helps, and I have almost no way of knowing what the best thing to do is. My partner tries to articulate what they are feeling, but it's like different languages.

Out in public

SORREL: Every time I go out, with my partner or not, I experience a multitude of microaggressions. Because of this, going out in public was the biggest worry I had when I met my partner. Knowing that they had never experienced that before, I didn't want to bring that burden on my partner and create a barrier in the relationship. A big part of going out is the communication between us of when to respond to the microaggressions and constant misgendering.

JESSIE: Out in public I experience a new world again. Around town, my partner and I get stared at, whispered about, and occasionally honked at. Even on the safer environment of the University campus, we can only pretend to not see the confused and sometimes hostile looks thrown at us. I fear going out in public with my partner because I don’t know what to do. When they get misgendered; how should I respond?

Sex

SORREL: The dysphoria I experience can make sex into an unbearable thought. Getting around this requires a fair amount of creativity and excellent communication. A key aspect of communication is being aware of your own thoughts and being able to translate feelings into coherent communication. Sometimes it's hard to articulate exactly what is making me dysphoric because Jessie has never experienced dysphoria. I’m the most vulnerable when we have sex, and having such a supportive partner allows me to be vulnerable safely.

JESSIE: Sex with my partner is also different from any other cisgender-heterosexual couple. Everything in our relationship relies on completely open communication, and that goes double for sex. When having sex with a trans person, it's incredibly important to be constantly aware of their body language and know when it's time to stop. My partner is good at vocalizing when they don’t feel well, and when they want to stop, but dysphoria can often shut down their communication. The one thing I can always do is stop whatever is happening and comfort my partner.

Final thoughts

SORREL: The key to everything is communication, no matter the identity of your partner. What works for us, may not work for every couple with one trans and one cis person, or any other couple. At the end of the day, speak up, and communicate openly with your partner. This is the key to a successful relationship.

JESSIE: Sometimes it kills me that I cannot fix all the problems that plague my partner, and I cannot make them happy all the time, but I have to do what I can. This relationship is a constant learning experience for me, but also is often a struggle for both of us. There are many things that we cannot solve, and still there is an underlying feeling of inadequacy that I cannot shake every time my partner feels down. Love is a learning experience, and there is no one I would rather learn with.

Sorrel Rosin is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and a freshman at the University of Oregon studying Family and Human Services with a minor in Queer Studies. Their most recent project is a website called WelcomeQueer.com, a database of which stores are safe and accepting for queer people.

the voice and vision of a new generation