Dating a non-binary person.

I recently entered into an open relationship with someone I’ve known for nearly two years.  This person lives in Manchester and I don’t yet.  But we’ve both liked each other for a very long time, with the exception of when we were with our exes.  This person also came out as non-binary very recently.  It saddens me to say that I was not as educated on non-binary issues as I should be.  I am a trans* activist, and I haven’t done enough for my non-binary siblings.

In talking to this person, they told me things that I related to.  About not feeling happy in their skin and gender issues.  But they told me something that hit me hard.  I am fortunate enough to know that transitioning into a man, taking testosterone, having “top” surgery, I’m not sure about bottom surgery, because frankly it’s not very good yet, and I don’t feel that I need it the way I need my breasts gone.  But I digress.  This person said:  You can transition fully and be happy in that. I can’t transition fully and be happy with that. I feel like I can’t grow old as a woman and I can’t grow old as a man.  I’m in the middle.

In that moment I just wanted to be able to teleport myself to Manchester and hug them.  I wanted to tell them that I don’t understand everything, but I love them and care for them regardless of how they present, or how they feel. I  did tell them these things, but it’s not the same as being there physically and telling them face to face.  We talked about things at length.  About coming out.  About what to say to their parents.  What pronouns should I use?  What name?  Right now they have asked me to use they/them and sometimes masculine.  I call them a gender neutral version of their birth name. 

They told me things like, I can’t wait until you are here and we can just go to London for the weekend and take me shopping for androgynous clothes and just spend the weekend together and I can present as a more male version, but still androgynous.  And we can just go places where people don’t know me and I can just be safe with you.  I told them that I would send them my binder because I don’t use it anymore and it’s still in really great condition.  I also told them that they can get on T as a low dose, in gel form, because since they still make oestrogen, they would feel the effects a lot slower, because they want androgyny.  They want a lower voice.  Not where mine is, but lower.  But I told them that there are doctors that will help them and I told them to find the documentary on non-binary trans* people called Gender Rebels.

I told them things I’ve told many people:  There is no guideline on how you have to be trans* or transition.  You get to Fleetwood Mac it and go your own way.  You can decide how little or how far you want to go.  I told them that if they take T or don’t, if they come to the conclusion that they want feminine pronouns, or masculine, or if they want it to be like how they are now, which is gender neutral, unless they are presenting as male, that doesn’t affect our relationship.

It’s like one of the first things they ever told me nearly two years ago: I care about your gender because I know that it is important to you.  I care about your issues that you face.  I care about your transition, but your transition doesn’t affect how I view you. It’s one part of you.  It affects a lot of your life, but it is not your end all be all personality description.