Content Warning: cisexism sexism

Being someone who identifies as both female and male (in different amounts at different times), it’s not hard to see why I would find dating bisexuals (and pansexuals) advantageous. I am someone who exists between traditional expressions of male and female and find myself acting out different roles in different situations. A person who was only attracted to one mode of expression would find it difficult to follow the fluctuations of my gender expression, and I would (I sometimes still do) feel trapped into performing one role, and one role only.

I have also found that bisexuals seems somewhat more socially accepting of gender ambiguity. Perhaps because they’ve already had to accept something society sees as “ambiguous” about their own sexuality, something stigmatic. A person who has fixed relations to different genders never has to consider changing their own role in a given situation, for example, when relating to a potentially attractive man or woman or other person. Being in a relationship means changing your own gender role, for most people; for example: expressing more emotional support in an intimate way to a partner than you would to most other members of their gender. In a straight relationship, this is mainly left for the feminine party to do.

My own sexuality (i.e. who I find attractive) seems fairly inflexible, contrary to my gender. I am mostly attracted to larger, stronger, hairier people with masculine personalities. It’s just that occasionally I meet someone who does not have stereotypically masculine characteristics who I find attractive. So far, I haven’t had all that much interest or experience in actually engaging with these people despite wishing my choices were wider.

The history of the space I occupy within the LGBT umbrella is a varied one. When I was 16, I came out to myself and after a while, others, as a lesbian, mostly because I felt more free to express myself in different ways with that label (and probably also because I briefly had a biphobic girlfriend). Later on I realised that I was interested in boys, too, so I identified as bisexual, but still felt that something wasn’t quite right. Just before going to university I realised that I was trans, and in my ignorance of non-binary gender decided that made me a boy. I knew I was in unrequited love with another boy, but also kissed a couple of women. When I started taking testosterone, I lost most of my interest in women, and so ostensibly was gay—but soon after realised that I wasn’t happy being a boy. So I began to inhabit the space I am now.

I seem to have figured out my roles as a gay man/straight woman when interacting with male-identified folks, but had a less easy time identifying with straight men/lesbians. Many factors could contribute to this. It could be my innate “sexual orientation.” It could be that people like me, who were Assigned Female At Birth (AFAB), are stereotyped as lesbians who are running away from the stigma of being gay (as if being trans is any less stigmatic!), and I am avoiding dealing with that baggage. It could be that I just haven’t found the right woman (hah), or that I find the straight male role distasteful and am not very interested in relating to others in that privileged way. It seems like hormones have the power to change my sexuality, but I don’t think much research has been done to figure that out, even though many trans people experience the same thing.

Sometimes I wish I was attracted more to people inside the trans community. Most trans people end up having relationships within the trans community, for good reason, but I feel like I have to stick one arm out of it. I don’t seem to be interested in androgyny, either. Cis men, of whichever sexuality, are difficult to be in relationships with. They are not brought up to understand concepts of compromise and mediation. They do less housework, they do less emotional work, and in my experience, most suggestions as to the unfairness of the situation become relabeled as nagging. Millennia of sexism have refined social sexism into a system of pitfalls determined to keep feminine people under wraps. If you’re loud, you’re too bossy; if you’re quiet, you’re likely to get walked all over. If you’re upset, you’re being emotional; if you’re calm, you’re not taking a man’s feelings enough into account. My male side makes it easier for me to see microaggressions as unfair and to resist them. But it doesn’t stop them from happening. That’s who I’m attracted to, for the most part, and it doesn’t seem about to change.

Being a bisexual should afford you opportunities to examine the dynamics of different romantic situations you’ve been in with people of different genders. Hopefully, if you’re male- or masculine-identified, this will leave you with more sensitivity toward your more femme partners. Bisexuals, being another group that often gets overlooked in the LGBT community, should have more support for the trans community. Both groups would benefit from a closer relationship. (And I don’t mean just in a sexual way…)

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Cleo Glowaski is a white able-bodied British-American mixed-gender person currently living in Manchester, just Manchester. Ze also writes for Beyond the Binary, an online magazine for non-binary people.