Today, we’re very pleased to have Morgan Boecher guest posting on The Feronia Project. Morgan, who is trans male, runs What’s Normal Anyway, a webcomic about being trans male.
Sexual health takes on new meanings for those who transition from one gender and/or sex to another. Not only are there plenty of challenges navigating medical care for physical health, but there are the less frequently discussed issues of maintaining mental health while negotiating the minefield of sexual relationships as a transgender person.
When I came out and began the social and physical transition from female to male, I started creating a comic called What’s Normal Anyway. The comic helped me reflect on my experience, connect with others, and expand the narrow world of transgender media by a little bit. I also had a secret reason for putting my comic out there: maybe it would help me get dates, I thought.
Now, perhaps a webcomic artist isn’t quite the sexiest thing one could imagine, but while I was entering a realm of foreign gender customs and newly sprouting secondary sex characteristics, I was looking for reassurance in any form. Until that point, I had lived my life as a reasonably feminine female who did not have trouble finding straight boyfriends. While I had a hard time identifying with heterosexual dating scripts, I at least knew how to follow them. As a masculine person, I found that the rules changed. Straight guys no longer flirted with me, and what on earth would gay guys think of me? (Of course, there are straight and gay trans men, but they are relatively few and far between.) I sometimes felt more like a curiosity than dating material.
Dating experiences among transgender people must be incredibly varied due to the multiplicity of identities, sexual orientations, and bodies represented within the community. At the same time, each attempt to form a new relationship poses some degree of risk for a transgender person. A date does not have to react with violence or hostility to make a trans person feel disconnected, feel not enough of something – not man enough, not woman enough, not queer enough.
Dating presents another layer of challenges for transgender people trying to be themselves, and be loved and accepted as such. The will to keep in the game can require a great deal of resilience and self-esteem, and the journey is rarely clear and simple.
But hey, that’s what makes for good webcomic material after all.
Morgan Boecher is a Florida-grown New Yorker who is working on a Master of Science at Columbia University’s School of Social Work while he creates a comic about being trans male called What’s Normal Anyway, which he updates every Monday at whatsnormalanyway.net.