These scenes are written submissions from our staff and Autostraddle readers, illustrated by trans artist Bishakh Som. You can read more Scenes from a Gender here.
My name is Felix. My wife’s name is Leo. We met through mutual friends before the pandemic. By May 2020, everything felt uncertain except our love. Leo was working with the public, but with no health care. I work for a company that pays for my health care. We decided to get married that month to share my benefits.
The local county clerk’s office offered exceptions to help keep weddings small—the wedding just needed one adult to officiate and two witnesses. My queer neighbor officiated, and our two friends witnessed. The ceremony took place in our apartment building’s parking lot. We now felt ready for anything, including my upcoming top surgery.
After months of delays, I was finally getting the mastectomy I had dreamed about for years. Leo and I were nervous about the added stress of her taking care of me on top of working with the public in a pandemic. We found that the setting created tender moments. Soft touches, loving looks, and the feeling of safety around each other sparked an even deeper love.
I’ve since healed from my surgery and now pounce on any opportunity to take care of her.
I thought I would be unlovable if I transitioned. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to fit in with lesbians. I thought I wouldn’t be attractive to anyone. I tried to convince myself that I was unlovable.
But this experience has taught me that everyone is worthy of love.
I met Niko on Grindr. I had gone out with and spoken to other trans guys before, but had never been intimate with any until him. Many I knew or had encountered were either stuck in toxic masculinity or simply incompatible with me. I’m a slight narcissist, so I prefer guys similar to me — quiet, soft, playful, and mischievous. Niko met those requirements, and he was beautiful too.
I wasn’t nervous my first time with Niko and just hoped my cis-dick sucking skills translated well. In the dim light of my room, I could feel his packer underneath rough denim. I was lost in his soft kisses.
He suddenly undressed before me. And when I reached down again, his packer was gone. My hand instead met his wet excitement. After briefly rubbing each other, Niko directed his attention to my breasts with his mouth. He was gentle but firm, then slowly trailed his way down to taste more of me. He enveloped me fully, and I grew harder with every movement. I didn’t want him to stop, but I was excited to return the favor. After fumbling on my own, I directed Niko to sit on my face and take control. He forced my tongue between his lips. When he was finished, the makeup around my mouth had smeared off. I was erect, and he pulled me over to lie on top of him. I felt the full heat of his body as we continued kissing. With a simple shift, I slipped inside him.
I felt tense for a moment, but focused on the pleasure of our bodies instead. Internalized transphobia conditioned me to associate Niko’s parts with femininity, and after sex, I was left to ponder the hypocrisy in that. I was a trans woman who had spent years searching for self-love and sexual enjoyment despite the limitations of a cisgender world. I had allowed myself to remain confined instead of looking beyond what I had been taught. With Niko, I was experiencing my body without any scripts leading me. Enjoying each other’s bodies was the only guide. With most cis men, I have to align myself with cis women to accommodate their understanding of me. My efforts in doing so end up getting in the way of my own satisfaction. I didn’t have to perform with Niko. My body could just be. He was still masculine, and I was still feminine, regardless of what our bodies were doing. Niko widened my imagination to the possibilities of sexual intimacy. And unexpectedly, I was a little more healed.
He told me that he decided to become a barber when he got kicked out of a barbershop at a young age. The shop wouldn’t serve someone they saw as a girl or queer. After that, he knew he wanted to make a safe space for trans and queer people. He’s about 20 years older than me, so he’s as much a mentor as he is a friend. Even after all the years of transphobia and marginalization he’s experienced, he wears his identity with pride and lifts other trans people up too.
I feel so much safer in his chair than with the cis guy I used to go to. He has never made me feel bad about being anxious around being touched. (I get a little shaky sometimes.) I know I can trust him enough to relax. He approaches me with sincere care and warmth, and an almost paternal sense of affection. He always makes sure to tuck an extra towel into the back of my shirt so the little hairs don’t get into my binder, because he knows from experience that it’ll drive a person crazy. He fist bumps me sometimes which is silly but also somehow very validating? I couldn’t explain why, but it’s good stuff. He always uses my pronouns right and compliments me with masculine terms, which no one else ever does. I leave the shop with the biggest grin on my face, and it sticks for hours.
The conversation flows so easily. I appreciate having someone who just gets it and let’s me gripe about getting deadnamed at the doctor’s office, or chased out of a public restroom. He’s someone who will celebrate the progress of my transition with me. The solidarity is life-saving. It’s wild because the town I live in is pretty traditional and conservative, and somehow I’ve managed to find this amazing little refuge.
It’s so rare that I feel completely understood and valued, and I feel like only another trans person is truly capable of that.
When the three of us are together, the air fills with magic. Wynn, Lysi and I are all non-binary, but we relate to our genders in very different ways. These differences are part of what made it possible for us to love each other so well through our transitions—a name change for me, HRT for Lysi, difficulty coming out at work for Wynn, pronouns and top surgery for all of us. We asked each other good questions, gave each other needed time and space, and gently pushed each other when we were scared.
Our trans love story is one of friendship, partnership, and family. Wynn and I are married, and Lysi is very much our chosen fam. The three of us feel like our own little organism, and each pair has its own independent dynamic, too. Though Wynn and I moved to Nashville from Dallas, we still find ways to be present for each other and continue to support each other through the lifelong journey of transition. Because of them, no matter what happens in this transphobic world, I can keep trans joy at the center.
A few months into the pandemic, Lysi drove through Nashville to visit family in Ohio, as their grandfather was in failing health. It had been months since I had looked forward to anything, and hugging them in the parking lot, masks covering our smiles, felt like coming home. We went to the patio area in our apartment complex and Wynn grilled bratwursts and vegetables. There was an ease of being together, in a time when absolutely nothing felt easy. Wynn and I have good friends in Nashville, but it’s different to spend time in physical space with someone who truly knows you. We covered a lot of conversational territory, but I couldn’t tell you specifics. I just remember feeling settled in my body and a deep sense of the way the three of us belong to each other and the joy of sharing a meal with another human being in the sunshine. As the pandemic continually draws me toward despair, I remember that evening and know that soon enough we’ll be together again.