I never stop coming out to new and old friends. Every time I converse about my weekend or about romantic or sexual adventures, I contemplate the terms my peers and I mutually understand. Most of the time, I can get away with saying “partner” and leave it at that.
However, more often than not, there is confusion when the people I identify as my partner(s) are cisgender women. It creates a moment where I have to describe the nuances of my own identity and the relationships I have with others through a medley of simplified, agreed-upon definitions.
When I scroll through my news feed, I find articles like “Things I wish I knew before I came out” or “Things to do after coming out.” These articles describe the “coming out” experience as a dramatic address and adaptation to the social ripples caused by breaking away from a heteronormative culture.
There is less of a focus on how the experience involves learning the terms that best describe your position in the cultural space and struggling to communicate these complex coordinates with your peers in the heteronormative world around you.
Dialogues that involve my partner(s) describe not only my intimacy and friendship with specific individuals but also the kind of person I am sexually involved with.
While a straight person can reference their person(s) without scrutiny in a heteronormative culture, any mention I make to a partner is held to a higher degree of scrutiny by both straight and LGBTQIA+ individuals because there isn’t a singular term that describes a trans (androgynous-femme) biological male involved with persons who identify as cisgender women.
The lack of a term is a blessing because it’s as close as I can get to living in a world where my gender and sexual identity are never assumed and not strictly defined, but it’s also a curse because when people make assumptions about me and my relationships, they’re always a little right.
When familiarizing my family with my identity, I presented myself in the most primitive terms because the jargon of my exact understanding of my current position is overwhelmingly difficult to communicate. Because I must define myself to different people in terms they understand, I am constantly tweaking my own definition. I am, in essence, always coming out, because I have never come out exactly the same way to different people.