As a budding gender guru, Angie’s Young Lover has asked about my partner Van, specifically
how does Van identify? or, rather, how do YOU gender up your Van?
AYL asks because the discussion following my Lucky Girl post turned to gender, as it always seems to here. So, for inquiring minds, Van identifies as a butch lesbian. I know I make it sound like we disagree on everything, but Van and I actually agree on that. To put my twist on it, I would describe her as a button-down butch who is not transmasculine. Aside from the button-down reference (which is really about style), what I’m trying to convey in my description is that Van sees herself as gender variant but not trans. Let’s double check on that, though. “Is that right, honey?” I ask. Yes, she’s says, that’s it.
But gender is complicated, isn’t it? Van just told me that at a business meeting a few days ago she was read as male. She knows because the greeter, who appeared to be about 75 years old, announced her as “Mr. Van is here” and kept referring to her with male pronouns. I didn’t realize that this ever happened to her because when we go out together, we’re always seen as women, as in “what can I get you ladies today?” To clarify, Van says she’s usually read as female and if she is called sir, it’s almost always a situation in which someone sees her from the side or back, and then quickly apologizes when she turns and they realize she’s a woman.
Van is a pretty private person, which is why after blogging for almost a year I still have said very little about her, but describing her as a butch lesbian doesn’t really do her justice because she’s so much more than her gender, as I think we all are. So here’s a little snaphot of my Van. She’s funny. In fact, her entire family is funny (unlike my relatively humorless clan). I was first attracted to her not only because of her sense of humor but also because of her strength, which made me feel safe during a difficult time in my life. She moved 2000 miles to support me in my career. She calls me honeybun when no one else is around to hear. (Shhh…don’t tell!) She’s the kind of person you can always count on to do the right thing. We just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary!
PS For you twentysomethings out there, here’s something that will blow your mind. Van & I met through the personals (I answered her ad), back when they were in newspapers. In those days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, after checking out someone’s ad you would call and listen to the person’s prerecorded voicemail and, if you were interested, you’d leave a message for them. I was definitely interested. I thought Van’s voice was hot. Still do, as a matter of fact.