I met this young woman and we were getting along swimmingly—talking about books, cultural differences, ageism, racism, family issues, slut shaming, high libido vs. social norms, all kinds of cool stuff.
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We were connecting deeply. It was certified to me the moment that she teared up and said something along the lines of, “I’m so happy someone like you exists. You are truly a delight and a relief of a man to meet!”
I was very honored to hear these words, because I just spoke from my heart. I also listened intently and was curious about her history and her social circle. I told her, “Yeah, I’m a unique type of a man, but that also makes me a very solitary man as far as having male friends! Aka, I don’t have many at all, since so few see the world in the same way. My level of feminism isn’t typical!”
We laughed, kinda to keep from crying again. But the point was made, and we got closer. I was not intending on picking up this person, it was just a spontaneous conversation that sparked from a few words, and the words between us just kept flowing the whole time. I had no expectations, and didn’t establish certain intellectual boundaries that might have been sought after if it was a typical dating situation.
Alas, ’twas not, and thus the table was set to have plates of service with landmines under them, and food for thought that wasn’t kosher meat for me.
A red flag came up at one point, but I didn’t mind, since I was really not trying to be intimate, or so I thought. Then, it crashed: she said a word I never heard before. She said “At least they aren’t one of those “transtrenders.” I literally did the eye-blink, double-take meme. I was really taken aback by the term. Wow. I didn’t even know how to respond. I didn’t agree and subtly suggested some new ideas around trans life and sexuality, and they were receptive.
I am not trans, but I don’t have to be to care. I considered the future of our friendship with a harsh surprise lurking around the corner… but I suppose it’s a gamble we all take. I’ve heard the saying, “You don’t truly know your wife until you’ve faced her in divorce court.” The dark truth of that is: one’s shadow self is often where one’s biggest work has to be done, as well as it being the place where the truth often is released least. But once it’s out, the cat’s out the bag, and you basically do one of three things: freeze, fight, or flight.
That day, I froze. Next time, I’ll probably end up fighting. As lovingly as possible. I’m already fighting to keep the friendship going. But I will not tolerate any trans slander. That must go. Compassion and understanding must stay or be found. That’s non-negotiable.
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