Scroll To Top

Being Trans Helped Me Define My Bisexuality

Jessie Bisexuality

There are few roadmaps for kids growing up bisexual and transgender.

The first time I kissed a boy, it confirmed all of my worries. As a young boy sitting in his bed with the cute guy from down the street, I finally knew who I was. Not that I was gay, queer, or bisexual. Instead, my first kiss told me I was transgender.

Growing up, I always felt like I was a girl. I wanted so badly to be included as part of the girls in my school. I loved to dress up in women's clothing and play with dolls -- all the stereotypes of a young girl. Yet none of these seemed like tangible proof to me that I was a girl. So, as a child, what was something that I couldn't back away from? What was it that only girls want? A boy.

When I learned that I was indeed sexually attracted to boys, it felt like the validation I needed to say I was transgender. I was a girl. A straight girl. Well, kind of; I certainly did like girls, too. It was a strange feeling of finding girls attractive while also being jealous of them. It was two different emotions that, for a child, were extremely difficult to parse out.

Liking girls felt antithetical to the larger, more pressing conflict of being transgender. If I liked girls, then how could I be a girl myself? I certainly knew that lesbians existed, but how could I be a lesbian? I also liked boys. No, my liking of girls had to stem from my having the wrong hormones, or just being raised as a boy instead of the girl I was supposed to be. Yet how could I be gay and want to be a girl? The growing list of identities felt too complicated to sort out, so I focused on the one thing I knew was more important than all others -- I was transgender.

When I finally came out as transgender years later, I leaned into enjoying boys. It made sense. Being with a boy was a quick and easy validation of my still newly revealed identity. People would quickly understand my desire to be a girl if a boy validated it. Yet I also quickly discovered that I didn't want to be completely validated as a girl, because I felt more nonbinary.

I still knew that I liked girls. At first I resisted this, but as I grew more confident in my nonbinary gender identity and how I wanted to express it, I gradually became more confident in showing my desire for girls, despite being a girl myself.

Only after finally understanding my gender identity did I feel confident expressing my sexual orientation and what gender identities I felt attraction to. A greater understanding of my transgender identity helped to better define bisexual identity.

Sexual orientation is so intrinsically linked with self-gender identification. While we can say for ourselves what gender identities we like (boys, girls, or any other variation), so many of our sexual orientation labels that we use are intrinsically linked to both the genders you like and your own gender.

Being straight is when your gender identity is opposite of the one you like. Being gay or lesbian is liking the gender identity similar to your own. Even the umbrella concept of being queer, which can include bisexuals, carries with it an assumption that you like a gender identity similar to your own.

Yet if you are a genderqueer person who only likes men, what is your sexual orientation? You're not gay, because you're not a man yourself. You're not straight, because you're not a woman. You're not even pansexual or bisexual, because you only like one gender identity.

Doing research, I recently found that a whole line of thought that argues to remove self-gender identification from sexual orientation. An androsexual is someone who is attracted to men, a gynesexual is attracted to women, and skoliosexuals are attracted to transgender or genderqueer identities. Bisexuality and pansexuality are the only sexual orientations that do not automatically assume a relationship to your own personal gender identity.

Perhaps this is why I am so proud of my bisexuality. Not only does it express my attraction to both men and women, it also didn't presume my gender and enabled me to fully explore my nonbinary nature. At the end of the day, being transgender helped me define my bisexuality. Yet at the same time, my bisexuality reflected and embraced my nonbinary identity. Both elements of my queer identity fully reflect and enrich who I am.

JESSIE EARL is a video producer for The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @jessiegender.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Jessie Earl