Question: Invalidating one’s Gender identity?

Taylor Trash asks…

I am a bio fem who identifies as third gender (not male, not female) and lives a very GQ life. My partner is a self-professed heterosexual male. The subject has come up multiple times: does calling himself heterosexual invalidate my gender identity?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on February 26th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 25 comments »

25 Responses to “Question: Invalidating one’s Gender identity?”

  1. Anonymous

    I’m in the exact same situation, and I’ve asked myself the same question. But the conclusion I’ve come to is that if he accepts me for the way I am and respects my identity, then it would be only fair to do the same for him. I don’t believe he is trying to erase my identity by declaring himself a heterosexual male, that’s just how he feels comfortable with himself, and that’s okay.


  2. Anonymous

    Only if your existence invalidates his sexual orientation.


  3. Mapie

    I’ve had the same issue a few times, where my boyfriend or girlfriend will profess that they don’t like men while they’re dating me, and they never seem to realize why I see this as a contradiction, but it always pissed me off…until I started catching up with my exes – most have dated guys and are calling themselves bisexual or pansexual nowadays.

    Now when my lover tries to tell me they’re girl-only, I just laugh.


  4. alphafemme

    I think there ought to be room for contradictions in identity, and I think people ought to be able to claim the identity that feels right for them, even if it may not SEEM right from an outside perspective.


  5. William

    I identify as heteroqueer. It’s a bit like “broadly heterosexual but with exceptions”. I *am* heterosexual and my genderqueer partner and my exboyfriend existence doesn’t rule that out for me. I see “heterosexual” as a term for a general preference, not a list of all the people to whom I could ever possibly be attracted. I like women. Fact. I am a man who is attracted primarily to women and I choose to define as hetero based on that. I AM attracted to people who happen not to be women but the vast majority of my attraction so far has been to women (I suspect this is changing but that may be wishful thinking on my part :p ) I love my genderqueer partner very much and refuse to call them “she” because they are a “they” not a “she”. My own identity as straight has nothing to do with their identity and my having had one boyfriend doesn’t make me automatically bi- or anthrosexual. Nor does the cute guy at LGBT i like…


  6. Jørgen

    Personally I think sex(as in gender), sexual identity and gender identity should be kept diveded. They can implicate each other, but they can exist perfectly well without each other. Sexually I like female-bodied persons only. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like female-bodied men or androgynes.
    My genderidentity is part of my character, of how I stand in my life, how I was raised and how I make decisions. It is part of my soul. My sexual identity is simply nature who fires hormones at me and makes me prefere one sex above the other. It is how my body functions. I do not feel anyone can be blamed for that or that anyone can question what nature has in store for others.
    In that line I suppose that with heterosexuality your boyfriend probably refers to you merely as a female-bodied person without putting judgement on your gender-identity. If he loves you, he probably accepts your gender-identity just fine without even knowing.

    Regards en keep well


  7. nick

    ‘heteroqueer’ is a fantastic phrase. love it.
    I guess that makes me ‘gayqueer’, sounds weird. I should go with ‘queerqueer’ or ‘double queer’ to make it even more confusing. (and then add my genderidenity and I’m ‘triple queer’. that means I’m practically a superhero.)


  8. Tilley

    I think the real question is whether or not you feel like it invalidates your identity. You have to look inside yourself and inside your relationship to find the answer. None of us can answer your question for you…


  9. Oliver

    Er, in response to somebody upthread, “female-bodied” *is* judging their gender identity. I don’t identify my body as female. I have body dysphoria, so “female-bodied” is exactly as gross as “she” or “woman”, and there’s no way I’d partner with someone who thinks of me as such.

    I agree with Anonymous. Labels are broad things, so if he always uses your correct pronouns, treats you as you need to be treated gender-wise, doesn’t say stupid shit about your gender… etc. etc. then all is fine.


  10. Zak

    The more I think about it, the more I think that when it comes to sexual identity it doesn’t matter what gender person you’re dating…it’s how you identify. I’m GQ and I’ve dated girls who identify as straight and girls who identify as completely gay. My current girlfriend has never dated a guy in her life and would NEVER introduce herself as anything other than a lesbian but she’s dating me, someone who is trans/genderqueer. She embraces and validates my gender identity, but I know that if we ever broke up she would date a woman. She loves women. Her connection to women makes her a lesbian, even if she’s dating me. She doesn’t have to change her identity to be with me. But really it only matters how YOU feel. My girlfriend’s identity doesn’t bother me, but I could see how it would bother someone else.


  11. other julian


    My partner (who identifies as gay despite my ungendered identity) was telling me about a program he was listening to last night that discussed the amount of people who identify as heterosexual despite a habit — that is, more than “just once while drinking/desperate/whatever” — of homosexual encounters or even relationships. There are enough people like this to do a study about them.

    I think everyone here knows that gender and sexuality can be really complicated and they can also change. A person may not change their identity (or at least the word they use to describe that identity), even if preferences are changing…or never matched that identity perfectly in the first place.

    There are a lot of things someone can do to invalidate a person’s gender (especially a person on the trans spectrum), but I don’t think this is one of them unless there is something else going on.


  12. anonymous

    The only person who can invalidate your identity is yourself. Would you stop identifying as you currently do if you left him?


  13. Samson

    I say hell no. I say others’ attraction to you, and their own labels for themselves, do not invalidate anything about you. If there’s anything being challenged here, maybe it’s his concept of his own heterosexuality.


  14. Jørgen

    @ Oliver
    I think I can understand where you’re going. If that is how you feel than it is such.
    But for me personally this is exactually how I don’t feel like. I strongly feel that it should not be important what kind of body I have when it comes to my gender-identity (apart from the practical problems one encounters in the cis-world). For me, people who have some understanding of this whole GQ thing should be perfectly capable of acknowledging my male body and at the same time accepting my non-male gender-identity. I think it should not matter what kind of body you have and that there thus is also no need to deny what kind of body I have. Sexually-wise people can decide themselves if they are attracted to my body or not. A take it or leave it situation. I (try to) judge others like that too. I thus don’t feel that being male-bodied would impose on my gender-identity.
    I suppose this is the PoV of someone who is in between and not that of people who have a stronger feelin to cross over completely. Or of people who feel a stronger tie to their gender-identity and their body.
    My personal view on Tayler Trash’s question is than that as long as they have a good relationship it shouldn’t matter how he identifies sexually. And I agree with the above comments stating that the truth on gender-identities is about how you feel is how you feel. Someone else can’t invalidate that feeling because he, she or he/she has different feelings than you. For that matter, that other person has just as much right to his/her/whatever feelings sex- and genderwise as you do. As long as you respect the feelings the other has about themselves and about you.


  15. tripod

    Could he maybe, instead of going outside of his comfort zone and saying he’s so much as bicurious, why not say heteroflexible or something with a bit of wiggle room but doesn’t change who he is? lol


  16. William

    On the “female-bodied” idea… I think some of it comes down to how you define “hetero”.

    I’ll explain. I’m a pre-operative transsexual man and I consider myself to be male in body as well as soul. I know that some other people don’t feel like that and that most people would define my primary partner and I as “Female-bodied” but I reject such a definition.

    I also identify as heteroqueer. I want to explain why. The “hetero” part is to explain that I am a man and I am primarily attracted to women. By women, I mean *people who identify partly or wholly as female, people who would consider themselves to be women* and in that I include people of any sex and any transition history. One of my girlfriends is a transsexual woman in the same stage of her transition as me, a woman who others might describe as “male-bodied”. The shape of her body is irrelevant to my ability to be attracted to it, I am attracted to females and she is female.

    The “queer” part of my self-definition comes in part from this as I understand that some people who define as heterosexual men are only attracted to people who were assigned female at birth and still others only to women who were assigned female at birth whereas I am attracted primarily to women and the shape of their body is irrelevant to me.

    Maybe the OP could ask their boyfriend what he means by “heterosexual”? If they find a definite incongruence between their gender identity and his sexual identity they might need to point it out to him as he may not have “seen” it. I always define as “primarily attracted to women” because I don’t want to exclude relationships that I’ve had or my fiance whom I love very much.

    I guess what I’m saying is that there are different ways of seeing one’s own sexuality and whether you are attracted to body types, genders or a combination.

    Would it bother you if he meant “attracted to people assigned female at birth”?


  17. candice

    no. you don’t control his fucking identity.


  18. William

    No, they don’t control his identity.
    However, I think the OP may wish to talk to their partner about exactly what he means by identifying as a heterosexual male. If he means that he is only attracted to women then there *is* a problem because his partner is not a woman and does not wish him (or anyone) to see them as such.

    I too identify as a heterosexual male (see my posts above) but whenever the question of my sexual identity comes up in conversation I make it clear that my own heterosexuality isn’t prescriptive and that I can be and am romantically and/or sexually attracted to people who are not women and women whose bodies have never been assigned as female.

    I wonder if Taylor Trash’s boyfriend has ever thought about what it means to him that he IDs as heterosexual. If he’s thought about his feelings and come to the conclusion that the label “heterosexual” is the best way for him to identify then all I think needs to happen is for him to talk to Taylor and explain how he feels. If he hasn’t done that thinking yet, maybe Taylor could help him to do it. What they shouldn’t do is tell him how they think he should identify (that really would be controlling his identity).


  19. XylophoneGender

    oooOOOOooo. “heteroqueer.” Likes.
    And “gayqueer.” Hehe, messing with labels is fun.


  20. Louche

    I do not identify with gender. However, telling people so does not seem to affect their attraction to me. Identity is both self-defined and defined by others – it is, of course, a way of defining an individual in relation to others. I am sometimes more attracted to transmen than to transwomen even though I am primarily attracted to women – because the bodies of transmen may resemble more the bodies of queer (androgynous) women I am usually attracted to. Someone I was interested in told me ze identified as androgynous, and I told hir I did not identify with gender; however, both of us are primarily attracted to women… there was still everything that made us attracted to people as usual – the femaleness – and that was what mattered, not that we claimed to be androgynous/genderless. I wouldn’t have contested hir attraction to me any more than my attraction to hir!

    Although… I also refer to myself as queer, rather than lesbian/gay, so that gets me around the technical problem. As for hir, well, I’ll let hir identify however ze chooses. It won’t change a thing.


  21. Lyn Aven

    I’m in the same boat, really; I’m genderfluid but my wife (despite being LGBT-supportive) is as straight as they come. It does get a little awkward at times. My issue, though, is more if MY identity interferes with HERS rather than the other way around. I know who I am.


  22. Anonymous

    For him, heterosexual identity might be more about the sex of the people he’s into than their genders.


  23. Lilybean

    Two words: male lesbians


  24. elle

    I am in a similar situation – I biologically female, mentally androgynous and asexual. Yet my significant other is biologically male and gets very uncomfortable when I discuss asexuality, androgyny and being an “ally” (because everyone assumes I’m straight). He does get flustered, though, if referred to as heterosexual as though his orientation defines him. So I find it awkward all around that we’re so stubborn about labels when we’re all just human and want to support each other.


  25. Nai

    Lilybean: Agreed. In case anyone isn’t familiar with what they mean:


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