A Transgender Valentine


I used to hate Valentine’s Day.  It seemed like an excuse for people in relationships to flaunt them to raise themselves over the people who weren’t.  And at the time, be a transwoman, there did not seem to be any relationship in my future, near or far.

I was married to a woman for nearly 25 years when I came out.  Beginning transition completely destroyed that relationship.

Life goes on and I was pretty sure that it would go on with me being alone.  I resolved to adjust to that.  About the time I thought I had, I was contacted by a woman who read my submissions to an email list and wanted to get to know me better.  She was teaching English to the Japanese near Tokyo, so it was a very long distance friendship…which grew into a long distance romance and thence to a long distance relationship (LDR).

I wrote a poem about that.


My Love

As I walk in the brisk autumn air

And the sun warms me but a bit

You are walking with me.

As I stop amongst the trees

And listen to the wind in the branches

I hear your voice.

As I bundle myself in my coat

And rearrange my hat and scarf

I feel your arms surround me.

As I walk through the garden

And see the last flowers of the year

I see your face.

You are forever with me

My Love

Eternally by my side

In my dreams

In my life.

To feel your touch,

To see your smile,

To hear you laugh,

I long for these.

One day, My Love,

We will be together

And the word Love

Will gain new meaning.

Soon, My Darling,

We will be together

As our spirits

Have always been.

We will meet

And the world

Will be our garden

Forever, My Love.

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November, 1993

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately…one never knows about these things in advance), that relationship didn’t survive my surgery…though I did recover at her house in Bloomington, Indiana.

One thing leads to another.  I tried relocating to Seattle, going so far as taking a leave of absence from my teaching job.  Relocating was unsuccessful (no job offers), but I picked up a girlfriend.  That relationship ended when I had to move back to Arkansas (where my employment was).

I went on to meet another woman at the Women’s Project in Little Rock, which led to her moving in to my house.  That relationship didn’t pan out so well.  But while I was in it, I met my current partner and we subsequently relocated to New Jersey.

Yes, all my relationships were with women.  They were all lesbians.  If I had had a relationship with a man (God forbid), sex would have involved one penis and one vagina, which is not gay sex as far as I can see.  Men who have sex with transwomen are not having gay sex.  I struggle every time I see that sort of claim.

I also struggle with the concept that it was legal for me to be married to a woman for 25 years, but now it is not legal for me to be married to a woman.

I’ll let Washington Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) chime in here.

We all deserve a Valentine’s Day.  We all deserve to fall in love.  Not just fall in lust, or fall in sex, but fall in L-O-V-E love.

I have some dribs and drabs that I think are somewhat connected.

Jill Sobule is staging an updated version of Isacc Bashevis Singer’s Yentl.  Sobule believes her version is more true to Singer than Barbara Streisand’s.  For instance, none of the characters sings on stage.  Sobule’s songs are rather sung by a Greek chorus.  And it appears Yentl/Anshel (Hillary Clemens) is to be considered transgender, though there was no such word in the era portrayed.

Chances at Romance publishes romance novels.  I’m not an aficionado of those.  But apparently there is a break through novel about a transgender woman, Jaime Stryker’s Two Spirit Ranch.  I’m not considering a rush out to get it.  I’m willing to bet that the police officer who meets and romances the heroine who was born a boy questions his manhood at some point.  Maybe someone will some day tell me I’m wrong.

Very little news of any sort arrives from North Kurdistan, located in eastern Turkey.  But it seems there is a nacent LGBT rights movement there.

Hebûn LGBT was founded in March 2010, when the previous group in the area, Hevijn disbanded. Hebûn is different from Hevijn because we are more proactive in our political activism. We currently have around 30 active members, and we are looking to raise the awareness, both locally and nationally of LGBT. We had some media coverage about our work and have taken part in the Istanbul Pride march last summer.

We are funded by our transgender members’ work in the sex industry and from our personal funds. Although we have applied for various funding grants from Istanbul and Ankara, nobody has accepted our application and we haven’t heard anything from anyone.

That hit hard.  

Mentioned in the article is a independent film which I was not aware of, Zenne Dancer.  A zenne is a male belly dancer.  More on the film at Voice of America.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the film Albert Nobbs.  “Woman living as man” (for 30 years!) in order to find work in 19th century Ireland (first as a butler and then as a waiter), whose hope is to one day save enough money to open a shop, hopefully with a wife by “her” side.  Sounds a hell of a lot like a transman to me.  Glenn Close plays Albert (Oscar nomination for Best Actress) and Janet McTear (Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress) plays her friend Hubert, another woman living as a man who works as a painter.

Patrick Wallace over at Huffpost’s Gay Voices submits the following:

I know for a fact that if I didn’t feel loved growing up, I wouldn’t be here today. And I think that in many cases, those in the LGBTQ community who have found suicide as their only option would still be with us today if they had been surrounded by unconditional love and support.

A final thought for those who voted in favor of Prop 8 nearly three and a half years ago:

I hope one day you’ll have the benefit of knowing that we, the LGBTQ people who are your neighbors, teachers, doctors, artists, musicians, actors, politicians and — yes — your hairstylists, are a pretty phenomenal group of people. Maybe then we can all just get along.

Love probably isn’t “all you need”, but it’s a major thing we need.


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    • Robyn on February 11, 2012 at 00:03

    This is a little discontinuous.  I’ll try to finish it when I get home, but that will probably be after it publishes.

    • TMC on February 11, 2012 at 00:42

    • pfiore8 on February 11, 2012 at 01:25
    • TMC on February 11, 2012 at 01:57

    This was so eloquent and moving.

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