It wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, and I have him to thank for that.
When I was about to come out as Transgender Nonbinary to my boyfriend now fiance in 2017 I was very wary. He is sensitive to topics of self and identity and has supported me in all of my endeavors. But I had heard so many stories about couples breaking up because one of them came out as trans, usually because the cisgender person is very protective of their straight orientation and then suddenly doesn’t love the trans person anymore because they are not the cisgender girl or guy that the partner thought. And to me, those stories were heartbreaking and I dreaded the possibility that Tyler could just suddenly stop loving me because I’m not a cisgender person.
How our relationship came into existence is just as cheesy as we are. When I was 17 and still in my junior year of high school, he was 19 and had just graduated high school. I actually met him on Tumblr. I liked his sappy and depressing poetry because we were all ‘deep’ like that and I decided to spread some love that day. So I messaged him and told him that I liked his poetry. He thanked me and the next day we continued to talk. About poetry, writing, space, Doctor Who, Supernatural, and eventually our lives and future.
I was definitely not one to shy away from internet strangers when I was younger, my mother can attest to this. Maybe it’s because I was too trusting of people or liked the adrenaline rush of being the rebellious kid, but let's just say my mom didn’t approve the legitimacy of this partnership until he decided to fly up to Oregon from Colorado and actually visit me. His first visit was in July of 2015 when I was 19 and he was 21. At that point, we had been long distance online dating for almost 2 years and had never touched, kissed or anything. My mom, of course, tried to talk me out of meeting him and didn’t feel okay about it until my aunt agreed to go with me to ‘vet’ him. He was staying in a hotel in the city and I felt like I was in a teenage movie as I rode the MAX train to go meet up with him in the town square.
We continued to talk. About poetry, writing, space, Doctor Who, Supernatural, and eventually our lives and future.
When we met in person we were shaking we were so happy. I loved him so much and I wanted him to know. Our first kiss was sloppy, but what else should we expect? Around this time in 2015, I was still very much in the closet about my gender identity. I hadn’t even really questioned it much, only the fact that my body and other “womanly things” never felt right and I had no idea why. After meeting I went alone back to his hotel with him and my aunt promised to never tell my mom about it (sorry mom). We swam in the hotel pool and talked about each other and admired one another.
That weekend was one of the best I’d ever had. Then he came back near Christmas that same year, and after that visit, we decided that we couldn’t live without one another (yes cheesy trust me I know), and we both saved up over six months to move out of our parent’s houses and live together that next year in July 2016.
We started off as a normal couple, if not a little ‘quirky’. We could finally be our weird selves away from our families and it felt liberating to have someone that accepted every part of you.
However, as time went on I was also coming to terms with accepting new parts of myself that I didn’t realize existed sooner. We all change over time but I was about to take one of the biggest changes and chances I’d ever made.
In 2017, I came out to him. I can’t remember the day that I did very vividly, I imagine we were in bed scrolling on our phones and I was shifting uncomfortably. That’s what I do when I’m nervous or panicked about something but I can’t spit it out.
He asked what was wrong and I bit my tongue. Suddenly the butterflies were fluttering like mad in my stomach. I felt like I was losing breath, vision, among other panic symptoms. Then he put his hand on my thigh and pulled me into a hug.
“You can tell me anything,” he said.
So I told him. I told him that I don’t believe I’m a woman and that I wasn’t sure what I was yet but that I wanted to explore and figure it out. And he was completely down for it! He said he was willing to do anything for me and I was even more madly in love with him than before.
However, for me the next year was rough. I was in an identity crisis the whole year. I felt like I was hiding around family, I constantly asked Tyler if he was okay with the fact that I wasn’t a woman, and I constantly watched Trans videos on Youtube frantically looking for information. Along came good ole’ dysphoria in the mix as well. I started feeling pain and insecurities about my body that I didn’t have before, that turned into panic attacks at night when I could feel every inch of myself. As you can guess, this also stopped our sex life in its tracks.
He didn’t seem to mind though, supporting me through every twist, turn, pronoun, name, label, etc. I finally decided on a label, Nonbinary. I asked for They/Them pronouns and I was still figuring out my name. He used my pronouns almost instantly (after some back and forth practice) but he tried harder every day. What’s better is he did what others seemed to refuse to do after I formally came out and actually used them in public. That won extra points in my book. The first time he used ‘They’ for me was the first time a person had actually seen me.
I started wearing binders to cover my chest, wearing less ‘womanly’ clothes that showed off my cleavage and started leaning more masculine. And every time I made a change that I thought he might have a negative opinion, he didn’t. And I was in bliss.
Turns out I wasn’t the only one going through an identity crisis. And these are his words- “I didn’t really have a gendered idea of you in the first place, I only called you my ‘girlfriend’ because it was what society taught me. Originally I thought these were bisexual thoughts but then when you came out as nonbinary I was like well, if you aren’t male or female then why should I consider myself straight? You mentioned pansexual and it fit much better than bisexual because it’s all genders and lack thereof and loving a person for who they are, not their genitals, body type or gender. Before this, I just didn’t think about it much”.
We tested out other things he could call me, “They-Bae, Partner In Crime, and more. And he was in for the long haul, as in December 2017 he proposed to me on Christmas Day. I said yes, of course. I eventually decided on a name, Rhian pronounced ‘Ryan’ after the song “Rhiannon” By Fleetwood Mac. He loved it and used it liberally, calling me affectionately.
I came out formally to the public and my family and friends in April 2018 and my relationship with Tyler has kept me steady and grounded through doubts, scares, and oh so many worries. But then after all my worrying my family actually accepted me completely, and I could finally breathe.
Since we both came out, it’s been two years and we’ve been to two Pride Days and taken so much pride in our identities, and became the two gayest boys around.
In January I get top surgery, and he says he is willing to be in the room while I go into surgery, to help me back to health, and I am so grateful to have him in my life. Without him, I have no idea where I’d be right now. Probably at some 4-year university that I hate, living in dorms that are nasty, and having one-night stands with people I can’t stand. I don’t even know if I’d have realized I’m Nonbinary, because he gave me the room to be myself and nothing but my whole self.
So Tyler, thank you. For Everything. I love you.