By Rev. Francesca Bongiorno Fortunato
I was excited to learn that the theme of this issue of Bi Women is “The Bi-Trans Connection.” As a bisexual woman married to a trans* woman (lesbian) the theme seems to be about me/us. It also seems timely because two of my trans* woman friends have recently come out to me as bisexual (one of them through Facebook and the other via the happy accident of bumping into each other at a bisexual support group meeting: having that moment of, “Oh! You’re bisexual too?”)
So…The bi-trans connection. I know there is one. And, as I set out to write this piece, I felt very ambitious about it. I wanted to come up with some game-changing Grand Hypothesis that would explain and illuminate this phenomenon for the world. Sorry (sorry for my ambitious self as much as for my readers), but that’s not going to happen. The light bulb is not appearing. The apple is not falling and bonking my head. So, I’m just going to riff on this and hope something helpful emerges.
Those of us who are bisexual and those of us who are transgender have gotten used to being defined by others in ways that don’t usually jibe with our inner identities and self-definitions. We have become accustomed to crossing borders between worlds, seen but rarely recognized. We have been fetishized. Demonized. Idealized. Feared.
Perhaps we come together, as lovers and as friends, because we can cherish each other’s complete, perfect and beautiful humanity?
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that my wife is trans*, nor does she spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that I’m bisexual (at least I don’t think she does). But we’re probably both most aware of our B-ness and T-ness when we’re together at events (like the Pride happenings in June) which purport to be “LGBT” but don’t really seem to include either one of us very much.
I have had trans* friends pretty much all of my life, though I’ve made a few new ones in recent years, through my wife’s connections and events we’ve attended together (especially the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference). My parents had trans* (and lesbian, gay and bisexual) friends when I was a child. (The fact that there were bisexual adults in the “village” that raised me is why I started to identify as bisexual before my teens; I had been given the gift of that B-word at an early age, and knew that it described me.) As a teenager and Rocky Horror Picture Show fan, I had a lot of trans* (and “differently gendered”) kids in my crowd. There were also probably more teens in that scene who identified as bisexual than there were gay, lesbian or straight kids! SIGH. That was probably the only time in my life that being bisexual has felt “normal.”
Being spiritual people (and ordained clergy) my wife and I have both pondered a lot about where God is, in her being trans* and in my being bisexual. God made both of us “outside the box.” As people of faith (I think she agrees with me here) we’re called to seek the holiness in who we are, knowing that this, too, is part of what it means to be made in God’s image. Being “created outside the box” means finding the faith and courage to say yes to God by saying yes to the Godliness within us rather than retreating from it by trying to build boxes for ourselves. And, now that I think of it, my two friends who are both trans* and bisexual are both deeply spiritual women as well. I imagine that epiphanies of this sort have been part of their experience, too.
We (bisexual people, trans* people and those who are blessed to be both) are finding our ways in this world, together and as individuals, with pioneering spirits and minds opened to human goodness and beauty, in all of its wondrous forms. Perhaps, in some sense, we are leading the way for those who are still more at home inside boxes? I hope so!
Rev. Francesca Bongiorno Fortunato is an Interfaith Minister, dancer/actress, writer and dance teacher. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her wife, Lynn and the cats-incharge, Alice and Gracie.