How's your Pride Month going? Good? Staying hydrated, I hope. At Very Good Light, we look to provide a platform for trans voices all year round. (It's always Pride Month at VGL.) Often, the first three letters of the LGBTQIA+ acronym receive more attention than the rest, so we reached out to trans people to talk about their unique experiences with love and their identity. These interviews serve as an ever-present reminder that no two relationships are the same — the nuanced varieties of all the ways the LGBTQIA+ community love each other only make this community more vibrant.
A big thank you to all of the contributors below for being so open and willing to share their stories.
Olive (they/them) and Charlie (they/them)
“My partner [Charlie] and I met at work. We were both writing tutors at our college's writing center. We worked alongside each other for a year before becoming friends and deciding to start dating. We've been together now for almost two years!
When Charlie and I met, I wasn't aware of how expansive my gender was. I was still performing as cis. I began questioning my gender about three months before Charlie and I started dating, and I'd be lying if I said that their overwhelming love and acceptance of my journey didn't have anything to do with us getting together. As a trans person, they were so supportive of my process of coming into myself. They understood that I needed time and space to grow and our relationship has been a safe and wonderful place to do just that! Our relationship helps me reflect on my identity every day. Being in a T4T nonbinary relationship forces you to question everything. Our relationship can't exist within the confines of societal expectations, so we have to commit to being our own biggest fans, loving ourselves when others won't, and appreciating how vast and limitless our identities are.
My partner is trans nonbinary. Being in a T4T relationship is vastly different from my other relationships. Before, people always saw me as a woman with a man or a woman with a woman. The dynamic of our relationship is not constricted to the ways that others perceive us. Relationship roles are often very gendered, but with Charlie and I, the roles are whatever we want them to be. We're free to make decisions about what roles we want to take on. We're also free to be ourselves and let the roles present themselves naturally. There is so much freedom in our relationship, and it's a wonderful thing to know that at any point, the structure of our relationship can change or be removed entirely.
For me, Pride means remembering our queer ancestors and celebrating the joys of living outside the gender binary. For Charlie, Pride means being themself and being true to who they are, and celebrating how far they've come to be the person they are now. Charlie and I celebrate Pride every day by supporting each other and being in community with other queer and trans folks! We like to celebrate our milestones throughout the year in big and small ways. (Sometimes I think Charlie is the only reason I have celebrated every month I've been on testosterone because they're so adamant about it!) This year we're also headed to San Francisco pride and are very excited to join the Trans March!” –Olive, @journalingolive
Heather (she/they) and Jack (he/they)
“We met when [Heather] was 19, and I was 24. She was a dancer at a strip club and I worked on their website. The moment I looked into her eyes, I knew she was going to be my wife. However, I wasn't out yet and was not as comfortable or confident as I am now. We dated briefly 19 years ago but neither of us was in a good situation, so we got separated for 15 years! I looked everywhere for this girl and finally found her. But we have now been loving and healing together since 2019 and married since 2021.
My partner identifies as cis-fluid. Her ability to understand the complexities of gender has helped our relationship tremendously.
We are both pansexual though I mostly just ID as queer. We love Pride and celebrating the radicalism of us being able to freely love and celebrate ourselves and each other as the humans we are. Pride is also about celebrating the solidarity and visibility of knowing that neither of us will ever be alone again." –Jack, @jacktivism101
Lorelei (she/her) and Becky (she/her)
“Becky and I met at a weekend-long event where I was the Keynote speaker. I saw her and her best friend in their plaid flannel shirts and asymmetric haircuts, found out they lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, and thought, ‘Ahhhhhh, my people!’ (That’s a lot of queer-coding of a specific type, for those of you playing along at home!) That was in 2015. We’ve been together since then, and we’re getting married this coming September!
Becky identifies as a cis woman (at least as of this morning when I asked her). As for how this affects our relationship, I could write reams of words about this. And have!
But one way this dynamic affects our relationship is that it reinforces the visibility of our queer identities. Just by being together and visibly affectionate, we amplify our queerness. The “normalcy” of our relationship is queering.
Speaking for myself, I've always dated women, both before and after I came out as trans. I've also spent much of that time living and playing in queer spaces, even before I identified as queer myself. So I never really absorbed the shame our culture tries to attach to queerness. I'm the same person I've always been. I’m just more honest about the gender I am now than when I was pretending to be a boy for all those years. There was nothing radical about me dating women back then, and it doesn't feel radical to me now. I'm simply in a relationship with a woman I love deeply. If someone has a problem with who I love, that’s their problem, not ours.
I can’t speak for Becky, but based on conversations we've had I think she would agree with a lot of what I say here.
To radically simplify a complex topic, I'd say that Pride is a celebration of our identities as queers — and a remembrance of those who fought, suffered, bled, loved, and stood up over and over and over again to be seen and counted as who they were, queer and lesbian and bisexual and gay and trans and all of the other identities under our rainbow.
It’s a party and it’s a march. A celebration and a revolution. Pride is visibility writ large!” –Lorelei, @loreleierisis
Jericho (they/them) and Ben (he/him or she/her)
“My relationship enabled me to come out to myself. I knew that there was something uncomfortable and unresolved about my gender presentation, but I was frightened to examine it too closely. I’d had a pretty harshly gendered childhood, and it had left scars. The deep love in my relationship changed that. Knowing that the totality of who I was could be loved by my partner enabled me to step out of the closet and into my truth.
I am sometimes very male and sometimes very female and sometimes something in between. Each expression of who I am has its own conduit of connection to my partner and each conduit has its own joys and intimacies. Moving between my genders creates a richness and a sense of thrilling shifting mystery in our relationship.
My partner is trans-non-binary. I’m grateful for it. I love getting to love both their male and female selves. I feel like their transness gives them access to a breadth of experience and curiosity that I really value.
For me, Pride is an invitation to express gratitude for those who came before me and made my coming out possible, especially trans women of color. It is an opportunity to affirm the sacredness and joy of the queer experience. For my partner, Pride is a way of flipping shame on its head and welcoming back those parts of ourselves that may have been banished as unacceptable and celebrating them. It's a way of coming together and honoring the totality of who we are.” –Jericho, @thealef
Cody (he/him) and Caroline (she/her)
“When I met Caroline, she identified as a straight woman and had never been in a queer relationship. As a queer trans man, I was very nervous about this at first. I was afraid she would want to be in a heterosexual relationship with a cis man and that that expectation would be put on me and our relationship. I was afraid I would have to put away my queer identity to be with her. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Through our relationship, I’ve got to see Caroline come to identify as queer and explore what that means to her! She values and supports me as a trans man. And I’ve been able to reflect more on what being queer means to me. It means being my whole self and sharing that with another person. It means centering anti-oppression and combating sexism in ourselves and our relationship on a daily basis. It means giving myself and my partner the freedom to create the life, home, community, and sex life that we authentically want. There is no one way to ‘be’ queer or trans, and my relationship with Caroline has continued to show me this.
Caroline is cis, and yes it does affect the dynamic in our relationship because we live in a cis-sexist society. I feel grateful that Caroline commits herself to learning about the trans community, showing up for us, and investigating gender essentialism in herself and her life. I feel comfortable telling her when something she has done or said doesn’t feel good to me, and she always listens and does better. But, because she is cis, there are aspects of my life and experience as a trans person that she will never fully understand because how could she? I don’t expect that of her, and I am lucky to have other trans friends that I can connect with in that way. What I appreciate is that Caroline and I both acknowledge and have spoken about the power dynamics involved in her being cis — we don’t ignore it. She commits to investigating her privilege and being an accomplice for the trans community, and I do my own internal work when I come up against internalized transphobia in myself about what it means to be with a cis person.” –Cody, @codydsloan
Meg (she/her) and Noah (he/they)
“We met on a dating app when Meg was pretending just to be looking for friends. (She'll vehemently deny this.) We just celebrated our four-year anniversary!
I can't say that my relationship has led me to reflect on my identity; however, this relationship has provided me with the freedom to explore my identity to its fullest. Meg met me when I already identified as trans, but before I started any type of medical transition, so all of those 'firsts' happened while we were together. I still find myself asking her, ‘Will you still love me if…’ as it relates to my transition and potential medical procedures I might want to pursue, and her answer has never not been supportive.
I guess Pride means holding up the legacy of Black and brown trans women who have paved the way for us to learn how to care for each other when others won’t. We celebrate Pride by being our most authentic selves and advocating for others to do the same.” –Noah, @noah.diggity
Harper (they/them) and Stevie (they/them), Joey (they/them), Afolami (they/them)
*Harper is polyamorous and has multiple partners.
"Stevie and I met through Tinder, and we have been together for three and a half years.
Afolami and I were on the same youth poetry team in 2012. Our teammate Gabe helped us breach into verbal communication, and we’ve been inseparable since that day.
Joey and I met through Stevie a year and a half ago and started dating a few months ago.
I'm very big on T4T energy and I know and trust we have everything we need to thrive, keep each other safe, and continue to love each other and change the world in transformative and healing ways. Trans people are the most beautiful and powerful people on earth, and that will never change for me, so the majority of my partners are and always will be trans. There is also a shared lived experience with other trans folks, and I need that.
I take a lot of pride in the solace we are able to provide for each other by simply being ourselves.
I am proud to be with Stevie, proud to parent with and alongside them, and to give our kids representation of disabled trans autistic adults whose lives are by no means easy, but we are still here. We get a lot of attention for being visibly trans, disabled, and together, yet it is possible to love and be loved even when you have to fight to remain alive in a multitude of ways each day.
And as I’ve been spending time with Joey this June, I am learning more about what Pride means to them. Their compassion taught me to be proud of my own limitations and not be afraid to ask for help. I can see the joy that transitioning brings Joey, which resonates in me. I admire how sure Joey is of who they are and feel honored to be a part of their journey and to have them as a partner.
Trans pride is living as fully and freely as we were meant to be; never in the absence of fear, danger, loss, alienation, or violence, and the ability to see each other through all of that. Trans pride is resistance, and it is love. It is as much grit as it is gentle, and though we owe no one our grace. Trans pride is grace, and it is fight.” –Harper, @achkaye
Kane (he/him) and Sabrina (she/they)
“We met working at a deep-dish pizza restaurant in Chicago in 2016! We worked together for three years and moved in together with a mutual friend in 2018. We developed feelings for each other while living together but dated other people. In early 2020 we started dating long-distance after Sabrina moved to LA. We just celebrated our second anniversary!
Sabrina and I have talked openly about gender, sexuality, and queerness since the beginning of our friendship. The conversations that we had around gender allowed me to open up and question things without feeling judged. I felt seen in a way I never had before. I came out as trans in 2018–19 while living with them. They have always been supportive of me. My identity shapes my relationship in every way. Being in a relationship with Sabrina is the best. It’s unlike any relationship I’ve ever been in. There is no fitting ourselves into traditional boxes; we share chores and responsibilities, we share clothes, and we just love each other. I truly feel like I’ve found my other half and not someone to fill a role.
My partner came out as non-binary to me before I came out to them as trans. We are constantly learning from each other about what gender means to us. We balance each other and though we express our genders differently, we have a mutual respect and understanding for one another. I think us both being gender non-conforming allows us a unique feeling of comfort.
Pride to me is a time to reflect on who came before us and who paved the way for us to comfortably live as openly queer today. It is also a time of celebration and visibility. Sabrina says: ‘Pride is when I and those I love get to be ourselves and live freely. Pride is being grateful that I’m able to live the way I live and continue to fight so that those who come after me can live just as freely if not more.’ We celebrate Pride in June by attending celebrations, but everyday is Pride for us. We’re queer on June 1 and we’ll be even more queer on July 1. And don’t even get us started on August!” –Kane, @kane_tattoos
Bobbie (she/her, ze/zir) and James (he/they)
“Bobbie was the front desk person at Ripley Grier and caught me using an empty studio I hadn’t paid for. So she was sorta terse with me, but I insisted on making friends with her anyway (also I needed her to print something for me). I ran into her a couple weeks later at Club Cumming and we really hit it off.
I had exclusively dated cis gay men previously, and had only just accepted my own nonbinary-ness about a year before I met Bobbie. At 15, I was ‘gay.’ My mid-20s I started leaning into ‘queer,’ now that I’ve been with Bobbie for over three years and I’m in my mid-30s, I would say I identify as ‘I don’t give a shit.’ Bobbie’s been on estrogen for a few years. She has breasts, and it’s hot AF. So I don’t care about my own label as much as I used to. Of course, that’s not to denigrate anyone else’s; I love whatever words work for you.
My partner is trans. Gender identity affects your relationship no matter what. Cis or trans, doesn’t matter.
Pride is very political for me atm. I just saw someone tweet something like, ‘I need everyone to focus a little less on ‘love is love’ and more on ‘there’s an impending trans genocide fomenting in this country.’’ (I’m paraphrasing). I think my partner and I both feel that weight a lot right now. I don’t know what we’re going to do to celebrate Pride exactly, but we’re doing our damnedest to pay our bills and take care of each other and ourselves. We’ll be in Provincetown for a couple days next week for an indie film we both did, and that feels very nice to say. We’ve never been, and we’ve been saving up, so I hope we’re able to re-energize a bit. I’ll be avoiding the Parade this year. Last year’s NYC Pride was a level of unhinged that made me worry for the community at large and lament the high cost of trauma therapy because folx fucking need it right now, lolol.” –James, @jamestison
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.