[Guest Post] Happy Never After by Velvet Divine

Velvet Divine (fae/faer) is becoming something of a C&K regular at this point! I’m delighted to welcome faer back again with this wonderful person piece about being on the aromantic spectrum. Don’t forget to follow Velvet on Twitter!

Happy Never After by Velvet Divine

It’s fitting that I compose this piece as Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week comes to a close.

Let’s start from the top – my name is Velvet Alicia Lilith-Victoria Azshara Divine. I am trans-femme, non-binary, Sapphic, and – most recently discovered – aroflux.

Aroflux falls under the aromantic spectrum and is described as fluctuating between points of aromanticism (not experiencing romantic attraction) and alloromanticism (experiencing romantic attraction.)

I describe my particular experience as an inability to distinguish between romantic and strong platonic affection. I love my partners in the same manner that I do my closest friends, the only real difference comes in the manner that those affections are expressed and reciprocated.

This can also make something as simple as a crush or casual interest wildly frustrating as I’m never sure if I want to friend-up or bone-down, much less where the other party stands! Furthermore, it’s quite a hurdle to forming any semblance of a relationship or consistent companionship, at least on any level north of the platonic.

Alloromantic folks are (understandably) reticent about getting involved with someone on the aro spectrum and for those that I have been involved with, it was always understood to be an ephemeral arrangement, lasting just until the fire faded or they found an alloromantic partner.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve embraced being aroflux as easily and even enthusiastically as I have being non-binary, but that would be a fib of the highest order.

Most days I resent the realization.

As someone who has a voracious craving for physical intimacy and relies on sexual intimacy to find validation despite vicious gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia, it’s a cruel joke to only find those things in incredibly niche circumstances.

In no way do I want to imply that physical or sexual intimacy is necessary for a whole and fulfilling life or relationship, but these are aspects of intimacy that are important to me. Moreover, by niche circumstances, I refer to the already small dating pool as a trans femme Sapphic being further shrunken by those willing to engage in the necessary level of communication and understanding to navigate the caveats of my being aroflux.

Ironically enough, I’ve been essentially navigating the hookup and casual sex scenes as an aroflux person, just without the label. My various trysts and liaisons were short-term or consented to end at a set point – whether I felt I had too much going on to try to establish a relationship or the other party found a partner more suitable. At points, I even thought it was simply a matter of working through my baggage and trauma before I would be able to connect with someone on that level.

As my therapy progressed and under the copious amount of self-reflection required to cope with the current pandemic, I had the opportunity to do a lot of self-reflection and evaluation of what it is that I truly want out of an interpersonal relationship. This is when I began to realize just how little difference there was in my interactions and expressions of affection between my intimate partners and my close platonic friends. Often, the difference was only a matter of physical or sexual intimacy.

There’s an incredible beauty to the way I approach relationships and I’m endlessly bemused by the fae-like, casual contracts I have with certain connections regarding the comfortable ways we can exchange affection and the term limits that dictate until when that mode of affection may continue. But now and then I feel almost cheated.

I have a lot of trauma surrounding attachment and abandonment, to the point that I will frequently check in with people I’m close to just to ensure that my company is still desired in some capacity. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve expressed some version of the sentiment, “I don’t care in what capacity, I just want to be a part of your journey”. Up until recently, I had always held out hope for that fairytale type romance, whether that came in the form of one partner or many – the type of love my mother has told me my entire life does not exist and that society all too often tries to tell me that I’m not worthy of.

Now, by some caprice of fate, the door to a classic happily-ever-after is closed to me. 

I know that romantic love is far from the end-all-be-all, and maybe my current frustrations stem from a place of internalized arophobia and conditioned amatonormativity, but I find that I no longer have any clear picture or idea of what a possible physically intimate relationship would look like for me. A dear friend of mine recently asked me what the ideal scenario would look like for me and I said that the most plausible scenarios would be some kind of non-monogamous situation or some kind of queerplatonic arrangement with another allosexual aromantic person in a similar position. 

I could carry on as I have and see for how long this revolving door method is sustainable, but I’m tired of having to get close to people who will not be staying or being a placeholder until a better alternative appears. I could come to terms with the fact that what I want is unattainable and that it’d be better in the long run for me to get used to filling those needs with toys or vicariously through ethical and worker-owned media, but I can’t imagine either filling the gnawing void. Maybe nothing ever will. Which would track for me.

None of this to say that I don’t receive an overwhelming amount of love and support from my friends, I do, and I’m beyond grateful for it. However, there are things that my platonic friends cannot do for me, one of them being to commiserate with me on this topic. As far as I know, none of my friends are aro, and the few aros that I have met are aro-ace. So while there’s plenty of solidarity and support to be had around being aspec in an allo world, I don’t have anyone to relate to my specific situation.

I’m allowing myself the time and space to mourn the model and vision I had for myself as far as relationships go, even deleting my dating apps and taking myself off the proverbial goblin market while I work through some issues that continue to impact my interpersonal relations.

I hope that with time, I’ll learn to like and appreciate being aroflux for what it is. But until then I’m choosing to give myself grace for once and let the process play out.

I pay all my guest writers and would like to increase the rate, hire more amazing writers, or both. If you want to see more new voices on C&K, head to the Tip Jar to show your support!

[Guest Blog] “You’ll Never Pass as a Woman” by Velvet Divine

I’m absolutely delighted to be welcoming Velvet Divine (fae/faer) back to Coffee & Kink for the second time! You can check out Velvet’s last guest post for me and follow faer on Twitter!

This is your reminder that Coffee & Kink is and always has been a trans positive space. I’m cis and have a lot of learning to do, but I love my trans siblings and friends and am delighted to be able to uplift their voices on the blog!

Over to Velvet.

– Amy x

“You’ll Never Pass as a Woman” by Velvet Divine

“You’ll never pass as a woman.”

The last words my mother and I exchanged regarding my transition.

I came out to my mother and my aunt (and essentially the whole family, because no one in mine has a concept of “privileged information”) on New Year’s Eve, 2015 – subsequently ruining the holidays and turning the domicile into a Cold War simulation.

Some background:

I was raised in a Roman Catholic, Colombian household. Although our family subverted the usual patriarchal expectation with our generations of single mothers (and my situation specifically, being raised by my mom and my aunt,) we still retained a lot of heteronormative frameworks. My entire life I was told that I was a “man” and had outlined for me the behaviors that were expected of a “man”.

To be quite frank, I never internalized any of those messages and never identified with being a “man” or “masculine” in any capacity. They were just words and concepts tossed at me by virtue of the particular set of plumbing I was born with, but they never meant anything to me.

Fast-forward to much later. It wasn’t until I was exposed to actual LGTBQIA+ people and terminology that I learned that the issue was not my failure to live up to some nebulous, gendered expectation, but rather that those expectations were entirely immaterial to me. I began by exploring using “they/them” pronouns and more neutrally-coded terms for myself, distancing myself from my masculinity as much as I could. And it worked, for a time. (Note: this is by no means a censure or criticism of masculinity, simply my own experience with it and having it forced upon me).

After identifying as “anything but he/him”, for a few months, my thoughts shifted from “not a man”, to “maybe a woman”, to… yes. Absolutely a woman. Much like when I discovered I wasn’t heterosexual, my initial reaction was relief and joy – at the weight of doubt lifted and the prospect of being true to myself. However, that semblance of joy was, in both instances, quickly replaced by anxiety and frustration at the knowledge that I still lived in a heteronormative world and, whether it was randos on the street, the systems and powers that be, or religion, I would have to fight tooth-and-nail to simply be true to me.

For a year I kept my realisation secret from my family and workplaces, slowly coming out to close friends and my cousins (who are practically siblings,) as well as a few professors throughout the course of the year. Some folks gave me odd looks when they heard my name and pronouns, others had difficulty with the new pronouns, and others just dropped me. And while that hurt, no one had been abusive or malicious. I guess my mistake was expecting the threat to come from outside the gates rather than within.

The initial reaction when I came out to my immediate family was resigned silence. With the evening ruined, we all retired to our separate rooms. The next few days were fairly quiet and I mistook the silence to be one of processing instead of festering. What followed were six months of being dragged to various churches, an incompetent psychoanalyst (the type who claims that bi/pansexuality don’t exist and that people like me are just “promiscuous” or “greedy”), and debilitating dissociation. I wasn’t surprised by the pious or even the general assholes, but I felt beyond betrayed by the teachers and “philosophers”, who suddenly had nothing to say while my proverbial carcass was vivisected by the vultures of archaic values.

Throughout this process, my mother did her best to belittle and discount my identity – posing that I was a confused gay man, not trans, or that my sexuality was a phase.

I have to admit, there are few things in life that given me more pleasure than watching the color drain from her face as I explained to her that I was not confused and was quite clear on what and who I was attracted to, having tasted not only the rainbow but most, if not all, of the candy shop.

Mayhaps even more important than what I learned about myself throughout those six months, was what I learned about my family.

The sheer breadth and depth of their hypocrisy and cowardice.

Gossips and educators were conveniently silent, too cowed by tradition or my mother’s infamy to offer the slightest encouragement or reassurance. Alleged guardians who were far too married and enamored of the person they had in their heads, more than willing to sacrifice the flesh-and-bone individual to protect their fantasy. Child abusers, frauds, and narcissists are coddled, made excuses for, and prayed over but the queer kid wasn’t allowed the same clemency.

I wish I could tell you that we worked through it and had some appropriately cheesy Hallmark moment with accompanying music, but I won’t because we didn’t. I became the new Black Sheep, mostly because after what they put me through, I made it a point to fight fire with fire. If I had to endure LGBTQ+ bashing under the guise of religious expression, I quite happily delivered one of the appropriate biblical punishments for infidelity, violence, and fraud (to the point of telling an uncle that I’d bet money on their God being more fond of gays than cheaters) and eventually came out as an Atheist as well.

The best we have done is reach a point where the rest of them pretend it never happened. I assume they’re waiting for me to move out and be far away from them when I do begin the physical component of my transition – out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. They’ve learned better than to bring up homo-/transphobic nonsense in my presence. I am no longer invited to the vast majority of family gatherings and those that I do get invited to, I refuse.

If you want to help me to keep bringing important stories like this to the blog, please head over to the tip jar! Thanks again to Velvet for sharing this powerful story with us.

[Guest Blog] “Open to Trans Girls?” by Velvet Divine

I put out a call for guest blog pitches at the end of July and oh my, you folks delivered! I received some brilliant ideas and would have loved to accept them all. I’m absolutely thrilled to be sharing today’s fantastic piece by a new-to-me writer, Velvet Divine (fae/faer.) You can follow faer on Twitter!

To me, this post really highlights the experience of trans folks and the misconceptions and bigotry that too many cis people still hold. We have a long way to go. I hope that by uplifting trans voices in this space, I can make a very small difference.

– Amy x

Open to Trans Girls?

“Velvet Divine. Fae/Faer. Non-binary. Trans femme. Pan. Aro. Poly. Domme. Targaryen. Actress. Writer. Artist. Vegetarian. Trash fire. Nerd. Gaymer. Goth. For the Horde.” (My dating app bio.)

Due to living in a fairly small, Conservative town and working with clinically vulnerable populations, I am not yet out in my everyday life. I’m sure my identity as a non-binary trans person would compromise not only my employment but also maybe my safety. So, my main method of connecting with people for ventures north of the platonic is via online dating apps.

“Are you open to trans gals?”

Six little monosyllabic words, typed with practiced trepidation or tired resignation, depending on the day. More often than not, this is my first message to women I connect with on dating apps (specifically, cisgender women). Sometimes, it’s the third or the fifth message, following an initial volley of back-and-forth compliments. But it’s always something I feel the need to clarify as soon as possible. Part of it is in the spirit of transparency (pun intended). I like to get it out in the open in the event that it’s any kind of a deal-breaker. But the other part is a visceral fear of coming across as predatory.

Bigoted people have long been pushing a narrative that trans women and trans femme people are predatory, using their transition to gain access to vulnerable women and female spaces in order to sexually harass or assault women. A lot of us have, unfortunately, internalized a lot of this transmisogyny. When you combine that with my hyperawareness of how masculine I still present, you get a knot of anxiety at being perceived as the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

I had my first taste of this in college, soon after breaking my egg (trans lingo for “coming out” or realizing one is trans). I began attending the LGBT+ Center’s Women’s Group. The second of the two sessions I attended consisted of the facilitators addressing “concerns” that some were there for the wrong reasons. Cue all eyes on me. I was the only trans feminine person and, more importantly, I did not look the part yet.

They went around the circle, asking everyone to share why they were in the group and what they hoped to gain from it. I don’t recall my answer verbatim, but it was something along the lines of wanting to connect with other LGBTQ+ women and femme-aligned folks. I looked around for some measure of commiseration or solidarity, but met only silence and a crowded room of women who wouldn’t look me in the eye.

So I never went back to the group. After a few times, the facilitators stopped asking me when I would come back whenever we ran into one another. Maybe the others thought that I was there trying to pick up a date and took my lack of feminine clothing and makeup as admission to this perceived grift. Maybe I just projected my own insecurities and completely misinterpreted the situation. Regardless, that pit in my stomach never left me. I continue to feel the need to question whether or not I am intruding upon a space that isn’t for me, or offering my company to someone who is merely tolerating it.

I ask women who match with me if they’re cool with or open to trans girls and they’ll reassure me, many vociferously and graciously, with “trans women are women” or “I love ALL girls”. Others will make a crack about how it’d be silly if they weren’t, considering it’s plastered all over my profile and hard to miss.

I will continue to ask them if they’re comfortable. I will ask them when we plan a date and I explain that I will not be dolled up because I’ll be coming from work or getting a ride from a relative. I’ll ask them again if the subject of sex comes up and we discuss desires and boundaries. I’ll ask them again during the act itself.

“I am Non-binary and trans-feminine. At the current moment, I am unable to access HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) due to my housing and economic situation. I’m on the chubby side and I still have my bio dildo. If any of those are an issue, feel free to exit stage left.”

That’s what my usual “disclaimer” looks like on my profiles. I add these because, again, I want to lay my cards on the table. Because I’m afraid that otherwise, people will feel misled somehow. Logically, I don’t imagine that these disclaimers are anything but obvious. I’m thick and, even if cis women thought I was just butch, the mention of being trans and the bio dildo euphemism would make it clear. (I used to use the expression “fleshy strap-on” but that kept going over people’s heads). But you’d be surprised. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that cis Sapphics also often feel like they need to “disclose” that they’re on the thicker side up-front. Solidarity, sisters.

Even among the LGBTQIA+ community, there is a staggering amount of ignorance regarding the trans experience on the part of cisgender folks. I’ve had many people mix up trans women and trans men. Most recently, I had a woman ghost me after I corrected her misconception by reiterating the fact that I have a “bio dildo” and explaining the euphemism. Some of my favorites, though, are the ones who think that being trans is like a Magical Girl transformation and that by shouting that I’m trans into the ether, a la Greyskull, I will immediately undergo years of HRT and surgeries. I wish that were the case.

Though these hiccups are more common than I’d like, I’m grateful that they tend to come from places of ignorance and misunderstanding rather than malice. I’ve been using these apps for years and can count on one hand the number of times that women have been intentionally rude or hateful towards me (men are a whole other story). Women are always a treasure to connect with. Even people for whom the bio dildo and transition were deal breakers have generally been perfectly respectful about it.

I want to thank Velvet again for sharing faer insights in this fantastic post. I pay all my guest writers and would like to increase the rate, hire more amazing writers, or both. If you want to see more new voices on C&K, head to the Tip Jar to support the blog.