Bi and Trans at a Play Party

3/18/17

Picture this: a cozy large room of beds and couches and dozens of queer people everywhere expressing their sexualities. Before one month ago, I had never been part of such a large group of queer folks. After that night, I know how important it is for me to continue experiencing the freedom and friendship I found at a queer play party.

Understanding my sexuality as bi has been a process. It wasn’t until I attended this play party (aka sex party) that my sexual identity clicked into place and I felt comfortable calling myself bi.

For a long time, the only definition of bi I had heard meant attraction to both men and women. This definition made me believe I could not be bi for two reasons. First, I’m not interested in sexual or romantic relationships with men. Second, I’m not a man or a woman. If bi meant attraction to men and women, how could I be bi? There was no room for my gender and sexuality, or so I thought.

At the play party, I met a lot of people. To be honest, I was really scared for the first hour because these were all strangers to me. I have an anxiety disorder, and in social situations I tend to sweat profusely and twitch a little. It’s not a sexy feeling. My fear slowly subsided as more and more people entered the room. I felt my body getting excited, which made me sweat more but whatever. I was feeling attraction towards many of the people around me, and because of how large and diverse the group was I immediately saw the pattern in my attraction. Feminine and nonbinary presenting people were all the ones I wanted to make out with. Masculine presenting people I hardly even noticed, even though there were many at attendance.

I took this selfie a few moments after my first shot of HRT (hormone replacement therapy). Easily one of the top 5 happiest moments of my life.

During the past years of identity exploration, I’ve worn many labels. Sometimes it’s necessary to go through several identities before you find yourself. When I was 22, I called myself a lesbian and a cisgendered woman (cisgendered means you are the gender you were assigned when you were born). At 24, I found language to express my gender: trans nonbinary. Being transgender means I am not the gender I was assigned at birth. Being nonbinary means my gender is not male or female. My gender exists entirely outside of the binary male/female gender system. This was so great, having a way to express and know my gender. However, my lesbian identity was suddenly called into question because to call myself a lesbian meant also calling myself a woman. Lesbian sort of encompasses sexual orientation and gender in one word. Since I’m not a woman I don’t want to call myself a lesbian, it isn’t true for me. I did not understand how my gender could fit into the bi community. I’m not a man, I’m not a woman; I’m nonbinary. But the only definition of bi I’d heard made no mention of my gender group. So how could I be bi?

My roommates are bi. I’ve been learning from them about how roomy the definition of bisexuality actually is. What I’ve learned is that bi really means attraction that isn’t limited to one gender. At first I was like, wait, isn’t that pansexuality? However, pan means attraction to all genders, or attraction without regard for gender. Therefore, there is crossover between pan and bi, but at this point I’m probably boring you with my love of defining words, so let’s go back to the sex party.

I thought it would be fine to make out or cuddle with any gender at the party. I didn’t mind the queer men at the party. Yay queer men! After a few of them offered me hugs and I felt uncomfortable and declined, I knew I needed to find the people I wanted to get intimate with. I wanted closeness with trans people, feminine and nonbinary. Once I gave myself this freedom, I had the best night flirting and cozying up with people exuding those gender expressions. I felt euphoric and blissful (though still so sweaty). Experiencing my sexuality so clearly around so many queer people was an amazing feeling. When I got home and caught my breath from all the excitement, I had a huge smile on my face and in my heart. I am bi. I am bi!

Maybe you know this feeling of finding a word and a community encompassing your experiences and desire. Bi was a word I thought couldn’t include me because of my gender and attraction. I was wrong. Bi has more than enough room for nonbinary genders and nonbinary attraction. Bi includes me. Being finally able to understand and express my bi identity gives me more freedom to find satisfying relationships, at sex parties and beyond.

Jo Proginoskes
Jo Proginoskes (they/them/theirs pronouns) is an MFA in Creative Writing student at Mills College. They enjoy writing about being alive, science and nature, and queer experiences. When they are not reading or writing or sleeping, they like to watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns or go for walks with their tiny terrier dog. You can find more of their writing at joprogo.wordpress.com.