This story appears in VICE magazine and Broadly's 2018 Privacy and Perception Photo Issue.
I met a man online recently. We talked on Facebook Messenger and video call; he was attractive, sweet, and had a lovely dog. Most important, he was kinky. I would have described him as “lazy masculine”—masculine with a good body, but not one from a gym; a beard that isn’t trimmed by a salon. Masculine that doesn’t shout “masculine,” but just is.
I liked him. When we discussed kinks, I could feel fluttering light kicks of sexual expectation kick in. We talked in enough depth for me to feel comfortable messaging him to say that I was trans and would like to meet in person.
His response was swift and unquestionably clear: “That should have been the very first thing you told me… Times are changing and I wish you luck finding someone else.” Then he blocked me.
I wasn’t sure which times were changing if his instant response was to walk away.
I can remember a time, back in the 80s and early 90s, when attraction lived outside of labels and descriptions. Occasionally, there might have been a pull that your mind didn’t logically understand, but that your body told you was real and worth following. Our physical bodies responded to others in real time, without needing to ensure that the corresponding labels fit.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.