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Q: I know lots of other lesbians are into butch/femme, but not me. The problem is that my wife seems to be going in that direction. She says she misses my old lipstick days (that was my 30s and we're in our 50s now) and is really embracing her masculine side. This is also changing things for us in bed, where we used to sort of mix it up but now she's the only top in the family, so to speak. So here's my question: Is it more important for me to “be myself” or to try and stay open to these changes?

Congrats on your enduring relationship! We’re guessing you’re pretty good at weathering change or you wouldn’t have stayed together so long. Keeping up with a partner’s desires is tricky, though. “What we like sexually can change year to year, even month to month,” says Brooklyn sex therapist Carolanne Marcantonio, who specializes in LGBTQIA issues. (The “I” is for intersex and the “A” for asexual.) She sees couples of many kinds grappling with each other’s passing fancies.

Not surprisingly, Marcantonio wants you and your beloved to talk— but not while reclining together in the sack. “It’s important to have a conversation outside of the bedroom about what you both want and what you are willing to give and receive,” she says.

As for your wife missing your feminine side, Marcantonio asks, “Is there a compromise you can reach that doesn’t feel like you are giving something up?” For instance, how do you feel about playing femme once in a while? “You can still be yourself, so to speak, while enacting an agreedupon role play or power dynamic,” says Marcantonio.

You are absolutely entitled to say no. But remember, this is not necessarily about your identity in public or even the way you see yourself as an individual but about what you two as a couple decide to pursue for purposes of pleasure and, okay, love.

Finally, keep in mind that while experimenting in a long-term relationship can be intimidating, it can also be fun. Who knows what you’ll find out?


Q: I’m a transgender gay guy. I went out last night with this really attractive person who turned out to be cisgender. I definitely want to see him again, but I'm nervous because I've never dated anyone who's cis. Do I pretend he's not cis and go with the flow? Or are there specific things I should know ahead of time, about sex for instance? I’m only slightly comforted by the fact that I’m not his first transgender date.

This is a great question because it points to the universality of first date jitters—and the advice that pretty much always applies: Communicate. “Share. Listen. Avoid making assumptions,” says Portland, Oregon therapist Chris Hamann, who works mostly with trans and gender-nonconforming clients. “Just like no two transgender guys are the same, no two cisgender guys are identical.”

On the other hand, don’t rely on the new fella to play teacher because that’s too one-sided. “Do some of your own research about dating cis guys—use Google, find a book or zine online and ask other trans guys you know who have been with cis guys,” Hamann advises.

If things get sexual, he says, make sure to speak up about what you like and don’t like. “Remember that all bodies are different and we all have particular desires. Ask him what he likes, what feels good, what turns him on and what’s off limits. Talk with each other about what language you use for your bodies.”

Whether this ends up being a single encounter or something deeper, a good measure of body pride and mutual pursuit of pleasure will be key.

Also, “Tell him you’re nervous. It’s okay to be nervous.


Have questions for our sex and relationships experts? Email impact@lambdalegal.org. This information does not constitute legal advice. For more information, contact our Help Desk at lambdalegal.org/help or 866-542-8336.