Once upon a time, on the pretty messed up app known as Grindr, I met someone. He was completely okay that I am female to male transgender, and we had common interests in Star Wars, Marvel, a queer Australian dramedy called Please Like Me, and politics. He invited me out for coffee, which was hard because I had transportation issues. Nevertheless, I proceeded to invite him to a Starbucks location in my area. Our coffee date was a week or so after we had begun talking on Grindr and traded phone numbers.
What should have been the first red flag of our relationship was that he was adamant on our coffee date that he, a teenaged cisman (an individual who was born male and identifies as male), wanted biological children. I explained to him that I had a genetic mutation that made having a healthy pregnancy difficult. I had canceled my winter term due to being in severe chronic pain, as I had been diagnosed with a 10-centimeter benign tumour on my ovary and I was awaiting surgery to have my ovary removed. He said he would do anything for me during my recovery. I mentioned to him that if a trans man wanted to become pregnant, he would have to go off of testosterone if he was taking it. A lot of trans men, myself included, become dysphoric about the thought of becoming pregnant. He said that he was okay with me not wanting to become pregnant and that he was still interested in a romantic relationship.
For the first month, he texted me every day. He was pushing things a little too fast for my pace and I felt smothered by the attention, but I just figured that this was the honeymoon period. When he stopped texting me, wondering what I was up to, and seemed to lose interest in me out of nowhere, it was a shock to the system. He started blowing me off and did not want to hang out at all. I would have to initiate visits, even though I was the one who would have to take a 45-minute bus ride to his apartment with my severe chronic pain. This is a form of emotional abuse that is called love-bombing.
Love-bombing happens when an individual showers you with attention to get them in your good books, according to an article called “What Are Ghosting, Benching, Gaslighting and Bombing? Tactics of Emotional Abuse,” from Becky’s Fund, an organization working to end domestic violence. In this specific circumstance, I believe he stopped showering me with attention when he realized he would not be receiving biological children from the relationship. Love-bombing is also pushing the relationship too quickly for the other person in order to manipulate the other person into having a romantic relationship, according to “What Are Signs of Love-Bombing? 7 Behaviors to Watch Out For, According to Experts” by Laken Howard from Bustle. Narcissists use this type of emotional abuse to pressure their partner into doing what they want. The relationship typically does not last long due to the love-bombed seeing their partner’s true colours. They struggle to maintain an equal, mutual relationship. Whether the love-bombing was due to wanting biological children at a young age in my case, I am not completely certain; however, in my opinion, he treated me like such rubbish during the entirety of the relationship due to my level of infertility.
Then the day came for my surgery, about two months into being in contact with him. I was super nervous but excited because this was the cure to my severe chronic pain. I texted him when I was being prepped, but he did not come off as supportive whatsoever. I woke up from the surgery, but I only had two incisions, which was weird because I was supposed to have three small incisions and one bigger incision. My parents and I did not think anything of it, as my surgeon did not come in and tell us what had actually happened, which was different from the other post-surgery experience I’ve had. It turns out, however, that there was no tumour in the first place. We had only figured this out when we came home and read the discharge report. Instead, the mass we’d been told was a benign tumour was my bowel on the ultrasound, and they had not removed anything, and the surgery was labeled a diagnostic laparoscopy. Alberta Health Services confirmed this when we asked to open an investigation.
I messaged the guy I’d been seeing while I was freaking out, but he did not seem to care about my ordeal. He did not ask questions, he just brushed it off like it was nothing. This further solidified his narcissistic abuse. This type of abuse can be seen when a narcissist inflicts emotional abuse on another individual that includes, but is not limited to, manipulation, gaslighting, lying, neglect, and withholding, according to “How to Spot Emotional Abuse” by Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT from Psychology Today.
His attitude also confirmed his reproductive coercion, in my eyes. Reproductive coercion is the action of someone seeking to control the reproductive health of their partner, according to “Reproductive Coercion is Abuse. But Many Women Don’t Even Know It” by Hillary Freeman from The Guardian. This type of abuse has seen an uptick in recent times among adolescent relationships according to “Teens Feel Pressured to Get Pregnant” from Michigan State University and “Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy” by Elizabeth Miller, Michele R. Decker Heather L. McCauley, Daniel J. Tancredi, Rebecca R. Levenson, Jeffrey Waldman, Phyllis Schoenwal, and Jay G. Silverman. The World Health Organisation has classified this adolescent group as those who fall between the ages of 10 and 24. Reproductive coercion can range from verbal, to emotional, to physical, and to sexual abuse according to the One Love Foundation. Seeking to control someone’s reproductive health puts that individual at mental, emotional, and physical risk, also according to the One Love Foundation.
In my experience, a lot of trans guys encounter increased gender dysphoria when it comes to pregnancy. Reproductive coercion can be expressed through the removal of a condom before intercourse, lying about birth control, sabotaging birth control methods, and threatening or pressuring a romantic and/or sexual partner into a pregnancy or abortion, according to the One Love Foundation. In a healthy relationship, both partners should be able to respectively communicate what they think is right for their reproductive health and each partner should respect the other’s wishes.
The guy I had been seeing started talking down to me out of nowhere around this time, which I told him that I did not appreciate, but he replied that he had no idea what I was talking about. This came across to me as gaslighting and it should have been another more noticeable red flag. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse used by narcissists in which an individual manipulates their victim psychologically into questioning their sanity, according to Becky’s Fund and Natasha Tracy from Healthy Place. Other tactics include excuse-making, blame, and projecting, and ignoring, according to “20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopath and Psychopaths Use To Silence You” by Shahida Arabi from Thought Catalog. However, I stood firm on my refusal to be spoken to with disrespect.
Then came his birthday, which happened to be the same day as my laparoscopic hysterectomy consultation. I had wanted to get a hysterectomy even if I was not in severe chronic pain. I offered to bring him a donut, but he did not accept my offer because he had other plans. It was his birthday; I was okay with it. He knew I was freaking out over my hysterectomy consultation due to my experience with the last surgery and uncertainty as to whether or not it would solve my chronic pain, but he acted as if he could not have cared less about my mental state. I felt that this was an instance of both narcissistic abuse and pregnancy coercion. He also brushed the surgery off like it was nothing. In my opinion, he thought he could change my mind and I would not move forward with the surgery.
Instead of meeting up with him after my consultation, I went to lunch with a friend. I made the mistake of checking my Snapchat and saw on his story that he lied to me and was not doing what he’d told me he was planning to. I confronted him about lying to me, and it turns out his plans were canceled and that he wanted to spend his birthday alone, but nevertheless he was not completely truthful to me. He called me selfish due to it being his birthday. This is another scenario of gaslighting, but in this situation, the type of gaslighting that he was using was to project his selfishness onto me and not being completely honest. Narcissists view their partners as objects and exploit them, according to Narcissistic Abuse Support.
Finally, he invited me to another event. I had gotten my mum to drive me there because I thought she would enjoy it too and I wanted her to meet him. Everything was going smoothly, he greeted me at the door and seemed to be in a good mood. The event started and I was sitting across the room from him, and he was sitting with another trans guy. At this point, my mum noticed them holding hands and kissing. My mum did not want to point them out to me, but I noticed them eventually. As it turned out, the other transguy had asked him to be his boyfriend the night before over text messaging and he said yes without even bothering to inform me that he was not interested in me anymore. In my personal opinion, he is only in a romantic relationship with a transguy to have biological children. It had also come across to me, near the end of our brief relationship, that he was way too busy to be in a romantic relationship with anyone, and that he was just in love with the thought of being in love. Nevertheless, I left the event in a blind rage.
During our final argument, I asked him if he was ever romantically interested in me, he replied yes, but I do not believe him to this day. I also asked him why he did not pursue me like I tried to pursue him and he replied with “I don’t pursue guys,” which is a lie as he sent the first message and initiated our first meetup. I asked him why he did not visit me during my surgery recovery, which came with the reply of “It was too much of a chore.” He took zero responsibility for his actions and said that we were not exclusive, so my feelings did not matter. He was gaslighting me further, making me feel crazy for believing that he would do anything for me. A good friend would still at least try to find the time to visit their friend after surgery. And his extensive lying added to the narcissistic abuse that he had already shown me. Narcissists form their own version of reality to make themselves believe that they are the best and most amazing person on the surface of the planet, according to “Does a Narcissist Believe His or Her Own Lies?” Erin Leonard, Ph.D. from Psychology Today. They lie to others, but also themselves. The final sentence that I ever said to him was a comment on his lack of emotional maturity. His apology was “I’m sorry if I treated you like a piece of crap,” which has been censored. His apology was further gaslighting due to his use of the word ‘if’ because in my personal opinion he wanted me to feel that I was wrong, it was all my fault, that being infertile made me incapable of being loved, I was not good enough for love, and he had not done anything wrong.
Everything turned out for the better after I dumped this particular individual, as the best thing to do with a narcissist is to leave them when they are emotionally abusing you, according to “10 Tips for Dealing with a Narcissistic Personality” from Healthline. I had my hysterectomy three months after I ended it, as my severe chronic pain had been caused by the uterus all along. After ending it, I have taken steps to live my life for myself.
Abuse in the queer community is a major topic that is being looked at more and more as time progresses. Not being accepted by family and/or community based on our sexuality and or gender identity, creates internalized queerphobia according to “Issue 12: Intimate Partner Violence in Rainbow Communities” from the Vaw Learning Network. This makes some of us abuse ourselves and or other people verbally, emotionally, physically, and/or sexually. Also, drug addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide are at a very high level in the queer community compared to the heterosexual/cisgender community, according to drugabuse.gov, the Trevor Project, and nationaleatingdisorders.org. Abuse in queer relationships usually comes out as threatening to out someone to their parents/friends/overall family, feeling the pressure of having to look like the perfect relationship due to being in a marginalised community, using another’s HIV status to manipulate the other partner according to The Trevor Project and “Relationship Abuse Among LGBTQIA* Communities” by the One Love Foundation.
The first step to my self-improvement included signing up for a cooking class on crepes since I do enjoy cooking. Second, I started my own business for a bit as an independent consultant. Third, I went from majoring in Political Sciences to being a double major in Political Sciences and Journalism. Fourth, I have been living more for myself, which includes eating as much sushi as physically and financially possible. I know that I would be perfectly capable of eating sushi if we were still hanging out, but now I eat sushi in spite of him because he does not like sushi and I despise him. I have been thinking about getting my first tattoo and having my noticeable diagnostic laparoscopy scars covered up, but I have grown used to how they look. I wrote this piece simply as a type of therapy session for myself, but please take the lesson never to tolerate a cisman being adamant about wanting biological children if you are an individual with a uterus or who used to have a uterus. I know I can find a much better man who will treat me the correct way and be appreciative towards what I can bring to the table rather than be dissatisfied with what I cannot bring to the table. He probably says and thinks I am crazy, but he is not wrong there.