I tend to fall into two extremes everywhere and in everything: any of my traits can be paired up with the complete opposite trait. For example, I can be emotional and phlegmatic, sensitive and thick-skinned, brave and scared, balanced and explosive, fantasizing and pragmatic, pedant and spontaneous, shy and bold, obedient and dominant… However, in all of these pairs, there are some that characterize me more and reveal themselves more often: sensitive (I cry to TV shows all the time), pedant (sometimes even pathologically), and persistent (giving up on something is something I am physically not capable of doing). As a bonus I would add that I’m extroverted and I constantly joke and speak a lot.
The most impressive memory
I’m a 90ies kid and I don’t think that anyone from my generation had an easy or a boring childhood. For me it’s a permanent memory – to say the least, we witnessed the change of an epoch. However, along these shared memories, all of us have gone through something that is something very private and personal to us.
Books and music – without these, I couldn’t even imagine my childhood. I used to read all the time, everything that I could get my hands on, and I fell in love with music at a young age too. “Master and Margarita” had the most impact on me out of the books. I know I sound basic because it’s a very famous book, but I read it at quite a young age and it changed me as a person. The first real shock for me in music was encountering a Swedish pop-group – Army of lovers. Of course I liked the songs, but watching their videos was a very special pleasure to me – shamelessly bold, full of eroticism and homoeroticism, these videos became the first video and audio symbol of freedom of love for me.
But still, the most impressive memory that had a fundamental impact on me and changed the course of my whole life is connected to my younger childhood. It’s my first sexual experience that I had with a peer boy. There was no sexual act as such, because we were very young, just 7-8 years old. This was a play of a sexual nature, the initiator and leader was him. There was no pressuring at all. He offered me to play the role of a wife and I did, agreeing that we would swap the roles later. Despite that, the next time I was still offered the role, which I formally protested but still agreed to. I instinctively felt that I was more comfortable with the role of the wife. After this we didn’t even talk about it: we kind of accepted that I would always be the wife. I liked it, I adjusted to the role and didn’t feel any shame or discomfort with it. Our “husband-wife” play was very childish at first, but in the last episode, which I remember so vividly, it became of very intimate nature and ended in a very childish but accurate imitation of a sexual act. This was the first time when I fully realized my gender role and understood that it didn’t match my biological sex. Some might say that it’s impossible to know at such a young age, but I still remember all of my thoughts and feelings so vividly and I can assure you, it is quite possible.
Our relationship was pure and pretty, without any excessiveness and viciousness. I still remember those days with great love and warmth. Those memories only arise pleasant emotions in me, I don’t have any regret or feeling that I was doing something wrong. During that last play that we had everything went back to its place – this boy treated me with so sensitively and with so much love, that the wall that had already had cracks in it finally broke down and for the first time in my life, I felt like a little girl. I don’t know how to describe it, so I’ll just say that it was a very euphoric experience. After that I have been chasing those emotions, trying to recreate them with my fantasies and playing with my own body in intimate moments. But I couldn’t fully achieve that even decades later until many years passed and in a foreign country I, for the first time, slept with a true man.
Journey in the magical Genderland
The process of identifying myself was quite a long process and I’m still not sure that it’s over. At this stage I can say that I identify as bigender, which means that I feel comfortable both in the roles of a man and a woman.
Gender studies is not a precise science, and it is also quite new and it’s only natural that there is no universal consensus concerning the terminology and systematization. It might even be impossible to reach a consensus – sorting out the gender identities isn’t an easy job, and I think that there will always be many things that are subjective and arguable.
Bigendered people have two gender identities, either at once or interchangeably. In my case those identities are masculine and feminine, but for others it can be any other combination, including non-binary gender identities. The identity of a bigender person might change through time, be dependent on the environment, or react to specific triggers. This is the type of gender identity that I personally refer to as gender fluid. Bigender people, generally, are always in control and they decide when to switch one role to another, while in case of gender fluid individuals, this process can be spontaneous. Not every bigender person expresses their genders in the same way. For me, for example, this change is always accompanied with the visual changes, which in practice means that I’m more comfortable being in a woman’s role when I look like a woman (clothes, make-up, removing body hair, etc.) and vice versa, when being in a role of a male – I prefer to look masculine. For others the physical appearance might not matter at all and just a mental switch might be enough. Some bigenders prefer androgynous appearances, joining their identities and getting rid of the borders between them through their behaviors and appearances.
I would also like to mention dysphoria, since it’s important when talking about bigender identity. For example, if for a transgender person feminization isn’t a problem because their final goal is to permanently transition into a female’s role, for a bigender person it might be a problem, because they need to have a body with visual characteristics of both genders at once, which is incredibly hard to achieve. Because of this a bigender individual might experience dysphoria – the dislike of one’s own appearance, and a feeling that at a given moment they do not visually correspond to the chosen gender role. I also have mild dysphoria because of my “Caucasian” nose, which I really like in a male’s role, but often gets in the way when I transition into a woman. The visual aspect might be so important for some individuals that they even have hormone therapy, even though transitioning is not their main goal. Even I have thought about that, however, at my age there are some health risks so I’ve chosen to refrain from it for now.
A very important aspect of bigenderism that many find it hard to understand is sexuality – being bigender doesn’t automatically make someone bisexual. A person with such identity might have any kind of sexual orientation, or in some cases, have 2 sexualities – depending on their gender identity. I, personally, in a role of a men, am straight – interested only in woman and can’t even think about being with other man. I can only have sexual intercourse with a man when I’m in a role of a woman, when I’ve both mentally and visually transformed.
Maybe at some point the female part of me will become dominant in the future. Or maybe the opposite. Nothing is set in stone and my journey in Genderlend goes on.
Emigrant of Love
It’s been over 10 years since I left Georgia. This was related to self-expression. Here, in Lithuania, they call me meilės emigrantas (Emigrant of love). I have a partner here and they are the main reason I left Georgia. The relationship started with an online friendship. When I first met them, my identity was so far hidden that I didn’t even think about talking to them about it. Despite this, we became close very soon and told each other everything. I believed that my feminine nature was hidden away forever and once our relationship became romantic, those childhood feelings that I thought I had blocked away forever, suddenly came back.
When I lived in Georgia, putting on a dress and going outside is something I only dreamed and fantasized of. I never managed to overcome my fears and I was always surprised how transgender women and girls leaving in Georgia did it – I have great respect for them and I bow to their bravery and confidence. When I decided to leave Georgia I was really out of touch with my feminine side. I wouldn’t even call it a closet, it was somewhere in a dark basement, under the floor, and I had swallowed the keys to the basement door. Only very rarely, alone with myself, I allowed myself to fantasize about the feelings from my childhood.
The architect of my happiness.
The first years of marriage were peaceful. Suddenly, something that I was least expecting happened: the womanhood that had been asleep inside me for decades woke up. Turned out that for all these years I was falsely persuading myself that my bigenderism was just a child’s game and nothing else. The role of the trigger was played by a funny little thing: it was just some orthopedic slippers! I didn’t know what to do. I had always been honest with my wife, but at that moment I definitely wasn’t ready to tell her about this. So I started dressing up in secret (luckily most of my wife’s clothes fit me) and all my youthful sexual fantasies came rushing back.
A few years passed like this. At some moment I realized that I was doing it all in secret from my wife and that made me come to my senses. I was sure that she would understand it, but telling such a thing to a lover, after so many years of living together, still wasn’t easy. But I didn’t have any other choice so one night, about three years ago, I told her everything, starting with my childhood “husband-wife” game and ending with the newly awakened femininity. She took everything just the way I expected her to, she’s an incredible person and I’m very lucky that we found each other. She offered her full support, without any time apart or conditions. Since that night, basically on the next day she was already helping me put a bra on and wear make-up. That’s how Luna was born, my female alter-ego, whom you’re speaking with today.
From the very beginning we agreed that for some time it would be enough for me to dress up as a woman and have sex toys, but sooner or later I would want to meet a man and have sex, because otherwise I would never feel fulfilled. She advised me not to rush and just get used to being in a woman’s role. Two years went by like that. Monday to Friday I lead a normal life, I worked and lived as a man. And on weekends, I would transform into a woman. At first it only happened at home, and then I started going outside like that too, together with my wife, mostly to shops and supermarkets, sometimes just taking a walk.
It’s probably easy to imagine what it felt like for me to put on a dress and go outside after decades of dreaming about it. All if this was only possible thanks to the love and support of my wife. In the beginning of the last year I got the green light and finally downloaded every dating up, starting from Grinder ending with Tinder. This happened last year, in February. By the end of March, it was my first time with a man, which persuaded me that my femininity wasn’t just some obsessive fantasy. Physical intimacy with a man turned out to be quite natural and pleasant for me, just like for any other heterosexual woman.
But I don’t want anyone to think that making decisions was easy and nice for my wife. For her, the hardest process was meeting with men. It is hard for anyone to let their partner be with someone else. She also had her own internal struggles, but, luckily for me, the belief that it was the right way for me to achieve spiritual piece and internal harmony took over.
At this point in my life I can say confidently that I am happy because my sexuality is not hidden anymore, both of its components are balanced and in harmony. Now I’m living my full life not only as a man, but as a woman too. Of course, I still have a long way to go. Sometimes I still have to be discrete about my feminine persona and be careful, but three years ago I couldn’t even have imagined that I would go outside dressed as a woman, and meeting with men was something that even exceeded my realm of fantasies!
The architect of all of my happiness is my wife, and the thing that I needed to do is to be brave enough to share my hidden side, the existence of which no one knew about. I only regret that I didn’t do this sooner.
The story of my “surname” is quite funny. A male friend of mine, who’s Georgian, and I met them in Vilnius, asked me to help them with the disposal of some construction waste. This needed hiring of a construction minibus, which he couldn’t do himself because he didn’t have a driving license. As you’ve probably already guessed, this person was my intimate partner and only knew me as Luna, so, naturally, I would have to help with the task dressed as Luna. This was a kind of a challenge for me, because a construction truck, one that is a manual, was something I’d never driven before. It was a bit difficult at first but I got used to it soon. It was a weird and fun road trip, we joked around a lot on our way. The task was carried out successfully.
That day, because of my friskiness and successful driving, my partner came up with a nickname for me – Abezara. There’s a Georgian comedy, in which Leila Abashidze plays a funky and frisky driver. I really liked the nickname so I made it my thing. When I was creating a Facebook account for Luna, I needed to come up with a last name and that’s when I remembered my nickname. I chose a Russian ending (Ova) for 2 reasons: Firstly, the female ending emphasizes the femininity; Secondly, “Abezarova” is an ethnically-incongruent last name – it’s not Russian, nor Georgian, kinda sounds like Armenian or just North-Caucasian. I’m not hiding my Georgian descent, but I like it when it’s hard for someone to guess my ethnicity, it’s kind of like a small game to me.
The world moves forward and time is on our side
I might not be involved in activism, but I consider myself as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and the attitudes toward our community still affect me. I’m not distanced from those challenges that sexual minorities have to face in the modern reality. Here, in Vilnius, there is one gathering place, where the queer community members and activists meet up and sometimes I attend those gatherings too.
I think that transgender people need extra attention and support in the community. In that sense, the situation is not only bad in Georgia, but even in comparatively tolerant countries, such as Lithuania. Transgender people are always under twice as much pressure. On the one hand, there’s the intolerant attitudes that all of the LGBTQ+ community experiences to a point, and on the other hand, an extreme financial strain, stemming from the costs linked with hormonal therapy and transitioning. The government does absolutely nothing in order to help this people, on the contrary, they create additional obstacles.
If Georgia is on the European path not only on paper, but also in action, then our country must definitely understand its role in dealing with sexual minorities and actually start thinking about solving their problems, which, in my opinion, manifests in the cooperation with LGBTQ+ community and their rights organizations. Unfortunately, what I see today is the complete opposite of this situation. I do not want to get too involved in politics, but I can’t not mention that our current government not only does not cooperate with the LGBTQ+ community, but sees it as a problem, an irritating inconvenience that often escapes them and prevents them from doing “more important things.” We see a clear proof of this during any activity organized by the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, we often hear shameful and dangerous rhetoric from the country’s leaders, which directly encourages the vicious and violent parties. This is simply unacceptable.
What should we, the queer people do, in order for the situation to get better? We simply have to not give up, continue to fight for our rights with stubbornness, however much we can. Activists – in their own organizations, and the community members – in private conversations, changing people’s minds on social media, raising various issues and sharing about important topics.
The world moves forward and time is on our side, we only need to stay patient and strong. I don’t want it to sound like a toast, but I sincerely believe that love will surely win!
The interview was prepared with the support of the Women’s Fund in Georgia (WFG)
Prepared by Nino Urushadze