about the book

Gender visibility is growing in today’s culture. The word transgender is featured in media stories on a daily basis, creating more interest and focus on those who do not define themselves within the binary gender system. With this increased awareness, we rarely hear the stories of the family members and partners who love and support transgender people through their changing identities. What does it really mean for a partner if the person they love changes their sex?

With a refreshing voice of raw honesty and vulnerability, Ali Sands journaled her search for identity as her partner transitioned from female to male. Beginning with the awareness of her partner being transgender, through hormone therapy and multiple surgeries, Sands seeks to excavate her own personal identity and learns that identity is an autonomous part in all of us. Revealing her thoughts to readers, Sands easily establishes an inclusive connection, lending insight to:

  • gender identity

  • self-identity

  • transitioning from female to male

  • resilience in relationships

“I Know Who You Are, But What Am I?” is a courageous and humor filled memoir, revealing that love appears in whatever form it chooses.  

 
backofbook-with-styles.jpg

illuminating identity

A Synopsis

“I believe that love appears in whatever form it chooses”

-Ali Sands

With a refreshing voice of raw honesty and vulnerability, Ali Sands journaled her search for identity in, I Know Who You Are, But What Am I?, as her partner transitioned from female to male. Beginning with the awareness of her partner being transgender, through hormone therapy and multiple surgeries, Sands seeks to excavate her own personal identity and learns that identity is an autonomous part in each of us. Revealing her deepest thought to readers, Sands easily establishes an inclusive connection.


 

Book Excerpt

June 8, 2006

I ran into an old friend this afternoon. She asked how this whole “situation” is going for me. I assumed correctly that she was speaking of Rhys’ transition and my relationship with him. Specifically, she wanted to know, “Were you a heterosexual, then a homosexual, and now a heterosexual again?” 

Questions about my sexual preference are so difficult for me to answer. Sometimes I don’t answer, but when I do I find myself inventing a new response for each and every one. I feel I have to first consider the source and determine my reply accordingly. Is this person educated? Religious? An ally of human rights? Do they believe in equality? Are they judgmental? Homophobic? If they’re homophobic or judgmental, I choose not to go there.

Quickly, I put together a reply that requires no personal labels, and at the same time respects and protects my relationship with Rhys. I responded by telling my friend that I no longer use sexual stereotypes to describe myself. Personally, I don’t feel that I was ever “exclusively heterosexual,” even though physically I lived in a monogamous relationship with a non-­trans male for over twenty years. “Homosexual” would also be a stretch for me. By literal terms, that would put me as a woman who is exclusively attracted to other women. Not a fit either.

Now having loved a female­-bodied person and then loving that person through the transition to male, I guess that I would self­-identify as “queer.” Other words for “queer” are found in the thesaurus. They include: bizarre, unusual, peculiar, weird, freakish, unnatural, puzzling, perplexing, eerie, spooky and on and on. Choose a word, any word, but don’t expect that because it fits your definition of my sexual identity, it will do the same for me. We are multidimensional beings, linguistically indefinable in our magnitude. The human language isn’t adequate to describe the intangible, and my sexuality is just that: INTANGIBLE. But I choose to keep the majority of this vulnerable information to myself and reply to questions of a sexual nature as vaguely as possible.

Through the experience of being repeatedly quizzed about my sexual identity, I now clarify my response: I do not qualify my sexual identity based on who I am partnered with. What is me is me, and being with Rhys doesn’t change that fact. I do not believe that the majority of people have been educated or gifted with the knowledge of gender fluidity. Most have not begun to venture to that place within themselves to explore the basis of their sexual attractions and desires. Therefore, many have may fail to realize that perhaps their attractions and desires can change over time. Our culture, being steeped in religious belief and tradition, does not allow a great amount of variance from the heterosexual ­binary. Anyone bold enough to search within themselves who discovers that they don’t fit within traditional norms is immediately set apart. I am from suburban/conservative America where this kind of individuality can get you ostracized from your family and community. In my own experience I had to choose between my true self or keeping my family of origin. At this point, I refuse to diminish myself as anything other than what comes from within me.