Dear Miss Andi... for ~February~ ~March~ ~April?!~ MAY?!!? 2020
So, I'm still figuring out when and how often to publish this thing, and at the moment I don't get enough questions to publish weekly, and I want to be able to spend time researching any question I get sufficiently. Thus I'm going to switch to publishing at midnight GMT on the third Sunday of each month. We'll see how it goes! 💚
Additionally, sorry this one is so late! It's taken awhile to get two questions for it!
I was told by a potential sexual partner that she has genital herpes (HSV-2) and because I get cold sores (HSV-1) I have immunity. I may be wrong but I don’t think she's right, and I don’t know how to approach the subject without offending her. Any help?
Before we get any further —
OBLIGATORY I AM NOT A DOCTOR NOTICE DO NOT TAKE ANY MEDICAL STATEMENT I MAKE WITH ANY DEGREE OF SERIOUSNESS. Although I take care to research content thoroughly, and when things fall outside of my expertise I ask for help, you probably should confirm anything I post with your GP. Caveat emptor et cetera.
Okay, first off — you indeed are correct, HSV-1 doesn't impart immunity to HSV-2, at least in the reading I've done, and according to a doctor friend I have. From this NYT article from 2010 (yowza), the immunity imparted by HSV-1 is partial at best; 40% of individuals with HSV-1 also have HSV-2. Possibly the only reason there's a belief that HSV-1 imparts immunity is because the initial outbreak of symptoms is milder in those with HSV-1. Do check out that article if you need something to point at, it's pretty explicit about HSV-1 not immunising you to HSV-2.
So, a few things to consider:
You're not immune, nor is she. You should probably exercise a degree of caution for both your sakes.
Medically, this situation is referred to as being a “discordant couple.” Which sounds absolutely lovely, I know. 🙄 But effectively, if either of you is having a flare-up, you should limit physical interaction. Starting chronic suppressive therapy reduces the chances of it spreading, especially during the stage just before it becomes visible.
So, in terms of how you approach the subject — you approach it like an adult, sit her down and have a conversation about it and what you think is the most appropriate course of action. If it's something that concerns you, and involves both of your sexual health moving forward in your relationship, it should be something you feel comfortable talking to each other about (even if it takes awhile to get there).
Again though, I'm not an expert, talk to your doctor, she'll be able to advise you better than I can here. My feeling is it's likely with you both taking a course of chronic suppressive therapy you'll be able to have a pretty regular sex life, but again do talk to your doctors. 💚
By the way, if anyone reading has access to medical databases and wants to be my research ~bitch~ assistant, I'm so bad at questions like this, please DM me
dearest andi, since coming out as trans (and, more significantly, presenting fem in public) no fewer than three of my male friends have become very awkward around me and generally doing a terrible job at hiding how hot they think i am (no my guys, it doesnt make you gay). like it's super obvious and other friends have commented on it too. how do you deal with this without it getting awkward? theyre lovely friends but i just aint interested. is this just life now, am i a magnet for awkward nerd boys? yours, baby tran
Ah, the male gaze... Isn't it great, you can know somebody for ages and then start looking hot and suddenly you're a piece of meat. Brilliant.
I'm not particularly suited to answer this question given I've not personally run into this, but one of my partners did at a point her in transition. Her advice was not encouraging: “Nope, game over, find new friends.”
What, like, really?
“Yep. For better or worse, the character of the friendship you had with these folks has changed; you're moving on with your life, and the degree of shared history you have with them might be one of the things that holds you back from growing to be the person you ultimately want to. And, my god, will the annoying questions never, ever stop...”
These aren't direct quotes by the way, I'm paraphrasing.
While she has a point, I don't know though; that's kinda the “scorched earth” approach to friendships, which I'm not sure I can get behind. And sometimes “making new friends” is a really difficult thing to do, particularly if you have a disability, or live in a small town, or live somewhere where it's dangerous to be trans in public. Hell, I find it difficult to do in London, the impersonal nature of cities makes it difficult to make connections with people. Granted, there's always Grindr/Tinder/OKCupid/FetLife/whatever...
Okay, your two questions, in order:
How do you deal with it? Gosh, are you wanting me to write a book here? There's no easy answer! That said, I guess start with how women everywhere generally deal with leering men: either ignore it, or if you see them staring or they objectify you in some way, call their asses out on it. It'll either go one of two ways — they'll flip out and deny the whole thing, or it gives you an opening to mention how you're really not into “friends”. So, no, not without it getting awkward, but honestly just lean into that awkwardness. That awkwardness is your friend. Safety lies in awks!
Is this just life now? Well, kind of? The male gaze is awful and annoying and perpetuates everything. Indeed, (goes off on 64-page spiel about heteronormativity and toxic masculinity) ...meaning that as a femme-presenting person, the probability you will have annoying interactions with men approaches 1. But also, you will meet new people and over time will settle into whatever social scene you're most comfortable with.
Hope that helps, I guess? 😅
Oof that took way too long. Sorry everyone...