Here’s A First: A Celebrity Has An Out And Proud Relationship With A Transwoman
The couple have shared their love story publicly, across social media and this marks the first time a celebrity has acknowledged their romance with a Transgender person.
If you’ve seen the award winning series “Schitt’s Creek” starring comedic legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, then you know actress Emily Hampshire. Hampshire plays the role of Stevie on the Canadian sitcom which became a cross-over hit in the United States since the first season aired in 2015. Hampshire also pulled double duty on her acting tasks, taking up the role of Jennifer Goines in the Sy-Fy futuristic drama 12 Monkeys which has aired simultaneously to Schitt’s Creek.
Hampshire has been posting pictures to her social media with her new girlfriend- Teddy Geiger, a woman who is an accomplished figure in her own right having written hits for bands like One Direction and Shawn Mendes, announced her transition last October and withdrew from the prying of public eyes before re-emerging in May.
This isn’t the way it usually happens for Transwomen in relationships with celebrities. In fact, most celebrities, especially men, who engage in relationships with trans-identifying folks keep it very quiet, less for privacy reasons and more out of shame and embarrassment. Those who have been discovered to have had intimate relationships with trans people typically end up uniformly denying it or claiming they were tricked. Some even simply pretend it never happened despite evidence to the contrary.
The reality is, young trans people who are growing up as productive members of society have had it demonstrated over and over that they remain outside the boundaries of achieving personal happiness and fulfilling relationships due to their gender. They feel relegated to their potential being capped at someone else’s dirty secret or sexual experiment. The trans community doesn’t have many well known figures who portray the possibilities of finding love when compared to our cisgender counterparts.
We all appreciate the celebrity power-couples who are thriving and who, by their very existence, change the shape of what we understand and accept as a “Normal.” Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are a gay couple we’ve watched fall in love, get married and have a beautiful family- just ten years ago, this was virtually unheard of. We also have Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor or Ellen Degenerous and Portia Derossi; All strong, successful women who haven’t felt it necessary to hide their same-sex relationships in order to achieve great things in the entertainment industry. Just a few examples of many LGB figures that have chosen to live their lives unapologetically, thereby providing visibility and consequentially normalizing the diversity that is encompassed in the word “Love.”
Us trans folks haven’t had those examples to call on. Why is this important? Since the dawning of celebrity voyeurism, we’ve been delivered by means of red carpet flashbulbs the love stories of Liz and Dick, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers. Every young girl who swoons over Justin Bieber and his latest girlfriend and holds them on a pedestal with the hashtag #Relationshipgoals acknowledges that relationships are a part of our development. A natural evolution. A pursuit we, as social beings, all share to some degree. The gossip rags love to talk about which A-Lister Jennifer Lawrence or Taylor swift is dating today, emphasizing that these women have permission and acceptance in greater society as they actively integrate with the males of our species.
Everyone wants a love story; An epic fairytale. Cis privilege is having that demonstrated every single day, in their favorite songs, television shows, gossip magazines, social media, movies and books. Thankfully, Cis-Love has been broadened to include and celebrate gay and lesbian couples…
… Trans love? Not so much. We’re still the fodder for tabloid media sensationalism and dehumanizing jokes. We’re still fighting be acknowledged as normal, bathroom using human beings against a tide of conservatives who instead create the narrative that we’re a threat. We, as transgender people, are doing our best to thrive while under psychological, emotional and even physical assault every single day. It’s possible that cis people who might otherwise consider us as potential romantic partners, discard us due to the baggage they believe accompanies us. Maybe they think our gender equates the sum of our parts and determining factor of every choice we make. Shows like Transparent did us no favors, posturing an older transwoman as a catalyst of damage for her entire family and ultimately becoming sexually confused. That’s a huge weight to bear the weight of, if it actually represented the transgender experience, but it’s inaccurate. Sexuality and gender are like your fingers and toes. They each have a vital purpose, but that purpose is wholly independent and unrelated to the other. Neither has influence on what the other does.
Perhaps they believe that, by the matter of mere association, they’ll have to suddenly become an advocate, an activist or community spokesperson. Possibly they’re concerned that a relationship with a trans person will usurp every noteworthy achievement ever made, substituted instead by salacious news headlines and invasive lines of questioning focusing solely on that… and that inevitably may become the sum of their own parts.
Maybe they’re afraid that public perception will be forever altered, or they’ll be the punchline to a barrage of jokes. Could it be that they, too, have seen others in situations where they must defend, justify or deny their relationships with trans folks instead of just being happy.
Because that’s what we need to see.
Not cis people lying about having been in relationships with us, or suddenly ignoring the fact we ever existed to preserve their professional status. A relationship with a trans person, whether it be with an NBA sports star or a Olympic gold medalist or a Comedy legend, has been only portrayed to the public as humiliating and shame-worthy.
Up until now, in the realm of public consciousness, that’s how we’ve been portrayed. That’s how our identities have been controlled and how we’ve been framed in the context of intimacy.
This is why- whether Emily Hampshire and Teddy Geiger realize it or not- their visibility is so momentous and vital to pursuing a cultural shift. They don’t sensationalize their romance. They don’t punctuate their presence with politicized missives or leverage their coupling as a social justice statement. They just are as they are. Like every other couple in love, there is no great statement to be made.
That, by itself, makes the greatest statement of all.