This February The Huffington Post UK is running Making Modern Love, a fortnight-long focus on what love means to Britons in the 21st Century. Built on the three themes of finding love, building love and losing love, HuffPost will feature human stories that explore exactly what it is to be in love in modern times
When I came out as trans, I noticed that, like any life-changing event, some people faded out and others faded in. Ultimately, you find out who your friends are. Unfortunately, my romantic relationship didn't last beyond the first few years of my medical transition.
I've been lucky in love, never lengthy, ranging from six weeks to three years, with an average of one year, four changeable seasons. None of my previous partners encouraged my transition. And so I was stuck, treading water. I was a coward. Being loved as I was, so fearful to make the drastic changes in my life for my own happiness. This had an effect on all my relationships. I just wasn't present.
My friend Leng Montgomery has had similar experiences to myself. Leng is recently single, after a long-term relationship ended.
"I spent most my life living as a lesbian and was proud of that. Because I do live as a man it doesn't mean that I am straight, but a binary view of sexuality can feel very inhibiting and not very inclusive."
Leng adds, "It's not easy to meet someone who feels the same way about you or will love you in an equal way. If love enters your life and you have strong feelings for someone then cherish it and not feel under pressure to confirm to what other people may or may not be comfortable with as it's about what we want out of life as individuals ultimately."
Regardless of who we love, there needs to be more available for the partners (and other family) of those transitioning. First few years of transition is a time of physical and mental changes. It's safe to say when you are doing something so huge, when you transition, the whole world transitions around you too.
I had so much going on for the first few years of my medical transition. I began taking part in a mainstream documentary, that my partner (because she's shy and had just broken up with someone else) wasn't able to take part in. We had hurdles to cross.
Just after my top surgery was round the same time we moved house and had some major work going on.
I was so busy dealing with second puberty, set-backs, learning processes and anxieties, I didn't have enough energy to focus on my partner.
Sharon says: "A lot of partners try to be the strong one in that situation and it can affect the couple further down the line. The partner wants to provide emotional support when there's a lot of changes and concerns. By not wanting to show any weakness or uncertainty you're not talking about how you feel and lead to feeling isolated and unsupported."
I'm still friends with my ex. We dated for just under three years. The other day my ex accidentally left a book around my house and I opened it to a lengthy pencil-scrawled diary entry from around the time we broke up. Yikes. I wish I hadn't read it, but it was impossible not to. The crux of the diary entry was her breaking up because I didn't fully love myself. I agree, it's impossible to fully commit to a relationship with someone if you don't love the skin you're in.
Prior to her, not one partner previous to my medical transition was in favour of me changing my body in any way. They couldn't adapt to how it would redefine their own labels and they enjoyed a part of me which would often bring up disphoria, a disconnection and repulsion of my own body. Eventually, I relinquished my heart to take the leap in loving myself.
(The first time my ex has ever spoken on camera about us)
I've been single, for around three years now, the longest time I've ever been without a partner. The world has changed significantly in that time. To quote the female journalist in 'Her Story' (my new favourite trans fiction series), "It's less that the world has changed for trans people, and simply that we are seeing them as people." The world has shifted to be more accommodating, tolerating, and even celebrating of trans issues. For the first time, I feel 'at one' with myself, in my own skin. I'm over any sort of turbulence from 2nd puberty. I make films and screen-print. I have a puppy. Life is sweet.
Best things about not being in a relationship is there's less energy exhumed. I have the freedom to print until late at night, or learn the dance routine to a Justin Bieber track at 2am and most of all, not get distracted with someone else's drama or gorgeousness when there's films, art and music to create. Because I'm finally starting to see what all the fuss is about; for the first time in my life, I'm in love with living.