Tuesday, March 10, 2015
As the spouse/partner, we are in an interesting position. Most of us who have chosen to stay are not embarrassed by the fact that our significant other is a woman. Yet, we find ourselves justifying to strangers why we are married to another woman when we are not gay or that the father of our children is female.
No, it doesn't matter in the big picture that two women are married. If you have chosen to remain in this community, you can't possibly be homophobic. Trust me when I say that I know with absolute certainty where I stand on the rainbow, and where other people stand is of no concern to me. However, as the heterosexual spouse of a woman and the mother of children whose father is female... frankly... it's weird. Even after six years of this situation, I still have moments of strangeness when I feel that have to explain.
Ah, I can hear the chorus: "You don't HAVE to explain anything to anyone. It's not their business!"
That's not entirely true, especially when you're talking about introducing adults who are involved in some way with your kids.
We don't have to explain. It's easy to say, "Hi, I'm Marni, and this is my spouse Natasha." Enough said. Another parent will hear, "Hi, we're a married gay couple." Fine. But then the parent's child is playing with your child and your kid says, "Let's go see if Daddy will play video games with us."
"Daddy" doesn't seem to be around, yet your kid asks the other woman in the house to play video games. Your child's friend is going to have NO problem saying aloud, "That's not your daddy!" Then, when the friend goes home, he/she says to his/her parent, "E has a girl for a daddy," and then things go wonky.
In the case of my kids, they call Natasha "Sunny." They chose that name to mean "daddy," especially in public. Early on when Natasha was presenting as female in public, I might say at a restaurant, "Go sit next to Daddy," in front of the waiter. That would garner strange looks. Again, it's not that I cared, but the kids noticed and it sure embarrassed Natasha. For the trans person, it's like putting up a big neon sign that says, "TRANSSEXUAL RIGHT HERE!!" So, we asked the kids to come up with a new name that meant "daddy" to them, and they chose "Sunny."
Getting back to the introductions, I found it necessary to explain to teachers that if the kids talked about their Sunny, it was Natasha and if they talked about their daddy, it was Natasha, too. Sunny and Daddy were interchangeable. It was absolutely necessary because when we didn't explain at first, I'd be asked about it at the first parent-teacher meetings. Inevitably, one of the kids would talk about Sunny or Daddy to the other kids and a classmate would point out the obvious and then things would... go wonky. All I had to do was point it out to the teacher in the beginning of the year and all would be well. It was the same for the parents of our kids' friends. Sometimes, "daddy" would slip out. "Daddy's coming to see our play tonight," and poof... there's a woman walking in. Hey, wait a minute!
The spouse who asked the question wanted to know if she should contact the friend's parent before meeting her so that she would be prepared. My advice was not to do that. Other spouses agreed that even if she isn't embarrassed, to pre-warn someone is to come across as being embarrassed. It gives the other party a chance to back out before the confrontation. It's not presenting unexpected information in the moment, when it's appropriate and when you can see for yourself the reaction of the other party. If you're not embarrassed, don't act like you are. Like I said to the spouse, would you want your kid to be playing with the kid of someone who didn't accept that you were married to a transsexual? Would you want to be friends with someone like that?
There are a lot of factors that go into when/if it is time to let other parties know that your spouse is trans, but the bottom line is that at some point, people in your life will find out. The question is: how do you want them to find out? No, it really isn't other people's business whom you're married to, but when it comes to parenthood, biological relationships can be important information to know. Besides, it's really not about whose business it is or isn't. It's about the fact that the vast majority has never met a trans person. While there shouldn't be any "shock value" to it, there is, even if they're okay with it. I think it is better to just get it out of the way and let people react. Again, with the kids, I'd rather the parent choose to accept or not before my kid gets attached to the other kid.
Just my opinion. Yours is welcome.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
I'm in something of an observation mode right now because much of my life is still in limbo but is also moving forward at an incredibly swift pace. They say that time seems to move more quickly the longer we are alive because a year to a child takes up a much larger segment of life than it does when we're adults. You know, if you look at a pie and a year represents a slice, a year is 1/5 of the pie to a 5 year old but 1/40 of the pie to a 40 year old. I'm not talking about that, though. My loyal readers know that we moved back to Los Angeles a year ago. While progress in the writing career department is like molasses, lots of things are happening.
I need to make an observation that will hopefully become relevant before I complete this post. As I sit here in my dining room, the middle floor of a split-level townhouse that we shouldn't be able to afford, I listen to my children playing some kind of Mario video game with at least two other people. In my house is my spouse, a transsexual woman, president of a small yet ambitious theatre in what we hope to soon be known as the Valley Village Arts District, and high school thratre and film teacher; a transsexual woman artist who is performing her autobiographical one-woman show about... being trans; a 19 year-old African American Italian Latino former student of Natasha's who has come out here to contemplate his future in film and television and theatre; my two kids, both highly gifted - my nearly 8 year-old daughter is in a death phase and my son is getting on with life after completely losing vision in his left eye on January 3rd; and a 20 year-old amazingly talented artist and recently admitted lesbian or possible transsexual. Plus there are the two dogs and five cats and me. We are barely scraping by, since I'm still looking for employment and hanging on for dear life to my last job that offers no stability.
It's a full house. No one can possibly accuse me of being normal or having a normal life.
Natasha and I had a conversation the other evening about relationships. Neither of us have our sights on anyone, mainly because we're both not feeling at our best, but I got her to agree that if she did meet another soul mate, she would be honest in her desire to pursue it instead of shoving the potentiality of it aside because we are married. She agreed to do so if I agreed to do so, which I did. In a way, this brief talk marked another phase in our relationship that made me a little bit happier (always a good thing). Like Tasha, I don't realistically believe that I will find another soul mate who would also want to be with me. I'm not ordinary, even without the extraneous factors listed above. I think it's just nice to know that should some kind of cosmic miracle occur, we are both at a place where we would actually be glad for the other person. Dare I say, we might actually be... happy... for the other. We only want the best for each other. We love each other so very much. But our marriage, as I've said before, is incomplete for both of us. Since neither of us are in favor of an open marriage, there would be one clear choice should either of us find that other soul mate who fits the mold.
Ah, I think I figured out how that paragraph up there fits into this post. It's about me. I've said to friends that I don't see myself finding another male soul mate who is ready or able to be with me in an intimate relationship. My friends tell me I'm being silly and that I'm amazing and pretty and lots of complimentary things and that I should stop thinking those things. But I know what I look like. I know what kind of person I am. I feel that I am a very realistic, sensible person. So, when I say things about myself, I'm not looking down at me. I think that I need to be realistic about what's possibly out there. It's why I have David Tennant (Doctor Who) as my standard. A, he's married. B, he's... David Tennant. It's not realistic to consider him as anyone else other than an amazing actor whom I find attractive and potentially someone I will work with as a writer some day (hint hint Universe!!). He's a safe standard to have. Heck, he could be totally jerky, although that's not what I read about him. Nevertheless, as I feel the way I do about my prospects, no harm.
I know that I'm a good person. I'm smart and loyal and protective. I'm also strong with a strong will and I don't hide my feelings. Psychically speaking, I tend to radiate my feelings, which can be either good or bad. I've been known to intimidate people just by being in the room for the same reason that my best friend says that if she had to go into a dark alley, I'm the only person she knows who would make her feel safe. Sure, I deserve to have a good man in my life. I just don't see it happening. There's too much about me that isn't easy or simple or normal. I'm not holding my breath. Instead, I'm enjoying my life with Natasha and our kids and our menagerie of peeps going in and out of the house.
I do still wish that I didn't think about the mythical "someone else" out there. I wish my marriage were still what I need. But it isn't, and I'm okay with that. Natasha has me always to support her and I will always have her. The details might change, but some things, in spite of all of the immensely dramatic changes, remain the same. And that's pretty darned incredible.
Until next time...
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Here's the information: Something Something, New Vagina
Monday, September 15, 2014
I was sent an email today from a company in Spain that makes underwear for people in transition. I took a look (you have to translate the page to English using Google) and I have to say, their products are CUTE! These aren't your comfy Fruit of the Loom type undies. They're more like lingerie. They even have a blurb on how to tuck in your extra parts to get the most out of the underwear. I also clicked on a random product and it looks like most pieces are around the $30-35 range (they're listed in euros). Not a bad price for lingerie.
So, if you're interested, check 'em out! Also, I'm curious to know about the quality of the products and the company, so if you do get something, I'd love it if you would leave a comment.
Take care all!
Friday, August 22, 2014
For the trans spouse, those feelings of attraction, the desire for intimacy, the relationship, none of that inherently changes. What does change is caused by how much the other spouse feels that things have changed on his or her end. For example, Natasha, now being a woman, is not attractive to me. I have no desire for intimacy with her. The physiology of our relationship has fundamentally changed.
So here I am, living mostly very happily with my best friend. Every so often, my primal self, the part of me that likes to remind me that I like men, does its instinctive duty and I look at my devoted spouse and I feel horribly guilty for what my core being is saying to me. Life would be so much less complicated if I were much older and we'll past the point where my primal self gives a crap. But I'm not, and when it nags at me, I look at my spouse and see the person I used to want. It hurts.
But what am I going to do about it? Nothing. Not right now. Maybe not ever. A friend told me that I described where I am perfectly. I am the hub at the center of an infinitely-spoked wheel. Each spoke represents an option. Half of them lead me to stay and half lead me to go. But I am the hub and I can't actually make any decisions right now because the wheel is spinning very, very quickly. The only way it will slow down is if I can eliminate a lot of the spokes, and at this very moment, it is neither wise nor practical. I'm not going to even attempt to share any of those variables with you, mostly because you probably know exactly what I mean. For those who have no idea, I will say that no one lives in a vacuum and to make decisions as if one does is amazingly selfish and often catastrophic, especially to others.
For the rest of my life, Natasha will be a living, breathing memory of the full, complete life I had. I don't hate her for it, although I wish I had reason to. How much easier and how far fewer spokes there would have been had she cheated or had lied about knowing she was trans when we met. But no. There is no fault here, and that makes it all the more sad at times. I can't imagine my life without her, yet I sometimes wish we were neighbors or roommates instead of married. This pulling from different directions weighs in a person's soul at times.
And then, she is the living spouse who is still the one to make me laugh, to eat too much bacon with, to raise our kids with, to make silly voices at the pets. She's my family.
The wheel keeps spinning and it gets to me sometimes, but at the end of the day, I still have with Natasha what so many others will never have: a truly loving family. It makes me feel mad at myself that I even entertain the idea of breaking that up, even though I know that I am not the one who changed and that what I feel and think is normal.
I know it's okay to think what I do, even if it doesn't always feel that way. Just one of many effects of being the hub.
Monday, May 19, 2014
I hope you found that salutation at least a little funny because the rest of this post is quite serious. I was actually going to write about something else, not quite as serious, but I read something earlier on Facebook today that was posted by a transwoman that really, really upset me and I thought I should share it with you. If you are trans, then you might want to take this post to heart in terms of what you think you are willing to do to make your partner happy. If you are the partner, you should consider this post a warning about being aware of your wishes versus reality.
This person who wrote the post today has since removed it because some of her FB friends advised she do it if she decides to make what happened a legal matter. She posted a close-up picture of her face with a long scratch down the side, a picture of the person's fingers (the one who allegedly scratched her, and another of her full face. Apparently, her wife was the offender, and according to the transwoman, the wife was displaying anti-trans behavior. She called her wife, basically, a monster. Her wife hated her and called her names and just, pretty much, blew up.
This was the story she posted. I happen to have known the transwoman's story (her blog, a few emails/FB messages, and the press) since at least 2012, and it goes way beyond, way deeper, than the story posted today.
Here are the facts as I understand them:
The transwoman is a public figure. She transitioned on the job and transitioned back and, it seems, transitioned again.
Her wife was supposed to contact me when this all started, but she didn't take it well, I guess. The transwoman reached out to me, and to Natasha, for advice. We offered it where we could. I told her to be honest with her wife. Always. We also advised that to try to deny her "true" self for the sake of her family might come back to bite her in the butt.
Apparently, the transwoman doubted her transness because of some medication she took as a youth, but for a long time, she worked to be a woman, even though her wife was having trouble with it. Her wife even left, I think, but the TW convinced the wife to stay because the TW swore to remain a "he" at home. For a long time, the TW wrote and proclaimed how well things were going. More recently, she publicly proclaimed she... or, he... had "transient global amnesia," and wasn't trans. It was a cruel joke played by his wife.
So then today, having transitioned back to being a woman not too long ago, announced that her wife scratched her in a burst of anger.
Now, you know I'm not an advocate of violence in any way...
...but I kind of understand losing it enough to follow through.
I guess I've been lucky. Natasha basically put me in the driver's seat with her transition. Yes, she did try to remain a man. She even promised that she would make it all go away. But really, that was during the first six months, and she really, really tried. She wrote letters to her female self. She read them to me. She read what her female self wrote back. And when she was reaching the end of her rope, I was the one who told her to move forward. I saw the depression getting worse, as hard as she tried to remain "Jonathan." Since then, she has been honest with me about her feelings as far as how each step of her transition effected her. Like before she had the SRS, she so hated her man-parts that it depressed her to even pee. She tried anti-depressants. She tried to "live with it." But if you're even the remotest sensitive person (you know what I'm trying to say), you can see when someone you love is really not doing well and you want to help, even if it hurts.
For Natasha, being honest with me about how much more she could or could not take meant the possibility of losing me, but she told me anyway, believing that somehow we would find our way through it together. No matter what our future together looks like, at the very least she knows that she will always have a soul mate and best friend who loves her unconditionally, rather than a bitter ex-wife who vehemently blames her for ruining everyone's life.
So in a nutshell, this person was getting suggestions from FB friends to file a restraining order against her wife because her wife finally couldn't take the manipulation anymore. She lost her self-control and lashed out at her once-again-woman spouse. Of course I don't think that was the right thing to do, but again, the wife was really tossed about in a very turbulent sea of indecision that very infrequently really considered the consequences. And this is why this should be a cautionary tale to all of you readers.
Transfolk: I totally applaud you for not wanting to rock your partner's boat any more than you have just by wanting to change your gender, but be realistic about what you can and can't do about it. You MUST find out if you are truly, and I mean TRULY trans. Are you bi-polar? Are you projecting a hatred of a gender because of something that happened to you in the past? Or, did you know when you were a wee one that you were in the wrong body and feel "wrong" deep down in your soul? If you aren't sure, FIND OUT!! And once you find out, be honest with your partner. TOTALLY honest. Be willing to try to deal with it, I guess, but understand that if you really are transsexual, you will need to transition, even if you can't afford SRS. Understand that pretending to be happy in a body you aren't happy in is a lie and that you will, eventually, have to do something about it. But don't, and I mean DON'T, walk up to your partner and say that X must happen whether you like it or not, unless of course, you really could give a crap about your partner, in which case why are you still together anyway? But DO express your desires to your partner, no matter how afraid you are. Either the partner will or will not stay for the ride. You cannot not do it just because you don't want to lose the partner. And, now here's the point of all this, DON'T CHANGE YOUR MIND if you are, indeed, transsexual. Live with your Truth. Deal with it. Trust that your partner, whom you believe is your best friend and soul mate, will process everything, one thing at a time, and conclude that she or he still loves you enough to see it through with you. If your partner is neither your best friend nor your soul mate, well, don't be surprised if she or he doesn't stick around. But just as you didn't lie to your partner when you first met (RIGHT?!), don't do it now.
If you keep waffling back and forth, and someone is there with you, you are making that person go back and forth with you. It's entirely unfair. You know what happens when you shake a soda bottle? A lot?
Partners: Do your homework. Read about transsexualism. Don't read about transgender. It doesn't quite cover it. Ask your transpartner questions. Be honest with him or her about your own concerns. Ask yourself if this is your best friend and soul mate. If so, ask yourself if this person did anything to you on purpose... something the person chose (which being trans is NOT). Understand what will probably happen and what, generally speaking, needs to happen in order for a real transsexual to feel whole and happy within his/her own body. DON'T PUT UP WITH MANIPULATION, but do have the guts to call your partner on it (because sometimes it does happen subconsciously. We're human, after all). Demand to be part of the decision-making process, and seriously reconsider your relationship if your partner doesn't suggest it before you do. Walk away before you lash out. Remember that if your partner has been honest with you all along, no one is to blame. Remember that your partner, if he or she truly loves you, is TERRIFIED of losing you... but you need to be honest with yourself, too, and take what you can take and not take what you can't. Find a therapist (your friends and family are biased, you know). Face reality, no matter how painful it is. You can't hide from it.
And DON'T HIT ANYBODY!
So, I did contact this person privately and suggested that maybe she not make this a legal matter, considering that opening that can o' worms would probably end up being a media field day of reposting her past blogs wherein she waffled and strung her wife along being a he and then a she and then a he and then a she again. Who knows if she'll respond.
You know I know how hard this is for everyone. This is why I decided to share the story.
I wish you all the very best in life. I wish you all everything you truly want and deserve. Just make sure what you deserve is something good, okay?
Don't make me have to slap you!
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Except that over the last few months what has occupied me was whether or not we would be moving back to Los Angeles, how good was the public school our kids would - and now do - attend, whether or not Natasha would like her new job at a new school, whether or not I would get more work out in L.A...
Throughout this time, I've been dealing with my own hormonal shifts, and that did have a bearing on how I have seen Natasha in my life. I've noticed my libido getting more intense at times and having no one I wanted to satisfy it with. I also know that she has been feeling that kind of thing, too, but she has had no one who wanted to satisfy it with her. See the difference? Not so good. But over all, it's not been the biggest blip on my radar.
In terms of this blog, what I can say about this time is that dealing with the stress was both affected and unaffected by being married to a transwoman. Like many transfolk, they also had other issues to contend with, like depression, anxiety, OCD, or some other issue that at its core had nothing to do with being trans... or not entirely to do with it. For Natasha, she has suffered from depression because of more than one thing. But during her transition, she tried very hard to convince me and those around us that becoming a woman would make her a happier and much less depressed person. The truth is that she is happier in herself, but she suffers from as much depression as she did before. She still has trouble handling stress and she handles it (or doesn't handle it as the case may be) the same way she did when she was a man. We suffered a ton of stress lately, especially since probably October, and she got just as angry, withdrawn, snappy, and horribly sad as ever. I found myself thinking, "She's driving me as crazy as she ever did." In this regard, and in many, MANY positive aspects, she has been the same.
What did affect me was that when I was dealing with other people during that time and I had to discuss myself and my spouse, I felt more bothered about having to explain the whole female father thing or the husband/spouse thing. This was not at all her fault. It was that my stress made little things bother me. Now that my stress level has decreased, having to explain to people that Jonathan is now Natasha and that she is still the father of our kids, etcetera, is more amusing.
So, now we're settled in Los Angeles. The kids are going to be homeschooled for at least the remainder of this year and probably all of next. Natasha definitely hates her job but there's a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a new career, thanks to my sister-in-law. My own parents have moved down the street, which makes both my kids and my folks immensely happy and makes Natasha and me relieved. We have Disneyland annual passes. I'm a producer on a fledgeling web-based TV news show for writers. Things are good, right?
I decided to write a blog post today because I wanted to share that Natasha and I had a talk not a week ago about our relationship. We both know that I feel the missing link between us and there's nothing either of us can do about that, but also we know that we are best friends and soul mates for life. Some day, maybe one of us might meet someone else who is a soul mate, too, and also has the right sexual orientation, but right now, nobody's looking. We're happy with each other. We have way too much else on our plates to even contemplate changing our lives in that way.
I'm in a private Facebook group for partners of transfolk and there's this one woman who, from my perspective, ran like a bullet to a lawyer for divorce papers after her spouse dropped a male Facebook profile for an entirely female one. Granted, from what she says and implies, the transitioning spouse isn't really including her in any of the decision-making, so I don't think either of them are really losing any sleep over ending the marriage, but it's got me thinking again about how fast people run away from problems. The sad fact is that me being married to a woman is still a "problem" in that I am now married to one of my best friends and not to my best friend to whom I'm immensely attracted to. Even if we weren't having sex, which happened for several years before, I was still immensely attracted to my husband. So, yes, it's a "problem." It does have an effect on my life on a daily basis that is noticeable. But it was MUCH worse in the beginning and still I didn't run. I will never run from her. Not because of her being a woman. And when I say that it's still a problem I say that along the same lines as that I'm not a millionaire is a problem or that the sliding door in the den is finicky so that's a problem. There are varying degrees of "problem," and Natasha being a woman is of the lesser degree.
The woman on Facebook is like many other women I've met over the last few years who used the transsexual card as the final straw to get out of a marriage. Again, in her case it seems that the transitioning spouse wasn't acting fairly. Still, she is one more example, to me, of someone who when she decided to run, ran really fast and very suddenly. It's like a switch was flipped in her head.
Why do people run from problems? Do they think that turning their back on them makes them disappear? I've never been able to do that. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm a control freak and if I don't know what's hunting me I can't figure out how to defeat it. It's like when you show an infant your face and then move it behind your hands. They really do think it's gone. It vanished. Some part of some people never grow out of that, I guess.
Natasha and I needed to have that conversation about our relationship. We'd danced around it a few times in the recent past, but we needed to be on the same page about each other. As much as the conversation was more than laced with sadness, it was all the honest truth and it was all said because we still love and respect each other and never want to hurt the other person but still remain true to ourselves. The truth has very big teeth and if you try to run from it, you will get a painful bite in the ass eventually.
The truth is that while I felt like I'd put some of "myself" aside for Natasha during her transition, I also discovered so much about myself. What I put aside was my heterosexuality. I put away much of my anger and frustration. I discovered that I am a strong person. I discovered that I am far more loyal and giving than I ever imagined. I discovered that I really am a good mom. I felt loss. Great, deep loss. But I got though it and I got over it. I was able to think through things that were becoming emotionally overpowering. The truth was that what I "put aside" was not anything that was... unauthentic... to myself. It was all me. I was not ever false to myself. I never lied to myself. Having to put aside aspects of your life or your nature doesn't mean you are being fake or false. We put aside aspects of our lives all the time. When we have kids, we can't stay out all night partying anymore (well, if you want to actually be a responsible parent, that is). When we start a new job, we can't necessarily show up in our pajamas.
The pain I felt during Natasha's transition was the pain of growth, realization, and survival. It was facing fear and loss and change. I could still have done without it all, but I'm finally looking at this as a period in my life where I learned more about me and what I can handle.
More to come. I promise.