Saturday, December 31, 2011

Alternate Scenario #1

Welcome to the first of a potentially infinite number of entries in my new, Alternate Scenarios series. Not all of my future posts will contribute to this series, but I have a feeling that many will.

This series of posts are and will be inspired by Natasha's verbal commentary to me about other blog and forum posts she has read elsewhere. No names are ever shared with me, so I will have no names to share with you. These posts she comments to me about concern situations that involve partners or spouses, which is why I thought it would be appropriate to comment about these situations here.

So, on with the show! Today's scenario, "#1," is subtitled, "Post Facto (After the Fact)."

Let's say that Natasha, as Jonathan, had determined that he was a TS and, fearing my reaction, began HRT without telling me. After a few weeks, the fact that she was hiding not just one big secret but TWO, she wondered when and how she should tell me. After all, who knew when the HRT would begin to show, if it hadn't already?

Here's my first thought on this, from my spousal point of view: How selfish! Really?

I know perfectly well how difficult just coming to terms with being TS can be, but when a person is married or in any kind of committed relationship and the partner is not consulted IMMEDIATELY upon discovery of the situation, the TS is inherently being selfish. Who are you thinking about when you keep a secret that involves someone other than yourself? You are thinking only of you and that you might lose out, be left or kicked out, be yelled at or cursed. You are not thinking of the promise of honesty you made with your partner. You are not thinking about her/his feelings or what's best for that person when you keep a secret: especially one so life-altering for both of you. I'm not knocking those fears. Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants to be yelled at or kicked out. However, if you truly love someone (besides yourself), you owe it to that person so know the truth as soon as the truth is realized.

But according to this scenario, the damage is already done. Jonathan knows and he's begun HRT without telling me. I'm referring to Natasha as Jonathan because this is how I would still recognize her to be if this were the case. So, Jonathan has been on HRT for a few weeks and if I know him at all, I'll notice some emotional changes that I just can't put my finger on. I'll ask him if something's wrong and he'll either say that nothing's wrong or that his job or something is really starting to get to him. In that case, I'll probably focus on those issues and try... ultimately in vain... to help him. So the hole he digs for the both of us gets deeper. I become frustrated because I can't help him and he continues to get more emotional and his secret gnaws at her, which puts her further on edge.

Finally, Jonathan decides to tell me. He sits me down, the kids are out of the house, and he tells me that he's TS. How long has he known? What, a few months? And he hasn't told me until now? How do you think I'd react? Do you think I'd trust him? And then the pieces would suddenly fit together and I'd conclude that his emotional outbursts were his fear of telling me. And I'd say as much, but since this would be the come-clean day, he'd tell me that he's been on HRT for weeks.


When do you tell your partner after you've already begun treatment? ASAP! And you understand that you have broken your vow of honesty. You understand that you made your situation that much worse by keeping these secrets from your partner. Especially with the HRT, you chose, without consulting with your partner, to take drugs to alter your body and body chemistry to make you physically into someone your partner did not choose to be with. Ultimately, you have broken her/his trust and if you expect acceptance and open arms after that, you are dreaming.

This is not to say that it won't ever happen. You might convince your partner, after a time, that your fear of losing him or her drove you to secrecy. But here's the thing: the drugs were your selfish decision to continue on a path of no return ALONE. It's one thing to know for a time that you are TS. I can understand that. It's entirely different, however, when you voluntarily take medications... potentially dangerous medications... without including your loved ones. That says to me that you care more about your own path than that of your partner and family (especially if you have kids).

The bottom line is this: if you do love your partner at least as much as you love yourself, you should never have popped one pill without your partner's knowledge. He or she may not consent, and if that is the case, then you have to decide which road to take. What is more important to you: following the draw of your true self or resisting and respecting the wishes of your partner? You must assess the nature of that relationship. Are there already other problems in the relationship? Would it be better for everyone if you did not stay together? Do you trust in the bond of your relationship that your partner would eventually understand and support you? Do you put yourself through that, continuing to fight to keep the relationship in light of your changes? Whether you are just discovering that you are TS or whether you have already begun the irreversible journey in secret, you owe it to those who love you to be truthful and then face those consequences, because all of these what-if questions will happen at any point on the journey. Natasha told me at the beginning, mainly because she can't and doesn't want to keep secrets from me (unless it's about presents!), but also knowing that I could have made the spot decision to leave with the kids or kick her out. She trusted that I loved her enough to work past the changes and she was right. Perhaps a person keeps a secret or two like this because he or she is NOT confident in the strength of his/her relationship.

Natasha could have been wrong. There was a time when I didn't want to stay. It was a rather long time, I must admit. But I also could not deny that I loved the person I married and if she was, indeed, my best friend, who was I to stand in her way of finding inner happiness? Would I stop being a friend to someone I wasn't married to? Of course not! So, if I actually went ahead and MARRIED a best friend, wouldn't it be even more ridiculous to just give up the relationship because of something she could not help? Fortunately for the both of us, I gave myself time to work though my feelings before deciding whether to give up or not. But trust me: if she had begun HRT without me knowing, I'm very certain that we would not have a future together. Lying is lying. Withholding information like that is a slap in the face. She would have demonstrated that she did not trust me and that she was probably lying about all manner of things. Trust would be lost. And would I ever get over that? I don't know. Our friends and my family would probably have convinced me that I could never trust her again. It would have been like cheating. Knowing me, though, I might have consented to couples therapy. Either way, our futures, and those of our children, would not be as certain as they are today.

When do you tell your partner? NOW!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Status Quo

October 3rd, eh? That means for the past two months, things have been "status quo" for us. This means two things: first, the issues we've been having are still on-going and second, the happiness we share is still on-going. Good and could-be-better. But really, we've settled into something of a good place.

Natasha still has those moments of dysphoria that make me crazy. They don't make me angry or anything: just frustrated. I can't do anything to stop them and I can do anything to prevent them. Just last night, for example, I put my foot on her lap. It came to rest at the wrong place, between her right thigh and her left, and she got quietly upset for a moment. It wasn't anybody's fault, but it happens. Even more so, she still has these moments when nobody's touching her or saying anything either. Something triggers a thought and then POOF, there's the bad moment.

More importantly, for me at least, is that in my status quo I was able to return to an issue I had even before Natahs became Natasha, and that was her relationship with her family. It's a really crappy relationship, to put it mildly, and with the predicted tragedy of her father and step-mother's last visit (Natasha asked for their financial help with the surgery and, despite their immense wealth, they said no) she finally came to the conclusion that she needed to distance herself from them. Instead of this realization being a relief, which naturally it wouldn't be, her dead over seeing them again worsened. I didn't think that was possible! The problem at that point was that I was becoming less and less able to handle her depressive moments. I think I've become a little raw over the last two years, not just because of the transition but also because I've overburdened myself with responsibilities. Before the transition, her anxiety over seeing her family was beginning to bother me. I sort of put that on hold for a couple of years, and with the new status quo and then with the transition-fueled exacerbation of the issues Natasha has had with her father since childhood, I was finally forced to voice to her that she needed to see somebody about these issues or I would go nuts in a very bad way.

Sometimes I find myself looking at something in our house and it occurs to me that nothing's really fundamentally changed between Natasha and myself. I know I've said that before, but lately it's seemed even more apparent. That's why I say I'm happy in my status quo. Something interesting happened the other day. I have a picture of Natasha on the day she... as a he... asked me to marry her. It was, even to her admission, the best picture of her in existence. It's on my laptop as a desktop picture. It's been there through two laptops over about ten years. The other day, maybe two or three days ago, I was looking at it and it felt like she looked too different for me to have that picture as my desktop anymore. Maybe it's that her hair is longer or that, if I took that same picture of her today, wearing the same clothes (which she could: the sweat shirt is still in her possession), there'd be boobs pushing at the front of that shirt. But the fact would also be that we would have the same great time now that we had on that day... except maybe for the sex part.

Is it that her gender doesn't matter to me in that I've become something of a lesbian? Nope. Never will be because of that. It's that she is somewhat different in personality, considering that she's a girl and not a boy, but her inherent personality... those things about her that make her my best friend... are still there. In fact, I believe that after her transition is complete and after she can get through dealing with her relationship with her father and step-mother, we might even be better off than when we started. Many of the parenting choices she makes and I don't exactly agree with are right from her childhood. She is by no means a bad parent. It's quite the opposite. However, she projects her own fears and anxieties onto our son especially. He is very similar to her in many ways, but we are not her father and mother and, although she knows this, I can see apprehension in some of her decisions.

Some time ago, I said that I can see a future where she will develop an urge to move on and explore her feminine body as a heterosexual. I can still see that. But I can also see a future where we just kinda grow old together. As I said in the last post, though, I don't look into the future if I can help it. Those futures may very well be out there and some version of myself may experience one of them or both, but I choose to have a happy life with Natasha and the only way I can do that is to be as happy as today will let me. Today, I'm a bit tired and dreading going back to work tomorrow after our super-successful day selling our cookies at the farmers' market yesterday, and I really want to go out to dinner but we can't afford it. Our house needs a good cleaning, too. Other than that, I have no plans to rethink the course of my life in relation to Natasha. I think I'll maintain this status quo for a while. :-)

Happy Holidays!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Today is the Only Day

We visited our best friends over the weekend. Two of them are like sisters to me and they happen to really be sisters to each other. Truly. I was talking to the older sister, who always seems to be learning some life lesson at about the same time as I, even if the conveyance of that lesson is different, and we got on the subject of taking life one day at a time.

My parents are planners. Generally, they plan as much as they can, but they do recognize that much of life is completely unscripted. My father "expects the worst but hopes for the best," and that was what I learned to do. But I realized in the last several months that living this way in terms of my relationship with Natasha was literally killing me.

I have spent so much of the last 2+ years looking into the future where Natasha and I won't be together for one of several reasons that I limited my own ability to see that today, in this moment, everything is great between us. Sure: when I write in this space I can step back and list the good things and the not-so-good things about what is happening as a result of her transition, but when I was just living my life and regarding her, I looked far off into the future... a future that might or might not happen.

Things might not go well between us in the future, but then, things might end up better than they were before she transitioned. I've mentioned several times her mental condition prior to seeking therapy. It was really, really bad. It was getting to the point where I was unsure if I could handle it. So, since so much of that bad is gone, our relationship... today... is pretty darned great. So why would I spoil today with thoughts of an uncertain tomorrow?

Life can be short. I'd prefer to live forever, but that might not happen. When it comes to the success of our relationship, I believe that much of how this all turns out will be determined by how I live today. If I focus on something horrible that might not even happen, how can I possibly fully appreciate what I have today?

Today, everything in my personal life is wonderful!

It's my financial life that sucks. :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Ladies, especially those of you who commented on my last post, I'm not going to continue the conversation there. I'm going to say what I have to say and you all can talk it out if you choose to in comments, but I will not argue about it any more. As Anne said, we all seem to have our own definition of "choice." I'm frankly a bit surprised at the level of denial about this particular concept and that made me angry

But let me tell you this: When I said I didn't have a choice about whether or not to support Natasha's transition, OF COURSE I HAD A CHOICE. That's called an "expression."

However, many of you seem to think that there is some kind of controlling force out there in the universe that caused you to have this problem and thereby rendered you powerless to move your life on one direction or another.

The question is not whether I have known other TS than Natasha before. That's completely irrelevant to the topic of free will. I do happen to know the stories of several of you. I know that some of your relationships did not end well. I now that some of you are still struggling to hold on to those relationships. I know that some (a far smaller number) had no barriers to your transition. You all have different stories.

But it does not matter what your situation is. EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD HAS FREE WILL. Every person in the world must make a choice every single day at every moment. No matter what their situation. Little kids starving around the world were given their situations and what they might be able to do about that might have LIMITED choices, but they choose how to DEAL with their situations every moment.

You, my TS friends, have a choice. Perhaps you don't want to hear this, but there is only one definition of choice. I had a choice about whether or not to support Tasha. Each of you and each of your partners had a choice to make. You TS folk chose to follow your needs. I'm not saying that it was wrong.

LET ME SET THIS STRAIGHT. I'm not saying that the choice was an easy one or that it was not the obvious one or the path to least harm or whatever. The fact is that the moments we open our mouths to speak, we pick up a pen to write a letter, we put that letter in the mail or send it over the internet, the moments we put on that obvious piece of clothing for the first time to show the world what we think of ourselves, we are making a choice.

Don't forget that I am a SPOUSE. Perhaps your partner didn't or wouldn't tell you this, or that he or she couldn't find the right words to explain, but for US, your decision (which is a choice) to tell us when you did, how you did, where you did, changed our lives FOREVER. You cannot blame us for feeling this way, whether or not you and your partner had pre-existing problems. The fact is that choice is the at the very center of our pain and fear. It was your choice to tell us that we must process and get over. I'm sorry, but that's the absolute truth. Choice is what makes you feel guilty about having told us. Choice is what we wrestle with when trying to figure out where we stand in our relationships. Choice is what helps us determine to stay and find the happiness we had before or to leave and hope for happiness again.

Perhaps you might not follow my blog anymore because of what I am saying, but that tells me something about your level of guilt. I'm not trying to upset people. I'm representing the spouse here. I'm telling you, with as much impartiality as I can considering the circumstances, what's going on in my mind and my heart. You all, if you haven't done so already, need to do the same, because until you admit to yourself that you made a conscious decision to move forward with your transition, your feelings of guilt and all of those consequential feelings will NEVER subside. Any good therapist will tell you that you had a choice and that you have to own that.

If anyone is still reading this, I ask that you remember that I am not against any of you. If you've been reading my posts, you know that I also don't hold back. I cannot POSSIBLY imagine how you TS folk feel, but then, you can't possibly imagine how I feel. Yet, there are some universal truths out there that we should be able to agree upon. One of these is the matter of choice. If you had a knife in your leg and, as much as it hurt if you kept it in you would ensure the safety of your family, whereas if you pulled it out, while your own pain would subside your family would suffer, you still would have a choice. When someone holds a gun to your head, you have the choice to either do what that person says or attempt to overpower that person. If you can't swim and you suddenly find yourself alone in the water, you have a choice of either giving up without trying or trying your hardest and screaming for help. There is always choice. To say that you don't is an attempt at taking responsibility away from yourself. You can't do that.

So, until the next post... I hop you stick around to read it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Whom to Blame?

I've been having a conversation with a friend in England (via Facebook) about her situation with her TS spouse. I feel horribly for her because of the, frankly, pretty bad problems she is having because of her spouse's transition. I think that, while quite drastically bad in comparison, her situation is a very good example of what a lot of non-transitioning partners and spouses end up going through, and consequently what causes a whole heap of guilty feelings on the part of the TS.

I think that this may be the crux of the cause of so many spouses leaving the situation. Whether or not a rift in the marriage existed prior to the TS coming out, the fact is that when the transition takes place, at any point along the way, the partner/spouse is forced to change his/her life because of it. Because the partner/spouse did not choose for any of this to happen, and because... technically, the TS is not forced to make any changes at any point (it really is the TS's choice to do something when and where), resentment can rear it's ugly big head.

The big chore for the partner/spouse is where to direct the resentment.

Take my friend's situation. N is British. Her TS spouse, O, is American. They are legally married here in the US, she's lived here for many years, but for some reason the State Department has decided that now that O is legally a woman, their marriage is invalid. I don't want to get into a tangential conversation about whether this finding is correct, because it's not. The point is that N now has two choices to make:

1. Stay in England without her spouse and children for the rest of her life
2. Return to the US with limited domestic partner rights (she'll have health insurance) and without the ability to work, pay taxes, vote, get a permanent driver's license or pretty much anything else a citizen should have by law. She'd be on a renewable, temporary visa forever, with the possibility of deportation at the SD's whim. Essentially, she'd be forced to stay at home and do nothing.

See? I said her situation is extraordinary, but it makes the strong and very sad point that the struggle she's in now is SOLELY because her spouse transitioned.

One can't help but to feel a little resentment toward the TS spouse, even though it's the State Department's stupidity that is to blame.

My situation has similar qualities to it, as does just about every TS partnership. For me, I have to be willing to accept that, "Oh, you're in a LESBIAN relationship," look from people who realize that I use the term "spouse" and "parent" to refer to Natasha. And there IS a specific look. It's a kind of pitying yet curious look. I've had to accept that there is a woman sleeping in my bed with me and not a man. I've had to have conversations with my very young children about why it's okay that Daddy is becoming a girl but that the two of them will not have to change their genders when they are older. Clearly, these and other things that I'm adjusting in my life are not nearly on the same level of awful as those for my friend N, but they do wear a person down sometimes and I have to remind myself on occasion that it's not Natasha's fault.

Many spouses have this argument with themselves. On the one hand, like I said, the TS never really MUST do something. I hear lots of you lovely TS folk out there saying, "Yes. We do HAVE TO do something at some point." But come on. There's that "some point" factor that lots of folks forget about. How many TS folk have had to wait to progress from one phase of transition to another? Natasha had to wait. She's still waiting for her GRS. Perhaps some TS had to wait because the spouse said if you go any further, we're through and that was enough to stop it. This is not to say that waiting for any period of time is easy or painless. But it IS a choice to move forward, even if it's NOT a choice to be Transsexual.

But then, in my situation, Natasha didn't take any step forward until I gave her permission to do so. In reality, however, I didn't think I really had a choice. My spouse was in mental pain and for me to hold her back felt selfish and awful. So, as much as I didn't want to give her permission, I did because I loved her and wanted her to feel happier about herself. I knew what I was giving up and it broke my heart every day, over and over again. It still does sometimes.

Yet, I still resent the transition sometimes, and that's okay. But for many spouses, it's not okay, and here is where the marriage/partnership ends. I know of several TS folk who basically told their partners, "I have to go through this now and if you can't be with me then that's the way it has to be." Frankly, I think that's completely selfish, but perhaps there already was a previously existing issue in the relationship. If there wasn't, there sure would be at that point! If Natasha had said that to me, you bet I wouldn't be here. Throwing an ultimatum like that into someone's face is just plain rotten. Nobody HAS to do ANYTHING NOW (unless, of course, your organs are failing or something else threatens the finality of your life).

So, getting back to this resentment, assuming that the transition was agreed upon by both partners, we cannot help but sometimes to feel hurt by the situation. For those spouses who really do want to stay with their TS partner, it behooves you to sit down and really think critically about what is causing the resentment. If you want to stay in the relationship but are afraid and angry because your life is changing, think about the actual cause of what's making you angry. For me, one of my causes is that even the kindest people still think same-sex couples are strange. I'm angry at the bureaucracy of name changes. I'm frustrated that school forms still assume that when there are two legal guardians of kids, one must be male. For my friend N, she must remember that it's the State Department being stupid. Now, N has a long legal road ahead of her. That is stressful, painful, fearful and a host of other -ful words that will strain her relationship with O. But if they really do love each other and want to be together, then this is the road she must take. Her resentment toward O is that she doesn't have to go through this in the same way that N does, but N knows that's not exactly O's fault. It just gets hard sometimes to remember where to place that anger.

I use an analogy to explain to people why I have chosen to stand by Natasha and I think they understand (I've mentioned this before, so forgive my redundancy). If Natasha had been in a horrible accident that left her completely paralyzed but her mind was completely untouched, I would not leave her. Who would? She might change a bit in personality. It would dramatically change our everyday lives - what we could or couldn't do, responsibilities, job situations, etc - but the person Natasha would still be there. Yes, I've heard that sometimes people in traumatic accidents actually do change drastically in personality. This is different. Natasha knows that if she likes being a girly girl and spends hours in front of the mirror and insists upon buying lots of clothes and shoes and wants to start going out... well, I think we'll have serious problems. But this is not the case.

I would be so angry if something like that happened to Natasha (the accident, not the shoes). I'm sure there would be days that I would just sit on my bed and cry for hours over what had happened to my spouse and the stresses and responsibilities I would have inherited through no choice of my own. But I would stay and deal with it because she would still be my loving spouse.

Natasha feels guilty at times about what I am going through "because of her." I don't tell her not to feel guilty, but I do remind her that it's my choice to be here. One one hand, she is the reason for so much change in my life. Unlike an accident, she consciously chooses to progress with her transition. She knows that it shouldn't be up to me to let her move forward. I shouldn't have to make those kinds of decisions because, truthfully, then I can only blame myself. She is where she is because I have said, "okay." On the other hand, to deny her the ability to be herself in her right body is cruel. So, she lives with some guilt and I live with some unwelcome changes. But that happens anyway, right? Things change. S**t happens! People feel guilty about stuff.

Whom do we blame when s**t happens? Don't sling anything at anybody until you know for sure where to aim.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Rainbow Connection

Okay, at the risk of upsetting some people (What? Marni? Afraid of upsetting people? NOOOO!), I wanted to talk about the use of the rainbow when referring to a group or organization that supports the LGBT community... or even the LGBTQA community. I'm sure there's a longer acronym out there, too. The more we identify the subtleties between points on the sexual orientation continuum, the longer the acronyms are sure to get.

I LOVE the fact that Natasha is starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at her school. She has joined (because I subscribed to their eNewsletter) GLSEN. But then, she "Liked" this other group on Facebook called the LGBT Geeks of Arizona. That's fine for her, but I can't very well go to any of their events, now can I? I'm straight, after all. There are TONS of these groups. LGBT America. GALA - Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses. LGBT Democrats. Just do a search in FB alone and you could spend hours going though all of the sites.

So, like, I can't be a part of those groups.

Come on, now. I'm being a bit snarky here. You know that.

My point is that the "rainbow" that is utilized in so many sexual orientation group logos is misleading. Heterosexuals are a part of that rainbow. Sorry, but it's true. So, when Natasha decides to play the lesbian card and join these groups, I won't feel comfortable going with her. I'm not the "supportive spouse of a lesbian." That's just insulting to all lesbians. Lesbians don't need support. I'm the "supportive spouse of a transsexual," so maybe if I go under that umbrella, I'd feel welcomed. But then again, as so many people in the TS and TG communities love to point out, Tasha is NOT transgendered, right? That implies a choice to remain gendered masculine in her case, but to have a secondary female persona. That's just not how it is, though.

But here I go, getting caught in the nitpickiness that is the S.O. Rainbow (Sexual Orientation).

Natasha keeps trying to convince me that although I am not a lesbian, I AM in a lesbian relationship. That might be true, but I still cannot even remotely identify with another female's attraction to women. It ain't in me. I've got no problem with it, obviously, but it's like asking a lesbian how they would feel being with a guy. Um... no. So, perhaps I go with Tasha to a group thing that does not include the Straight color of the rainbow. Immediately, I am cast as someone whom I am not: the lesbian partner. Do I really care what others think of me? No. but having not been included in their pretty rainbow to begin with, I feel marginalized.

See where I'm at here? I'm not complaining about minority groups having groups. I'm complaining about my "majority" position among those groups.

In short, I propose that the rainbow only be used for groups that account for ALL S.O. categories. I, for example, consider myself to be a Heterobservant. That means I'm heterosexual who observes and appreciates the attractiveness of the same sex, too. So, I'm not quite on the far, far end of heterosexuality. Just to the left of me would be Heterobstaining, who are heterosexuals who can sometimes feel turned on by the same sex but has no desire to do anything about it. What about them? What is their color on the rainbow? Eh?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Boy Said Something...

Okay, on to other news.

This morning, after Natasha had gone to work, E came into my room while I was getting dressed. He and R like to play with all of my hair clips, and he was doing just that, when he asked a question about which of the hair ties, bands, clips and pins were Tasha's. After I answered, I asked him, "Are you sure that you're okay with Daddy being Sunny?" He said, quite intelligently (he's 6), "Definitely. She's not as angry as she used to be."

I asked, knowing the right answer, "Did she yell more when she was a boy?"

E said, "Oh yeah. She yelled a lot and now she doesn't yell much at all. That means she's happier."

I said, "That means we're all happier since she doesn't yell as much, right?"

He said, "Definitely."

He promptly stuck a clip in his short hair and spun around a few times.

The lesson here is that if you have people in your life who doubt whether or not what you are "doing" by transitioning (or accepting it if you are the spouse) is good for the kids, ask the kids. They'll tell you the truth if you let them.

A New Old Me

Since Natasha is now "out" to everyone, it's time for me to do the same.

My name is not Casey, although you are welcome to continue to call me this name. It's actually the name of the main character in my book series about faeries. :-)

It's also our collie's name. :-D

My name is Marni. I am the proud spouse of a crazy woman named Natasha. I live in the Phoenix area with her, our two genius children, our two dogs, four cats and two fish.

Just so you know.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Which Way Do You Want to Go: Up or Down?

Tasha bit the bullet and spoke with her principal two weeks ago. He was totally cool and open, as was the rest of the faculty and staff at her school, and last Monday, on the first day of school, she showed up as herself. Despite a few gawker and rude students, she had the happiest week of teaching in her life!

I am very happy for her. She's in a great mood, considering that she's back at school. She says she loves what she does and I believe her, but she also had tons of really crappy days, which I'm sure she'll still have, but they won't be as bad because she'll be herself and if she wants to cry and yell at her students, she can do that. :-)

So, now Tasha is living full time and a few friends have asked me how I'm feeling about that. I'm actually pretty fine about it. In fact, on the day her principal gave her the okay, I went into her part of the closet and took out most of her male clothing (except for a few shirts that I insist she keep and wear as over-shirts. They're tasteful and somewhat gender-neutral). In fact, I'm relieved that the waffling between genders, and the consequential depression and moodiness, has ended. Besides the SRS, which affects her way more than it affects me, as far as I'm concerned, she's all her now.

Next Friday, we're going down to Tucson to get her name officially changed. Later, when we have more money put aside, we're going to change the kids' names, too. Tasha is going to pick up my maiden name as a second middle name like I have, and so the kids will have it, too. It is symbolic for us to have both of our last names this way because we are not simply a part of her family. I chose to keep my maiden name since I was the wife and believed that I should pick up her family name. So, we're making it all "even," you know? She said she should have done that when we first got married. I'm just glad we're doing it now.

I have this sense of calm about everything. As I said, she's always female now, so in my mind, her maleness is gone. My spouse is not gone. The person who was my husband is not gone. Only her maleness. Actually, as I write that, I have to add that there are "male" aspects that have not gone away. She's a big woman in that she is tall and stocky. She'll loose a ton of weight and she'll still have that, and that's great! This is why Natasha is a perfect name for her! :-) Anyway, one of the things she has been doing for a long time is toss the kids onto our bed at night. They experience flight for just a moment. She still does it. Even though she thought she lost too much muscle mass in her arms, she realized (after I cajoled her into doing it again) that she can still do it. She's still the "fixer" around here, too. She picks up dead birds and throws them away (don't ask). She still occupies the Daddy role in our family, which makes both of us happy, so I haven't really lost any part of my spouse that I worried about losing.

The other day, my mom took me aside and asked me how I was taking all of this. I knew that she was speaking for herself as well as for my dad. A lot of their concern is for our kids, and I understand that. They are really great kids and they understand what has happened to their daddy. I've written in the past that it has been shown that how children take this kind of change largely depends upon how the spouse who does not change takes the news. So, you can extrapolate how my kids are taking this from how I am, right? So, in my response to her... actually to both of them and in front of Tasha, I told them that every decision I am making, from doing my best at a job I hate to pushing our cookie business, to continuing to write my books... to staying with Natasha, every single decision I make every moment of the day begins with the thought of how it will affect my children. What is best for them? Every direction I try to steer my life is based directly on which direction is best for them. Am I setting a good example? Am I teaching them the right lesson?

Staying with Natasha, as I have told my wonderful, loving, giving parents, is right for the kids. For me to leave simply because something happened to her... something beyond her control... would teach my children that it is better to run away than to stay and work hard. I would teach them that all it takes is ONE SINGLE CHANGE to make everything good end up meaningless and valueless. It would teach them that love is, in fact, conditional. If she had become a quadriplegic and were unable to have sex anymore, should I have left? What would that say to my kids?

I am not trying to accuse anyone of anything, my amazing and honest readers. I am not trying to come off as better than anyone. I am just writing my blog. Those of you who know me know that I don't think about my readers as I write. Otherwise, I wouldn't be genuine in what I was trying to say. I know that things don't work out between couples for any number of reasons. Clearly, at this point I looked over what I had read and thought that it might start some accusations my way of being snooty. So, let me put that to rest. I'm telling you what's been going through my mind. I'm telling you that every single decision I've made throughout this journey with Tasha is about the kids. Every decision I've made since the moment I got pregnant with our boy was about him. That's just how it is. My happiness is their happiness, and since I would be miserable without my Esposa, so would they.

To everyone out there reading this, I can only wish you the happiest of lives with what you have. I hope that your spouses find their happiness, too, no matter what that means. No journey is easy. Mine sure hasn't, and it's not even over yet. But I hope that you see the happiness you already have and hold onto it, nurture it and help it grow. Keep it near you during the difficult times and let it help you. Let it guide your decisions.

That's it for now.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

To Everything There is a Season

First of all, to everyone who has commented lately and offered their personal experiences and opinions, thank you. I am happy to know that there have been successful relationships at the end of this tunnel. I am relieved that neither Tasha nor I am alone in our struggles.

Unfortunately, knowing that we're not alone doesn't make any of this easier.

Tasha got the good word this past week that she has a surgery date, and it's less than a year away. I was very happy for the both of us. This involuntary journey now has an end.

I thought that having a date would make things easier for both of us. Tasha was elated the day she found out and put an app on her phone to remind her of how many days are left. Yet, she's now had two of "those" days in a row. "Those" days of unplaced sadness. "Those" days of edginess. "Those" days where the kids can't do much right. It's entirely frustrating for me because I also can't do anything to cheer her up. She says I make her feel better, but what does it matter when "better" isn't much from my perspective?

There are a LOT of things going on now. She's going back to school in a couple of weeks and so must be Mr. for 180 days. We have cut back severely on our spending because we just don't have anything to spend. We are frustrated at the slow start of our cookie business. We are both finally facing our emotional relationship with food head-on. For her, health is a major issue at this point because of the deadline of her surgery. Both of us have struggled with weight for our whole lives and lately, lethargy has been winning.

I started taking St. John's Wart a short while ago. I finally admitted to myself that I am somewhat depressed. Yes, of course the situation with Tasha is a part of it, but it's really everything piled up. The immense hatred of my job doesn't help matters. I refuse to take prescription medication, though, because I am fully aware of the sources of my stress and that some of those sources will lesson or go away and others will settle themselves. I think I mentioned a while ago that the worst part of Tasha's transition is not that she's changing but that the drawn-out process is incredibly frustrating. I just want it over with so that we can figure out how our story continues.

So, I have my worries and stresses, and then I have Tasha's. She's not sleeping well. She's staying apart from the kids. She's participating in the household but not as much as she said she would and, knowing that she isn't, she feels badly about it.

She feels badly about a lot of things and that makes her feel even worse.

And I can't do anything about it except work around her until she feels better.

She's supposed to feel happier now that she has a date.

'Tis the season to be grumpy. It's going to be a long school year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why is it?...

...that when I'm tired, everything seems bigger or worse than it really is?

Sunday, May 29, 2011


It sometimes hurts to see the future. For a few things in my life, I can do this. I don't know how, but I can and it's not always fun and flowers that I see. Those of you who read Tasha's blog already know that she has discovered the attraction of men and, while I mostly think its funny, it's not all that funny. The reason it doesn't amuse me more is that everything that has happened with Tasha's transition has happened almost EXACTLY as I have seen it. Every single step of it was not what I wanted to see, yet there was. When we were sitting there in the theater watching Thor and she gasped when the god first appeared, I shook my head and smirked. It was definitely amusing, but it confirmed what I knew would be happening.

How long had she assured me that she was 100% lesbian and men were... ew!...? The thought of a guy putting his... yuck! No more of that now. Still, she reassures me that it's all just looking, just like I might look occasionally. She's not going to have some affair or come to me one day and tell me that she is really lusting to try it. I believe that. What I have seen as a result of her new-found interest in men is that she will also discover that her attraction for women will wane and that she will only stay with me because she loves me more than anything. Does that sound like I am devaluing her love for me? I'm not. Everyone knows that love is not enough. Yes, we are also best friends. But best friends who love each other don't necessarily make a successful marriage either. What about my insistence that sex doesn't mean so much to me? I doesn't. But I do like to have it sometimes. So does she. But when both people are thinking about guys when it's happening? Come on! Do we stay together in a happy married friendship?

I'm not seeing doom around the corner. I'm really hoping that when this happens, we will have moved far enough into the relationship and the transition (complete, I'm really hoping) that our marriage will end with us being as close as two friends can be without being married. I'm hoping even more than this that it will never happen. I'm hoping that I will find that being intimate with my spouse is still a good thing, if different. I'm hoping that her fascination with men is simply a fascination and that she remains the adult she is instead of a hormone-driven teenager her drugs tempt her to be.

Our friend B is concerned, too. She finds it both as amusing and as concerning as I do. She doesn't want me to end up a single mom with the dreams of forever with my spouse broken into pieces. She doesn't want me to bear the weight of having to say good-bye to the person I was supposed to never have to say that to.

I'm wondering if there could be a happy middle if there were two mainly heterosexual women in a marriage. The love has not changed. The bond between us has not weakened. NOTHING about our marriage has changed except for her gender and now her sexual orientation. So, for all of my insisting that sex isn't the big thing in our marriage, might that still end it for us, or is the MEMORY of how we felt about each other sexually enough? Can we harness our feelings and make sex work when that time comes?

I don't have to worry about it right now. Sex ain't happening right now. I strive to remember the humor in all of this. For example, I have something else I can tease Tasha about. That's always a good thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Been a While...

I'm sorry, everyone, about not having written anything in a while. My part time job turned into a full-time one, requiring me to go into the office a few times a week, so when I do get to be home during the week, time just keeps on slippin'... you know the rest.

If you've already seen this post, you'd know that I had written something entirely different than what you are about to read. The problem is that much of it was very harsh, and after having a strange epiphany today on the way home from work, I realized that what I had written would probably return to bite me in the butt later on.

The original version had to do with the events that transpired at the LA book fair with my family. What I find interesting at this moment is that realizing something about my new work environment has altered (a little) how I view my spouse's family.

To be honest, my relationship with my FIL and SMIL have always been strained. If they were to read this, they would not disagree. But with the new wrinkle of my spouse becoming female, there is even more strain. Obviously, they don't blame me for Natasha's transformation, but when they cause stress on her, they cause stress on me. It's just the way it is.

I originally wrote here, but in a much angrier tone, that I have never quite felt a sincerity from them. I know that they love our children in the way they know how, and I know that they are not inherently bad people. They are just different people. They are not particularly people whom I would be friends with if I met them on the street, but they do good things and have good hearts. They support environmental and social causes that are for the good of the world and its people, yet their political views to me are strange and illogical and they do not treat their children as I would. But that's who they are.

My original post was a question of whether or not I could see past the "negative" aspects of Tasha's parents and because of my circumstances at work, I answered my own question.

This job I have was my part-time teaching job-turned-full time. I have added responsibilities, like being the librarian and trainer for our new online information system and curriculum development. These are things I really think are neat. One downside is that they are making me work half of the time in the office, which I don't understand. The other downside is that the CEO of the company has absolutely no business being the CEO. She is an Executive Assistant to the owner who was given an opportunity to run a company, but that company happens to be an academic company, which needs to be run more like a school than like a business. She's running it into the ground and blaming all of the departments for the situation. I could run the company better than she, if only for the simple reason that I have been an academic: I know how schools operate; I know how students operate; I know how departments interact with each other. Sure, there are other aspects to being "in charge" of a company, but really, she's not doing it right for what she has. This is the BIG downside. She is so paranoid about losing her job that she has decided to micromanage every department like Big Brother. She is having us develop courses for programs that should not be developed at this point. She is making faculty and staff do things to boost student retention that simply will not work well in the long run.

In short, because I need to have this job right now, I have to keep my head down and my mouth shut (well, except with my immediate boss. He and I are on the exact same wavelength so we have someone to commiserate with when we can). Seriously, this is VERY difficult for me. I dread going into work every day because I know that the CEO is going to send some kind of scathing email to my supervisor or his supervisor about something stupid and pointless that she wants us to do. When you can see the truth clearly but have to live in a world of dumb, it's hard.

I am in no way saying that my in-laws are dumb. It's quite the opposite. FIL, in particular, is a brilliant guy. He just lives his life in a vastly different way than I do (wealth aside). What I did learn today is that, whatever I do know about my in-laws, they are what they are and I may never hope that they will change. In my job, I know what I know and I must accept that I can only survive my time there by doing my job within the mess.

So, do I accept who my in-laws are? Yes. I don't have to approve, though. I'm positive that they don't approve of me, except perhaps that our children are brilliant and wonderful and kind and respectful and they had to have learned these things from their parents (maybe not the brilliant part). I (we) must be doing something right.

Now, what does this have to do with the purpose of my blog? That's the simple part. I think that sometimes Tasha forgets that her family are the last to know. This is all very new to them and they've only seen her a couple of times. Granted, some of them have said things that go beyond a state of shock, but on the whole, I don't necessarily think that they are reacting in a terribly negative way. Take brother-in-law M. He recently asked Tasha if she could wait a few years before doing anything else. If Tasha would think back, she would remember that I was far from ready to accept her fully as a woman and that I was thinking in terms of years or even decades before I could possibly consider "giving up" my husband. The thing I keep pointing out to Tasha about my SMIL is that she doesn't really have any tact. Often, in the case of Tash's transition, SMIL says things that come out very harsh, like that "You're such a good actor" thing. Again, looking back on our own history, I even questioned her that perhaps she had found out about TS through research and because it solved so many of her deepest issues, namely self-hatred, she convinced herself that it was true when it might possibly have not been so. She had even admitted that she had seen therapists before and told them what they wanted to hear. She was hurt when I had challenged her in this way and it's happening all over again with her family.

I'm not suggesting forgiveness here... and this is how I think it all ties together. I think that it is important for both of us to remember that her family is who they are, especially her father and step mother. We don't have to like it. We don't have to forgive the lack of tact on SMIL's part or FIL's deliberate refusal to refer to Tasha either by her female name or by her gender pronoun. It's not nice, period. BUT, we can save ourselves a lot of personal angst if we are diligent in remembering these things about them, expecting the behavior every time, and letting it all go when we are done visiting. The final outcome will be apparent in the near future. Either they will accept this like everyone else has, or they won't. If they don't, there will be new issues. But this is still raw for them, so in spite of what we know, as good people we need to remember that it is raw and give them a chance to process it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Liberal" or "Non-Judgmental"?

More than you know, I so very much appreciate that so many people - here and in person - have said to me how proud they are of me or how "brave" I am to be going through Tasha's transition with her. They remark how open or liberal I am to recognize my sexual orientation yet remain willing to at least try to be intimate with another woman for the sake of our marriage. It's not about our marriage really, but rather our relationship. I've said numerous times now that sex isn't so important in our relationship. I have a feeling that Tasha will eventually want to do something, though, and I will do my best to enjoy whatever it is. That's because she is my best friend and soul mate (sorry, B! I love you, too!).

We ask ourselves, "What are we willing to do, give up, sacrifice for someone else?" We do it all the time. I'd like to meet the couple who insist that their relationship is perfect and neither had to make any changes in their lives at any point in their relationship in order to make things work better. I have a character in the book series I've started. Her name is... CASEY!... The series is about the "secret" history of the Irish Faery race and Casey is the narrator. Basically, she meets a human and they fall in love, but in the first book they are separated in such a way that they can be very close but never touch. How horrible is that?! The series spans over 3000 years, so you might wonder what Casey will do in order to reunite with her one true love.

If you're interested, by the way, you can learn more about Tir Na n'Og: Journal One and buy it here. Okay, I'm done with the advertising. :-)

What AM I being? I can't really tell you. I don't feel "brave" or anything like that. I think it's just that I don't think I have a choice. Really. I know many of you are going to comment on that. You'll say, "You DO have a choice. If you don't want to be there, get out." But that is not an option for me. Trust me: I have no religious testament telling me that I can't get divorced. It's not about that at all. The reason that I don't feel that I have a choice is because when I have thought about leaving, the idea of being in the world without my Bubbow with me makes my heart break. I feel sick to my stomach. It's not that I'm being liberal or non-judgmental about this situation; it's that shit happens to us all and we either deal with them or we run away... at least that's how I work. The shoe falls and I deal with the damage. But in no way is leaving the mess behind a part of "dealing." I chose to be with Tasha as a male and because her becoming a female on the outside does not shatter my concept of our marriage, it is "damage" that I deal with.

What happens if your spouse, who is "normal", gets into an accident that renders him or her a quadriplegic? You can't have sex anymore. Do you leave? Lots of people do, but partly because coping with that kind of situation is very stressful and your life is altered forever... wait! That sounds familiar!

Look: I'm not trying to be harsh on anyone reading this who did leave or whose spouse left. I'm trying to explain how I view my situation. I just don't leave because there's a problem, and the fact is that if not for the TS, our marriage would be as perfect as anyone could ask for (except for Tasha's non-gender related quirks! :-D).

Besides, I'm very judgmental. Part of the reason why I have not given up is because of how I view people who give up (and again, I'm NOT saying that the relationships that ended did so because someone GAVE UP). Part of the reason why I will not leave because of an uncertainty about the future is because of how I view people who do. For goodness' sake: nothing about the future is certain!

I may be "liberal" because I don't have moral hangups about sexuality or gender identity. "Non-Judgmental"? I'd like to say that I'm not, but it wouldn't be true. "Brave"? I might be brave, but not because of this. I might be brave if you think of life the way my father does. He told me not too long ago that if all of the crap that's happened to me over the years had happened to him, he'd probably have killed himself long ago. People around me are worried that I'm going to have a nervous breakdown soon (not just because of Tasha. I've got a LOT going on). So in that respect, perhaps brave is an okay word. Yet, again I return to my idea of the Other Shoe. I know it's up there. Other shoes have dropped on my many times. I just get up and keep moving forward. It's what I always do. I have no choice.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Blood...

I've been debating whether or not to write about the following topic, but since my goal in writing this blog is to help people, I decided in favor of sharing. DISCLAIMER: This is meant to be at least somewhat funny, but it has some gross parts, too.

Transsexual ladies, you may look like women, sound like women, feel like women psychologically... but there's something you can NEVER have that truly means being a woman and you will forever miss out:


I hate my period. I've always hated it. It's messy, stinky, painful, emotional, messy, messy and.. oh yeah!... messy... and emotional. Did I mention emotional? Having a period may be the key to being able to have kids, but seriously? Come on! If there is a god, and that god is good, it ain't a woman!

Trust me: you might be saying to your computer screen, "I'd take having a period if it meant I was born in the right body." You SAY that, but you just don't know. I was born in the right body and once a month, I wish I wasn't a woman. I'm not joking... Well, I'm exaggerating, but I really, really hate my period. I'd like to start menopause now, thank you. I've had the kids; what do I need the period for anymore?

You know why I really hate my period? Besides the messy part, which really totally sucks, what I hate the most about it is that once a month, for about two days, I think about the worst things. I already think bad thoughts. I have awful visions of my children being abducted or Tasha being in a car accident or a fireball hitting the Earth. That's during the other 26 days. But when the cycle starts, for the first two days, my whole life is wrong.

Today, for example, I was folding clothes from our wonderful, hasty withdrawal of our stuff from the bed bug infested bedrooms when I came across an elegant piece of lingerie I bought before I met Tasha. I still have a few pieces, but my husband didn't really get anything out of them, so I stopped wearing them. As I put it aside and continued to take women's clothes, hers and mine, out of a plastic bag, I felt worse and worse. In my mind, I said, "You wouldn't wear that anyway. You hate how you look." I thought about putting it on for Tasha and I didn't like that feeling at all. I got scared. I tried to imagine being passionate with Tasha and that felt... wrong. I really started to panic. I tossed the lingerie into another plastic bag intended for donations and tried to put it out of my head.

I couldn't do it. So, I activated my rational mind. I reminded myself that we never really had a highly passionate relationship. Sex was not a big part of it, although we did have sex more often in the beginning. I called my friend, B, and asked her to call me. I needed some reassurance. In the meantime, I had a conversation with myself about how I'd been going through some kind of desire to have desire for several years. I reminded myself that what I was feeling went beyond my spouse becoming a woman.

I was still bothered. This happens on my period. I waited until B called.

Would you believe that I had no distinct memory of being passionate with anyone? B reminded me that I had, in fact, been so stupidly passionate in my youth that I was in a doomed relationship because I wanted to have sex. I did that a few times. I ignored the hazard flags for sex. Not atypical, but I honestly, truly forgot! B also reminded me that she and I used to go to Victoria's Secret to buy lingerie just because it felt good to do it. We felt good about ourselves in the outfits.

The fact is that the relationship I am in had passion, but it was not that fantasy kind. I was older, too. I'd been there and done that and I really wanted a soul mate who was also my best friend. B suggested to me that BECAUSE I am now faced with having to change my sexual preference in order to keep my marriage, a long-buried issue has reared it's nagging head and my special time has exacerbated it. The issue is that I have missed the passion, partly because it made me feel desired. I know that my spouse desires me, but then here I am again facing the fact that, while her view of me has not changed, my view of her has.

I don't mean to get into an exhaustive monologue about this issue in particular. The crux of this blog is what my period does to me. Periods make small things big. Periods make little concerns huge issues. During a period, I have a strong sense of the differences between my rational and irrational minds. During my period, guess which one is louder?

The fact is that sex is still not an issue. The fact is, like my other friend, D, said yesterday, at some point a great relationship becomes a great friendship. The fact is that I still have NO IDEA what I will will not do in terms of intimacy when all is said and done.

I hate my period.

So, why have I shared this experience? I think I decided to do it because it's important for transfolk, MTF in particular, to understand that so much drives how we born women feel from day to day. Remember that what you experience on HRT is similar to what we experience. It's different, though. Take your emotional roller coaster over a month and shove it into a few days to a week. As men, you might have been patient with us as we went through our special times, but now, as hormonal women with your own crazy mood swings, it's important to stay conscious of how crazy your partner's emotions are, too. Be reassuring, be kind and be PATIENT. Remember that it's okay for your partner to have moments of doubt, anxiety, confusion or panic. As long as those moments pass and your partner is mainly on board, there is still hope for a happy ending, you know? I wanted to demonstrate that, as much as I show my support of Tasha going through this transition, even I, the devoted spouse, have moments of freak-out.

Have I mentioned how much I hate my period?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breaking Wind

I sit here waiting for the exterminators to come and kick me out of the house so that they can rid us of horrible, disgusting bedbugs. We have a theory about how they came to our house; they got into our luggage during a trip to California last Autumn. Silly us: my parents always told me to wear at least my socks at all times when staying in a hotel. I stopped doing that a while ago and got so comfortable that we put our bags on the floor. YUCK! Never again...

Anyway, as I sat here waiting, I thought about my in-laws and how I wish they'd stop coming from California.

I'm sorry to those of you who have been curious about my interpretation of the infamous meeting with the therapist a couple of weeks ago. I'll start it now and then if the exterminators interrupt me, I'll finish later.

So, it was a miserable experience. I never enjoy seeing them, except to see my children's happiness at seeing them. They came in the night before and we all, including my parents, had dinner together. Tasha came to the restaurant from work, so she did not have time to change from her man clothes, so the in-laws were comfortable. Eventually, although I only overheard parts of it, the father-in-law started asking questions and spouted concernes about how this transition will affect the kids. This was not the first time this subject was discussed. We talked about it at length when Tasha first told them in February. I wasn't surprised. They never remember anything you tell them. They don't really care to remember because then what ever would you talk about the next time you saw them?

Then, finances came up. Again, it's been discussed. Tasha's hopeful plan is to finish teaching at the end of NEXT year. If we don't have the finances to do so, she won't.

Oops! They're here... More later... :-)

Okay... sorry for that interruption.

The next day, we met at the therapist's office. Right off the bat FIL (father-in-law) was on the defensive. He continually referred to Tasha as he and used his male name. S, our therapist, politely continued to correct him until he abruptly exclaimed that he would use whatever pronoun or name he wanted. Then, the questions... the same questions... were asked. You can read Tasha's blog for the details. But what really got to me was SMIL (stepmother-in-law) saying over and over again, "But you're such a great actor." This, after exclaiming upon seeing Tasha that she looked like she was wearing a costume.

Here's the thing. I know what SMIL was trying to say with the costume comment. "I'm not used to seeing you with women's clothes on." And, "You're such a great actor," meant, "Your such a smart person and you can be very convincing. Are you sure this is what you want?"

Said in translation, it seems like she really cares, right? But here's how it comes out: The costume comment is interpreted as "You look ridiculous." The actor comment is interpreted as "You hate yourself so much that you're looking for something big and extreme to get attention and you're such a good actor that you've convinced YOURSELF that this is real, but it's not."

Should I (and Tasha) forgive her knowing what she probably meant? The thing is that I like to hope for the positive even when I know from experience that it is not the case. So, no.

I was glad my dad was there because, although he kept his mouth shut most of the time, he opened it when it was necessary to ease some of Natasha's pain at having to listen to her father and step-mother question the validity of the condition and the therapist's credentials to treat her. Yes, I can definitely understand concern. I know it is hard to swallow at first. Nobody is saying that acceptance should be easy and without reservation. The problem with the session was that Tasha's parents came in with an idea that they did not change through the course of the hour. While FIL admitted to my dad that he felt better about things after it was over, he felt better about the sanity of my kids, rather than feeling better about his relationship with his daughter.

The day just got worse, but I won't get into it since Tasha told you what happened at dinner. We should not have gone, but we went because the kids needed to see them.

Tasha did not let me say anything at the session. I mean she told me before that I was not to tell them off or anything. I almost did when they questioned our ability to do what's right for our children, but I didn't. What I really wanted to say was, "F**k you, you piece of s**t! Who are you to criticize how we raise our children? You were the sh*ttiest father I've ever met. You have no credibility as a responsible, moral person, especially since you left your first wife... Tasha's mother... for her best friend, cheated on HER, and left Tasha alone for weeks at a time so that you could run off wherever! You should go rot!"

Now, I do have some tact. It wouldn't have come out like that. However, he definitely would have been called out on his hypocrisy. Oh, you bet! There are so many things I want to say to them both. They're fake. They're insincere. They're materialistic and they are selfish. Their hypocrisy gets me the most. I mean, come on! Tasha's father has so much money that to pay for her surgery AND get a new hairline would be like handing out the change in his pocket. He claims to care about what Tasha is going through and he claims to be supportive, but do you think he's going to pay for the surgery?

So, that's my rant about my in-laws. Taaha's mother is much more supportive, but will also probably not give a single dime even though she could. But emotionally, she's in the game. It's not surprising to me because it doesn't really affect her. Really. That's how she thinks. She doesn't really care either way, except that now she has another daughter to buy girly things for (tacky, but girly). Whatever her motive, at least she isn't doubting.

Some day, our kids are going to understand how we really feel about FIL and SMIL. We're not necessarily going to straight-up tell them, but they are already quite observant and we will not lie to them if they start asking questions. They will see how Tasha and I are treated (especially Tasha. I think at the very least FIL and SMIL are impressed with my fortitude and seem to be treating me a little more respectfully... a little). Perhaps my in-laws will begin to understand what they have done when their grandkids don't want to see them or, more likely, when they confront their grandparents. I just wish Tasha would have it out with her father. I know it won't change anything for FIL, but I think it would make Tasha feel better. Her family never really says what's on their minds anyway. It's either danced around or sugar coated or misrepresented.

Ah well. It's over, and I hope we never do that again. If we do, I'm not going to keep my mouth shut, though.

Why the title, "Breaking Wind"? It's what comes out of my in-laws' mouths. It's often foul, lingers long after it's over and either makes you laugh due to its ridiculousness or cry due the pain it caused prior to its evacuation. Stretching, maybe, but it still makes sense. :-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Being the Partner

Okay, so it's been a long while since I've written, and I am sorry for that. As much as I love to have my family around all the time, the downside is that most of the things I get done when they are not here don't get done. :-)

Today, I want to write to the partners. I hope that the trans folk will find something at least entertaining in this post, but my audience is the partners. I mentioned this was coming in my last blog, so here it is. It's not an angry blog, though, if you were concerned. :-)

Why is it that some partners stay and others don't? Are you in this position where you are trying to decide which way you will go? My spouse, Tasha, has not completely transitioned, so I can not guarantee that I will always be married to her, but at this point, I feel mostly certain that the likelihood of my departure is very small. How can I say this with such sureness? I have asked myself... many times... certain questions that I think every partner, whether married or not, should ask before making the decision to stay or go.

When all of this first started, I insisted that I could not live with my husband being a full-time woman. I couldn't imagine it. I think that was my problem: I tried to imagine it. In reality, you just can't do that. I finally sat down and asked myself, "Why did you marry him?"

I married my husband because of a long list of personality traits and a short list of physical traits. Earlier on in her transition, I worried a lot about the disappearance of those personality traits. So far, none on this list have disappeared. Now, my husband was not perfect. He had little quirks about him, as does everyone, but these never outweighed the positive things. Unfortunately, most of the quirks have stayed. :-)

With the personality items safely secured, I turned toward the physical attributes. For me, I have an attraction to height and build (build being stocky, not buff). Sadly for Tasha, neither of these items will ever be changed with any amount of estrogen or surgery. I don't happen to be a very "physically oriented" person. I might find someone cute, but ultimately what attracts me to a person is his personality. I was lucky to realize that the few physical traits that attracted me to him would stay.

So, there was my package... complete. But then, why was I still having doubts?

I've mentioned my pet name for Tasha before (well, it's not the actual one). It was not until only a few months ago that I started asking myself what that name meant to me. In a nutshell, that name was a personality. Just like on my list, these items of psyche were gender neutral. If what really mattered to me was that I would not lose my Bubbow, and if my Bubbow had no gender definition, then what was the problem?

This is where I am now.

So, I continue to read about so many partners who end up leaving. Some leave in the beginning, some during transition and some after transition is complete. There are two major reasons why this happens... at whatever period. Either the physical aspect of the partner means more than the personality or there was something wrong with the partnership/marriage before this ever came up.

For the former, it's not unusual to be highly sexual and if this is the case and a person is a definite heterosexual, then I can totally understand not wanting to be with the transitioning person. Non-transitioning people don't just switch sexual orientation. I don't buy the mid-life swinging door. Either you are or you aren't and either you admit to it or you don't.

For the latter, I also understand when this is just the last straw. What I don't understand is blaming the split-up on the TS and not the real issue. It is my guess that this is what happens most often. Personally, I think most people get married for the wrong reasons and to people the don't really have a connection to anyway, so when something big like this comes along, the partner has the perfect excuse to get out and place the blame on the TS. It is this latter group that I suspect is the larger of the two and is the main audience for this particular entry.

Why did you marry your spouse/start a relationship with your partner? Was he or she your soul mate? Did you feel that connection? If you say, "I thought I did," then you really didn't. I'm sorry, but if you really know yourself and you listen to your instincts, you really do know and you aren't mistaken. That isn't to say that there can be extenuating circumstances that cause a breakup, but even after it's over, if that person really is a soul mate, you continue to admit it but also move on.

Why did you marry your spouse? Did you have any doubts? Did any little red flags go up while you were dating that you chose to ignore?

Do you believe that if things don't work out, there's always divorce?

Did you marry your spouse because he or she was everything you hoped for? Did you make a list and cast a spell? Did you pray for him or her?

When your partner told you that he/she was TS and needed to change genders, what were you afraid of? For me, I thought about our kids. I wasn't sure how it would affect them. I still don't know if there will be adverse reactions in the future when they enter puberty and such, but I have been assured several times by professionals that children most often are influenced most heavily by the reaction of the non-transitioning partner. In this case, it was me. Since I never argued with Tasha about it, because I never blamed her (it is NOT their fault, by the way. It's not like anyone with half a brain would CHOOSE to do this to themselves), because no matter how I was feeling I supported her, our children do not see her TS as something "wrong" or "bad." I suspect that if the kids had been much older when this started, there might have been more to it than that, but still, kids tend to react to their parents' reactions.

Were you afraid of what your friends or neighbors or community might think? That's a valid concern, but in the end, what really matters? Is a friend a true friend if he/she shuns you for something you can't help? What could your neighbors possibly do to you? Not talk to you? Will your church excommunicate you? What about that... If you accept your spouse because you love him/her, would you really want to be a member of a community that preaches love but with conditions?

What about your family? I ask: did your family marry your spouse, or did you? Were you afraid that they would no longer speak to you or perhaps even your children? If that did happen, I ask: what does that say about your family?

Were you afraid that you would lose your job? Well, that's against the law, so you'd have a giant settlement. If you were afraid that your spouse would lose his/her job, that's definitely justified. Hopefully, you and your spouse discussed this and have a plan. It's hard in this economic climate. Trust me: I know. We don't even know if our little two-year plan will work because if I can't find a job with benefits (or our new little baking business doesn't take off enough to provide benefits), then Tasha can't leave her job and begin to live full-time.

One really amazing thing that comes with being a partner of a TS is that both of you must face certain realities. You get to learn who your true friends are. You begin to understand your own levels of strength or weakness and those of your family members. You are suddenly faced with having to analyze the true nature of your relationship with your partner. Even if you choose to leave, you have revealed something about yourself. Are you running from a stressful situation? Are you going to be friends? Will you still support his/her transition? Do you hate him/her for doing this?

Many people leave because they find the situation very stressful, which it definitely is. But I want to say again that you discover under not uncertain terms what kind of person you are. When you get married, the idea is that you have chosen to be with this person no matter what comes at you and this is key: transsexualism COMES AT YOU. It happens TO someone. No one chooses it. It's not like your partner cheated on you or has a gambling or drinking or drug habit. These things are CHOSEN. When you are married, things that happen TO you are supposed to be dealt with together. Choosing to stay has not been easy sometimes, but when I chose to marry, I did not make that choice lightly.

Did you?

Not every couple that decides to end the relationship does so from a malicious or insensitive place. I am certain that, if I find myself unable to stay married to Tasha, I will continue to love her as my soul mate and I will want her in my life as much as possible. I would never blame her for any of it. Yet, there are so many couples whose relationships end in fire and brimstone and hatred and blame. Partners must realize that someone who is transsexual really can't stay in a body that doesn't match the brain's gender. They might try... for decades... but notice the sadness... it's there... and they are staying that way either because they can't afford the transition or some other extenuating circumstance, or they're doing it for you, the partner, because you value your own happiness more.

Have you read all you could about transsexualism? Do you know the difference between it and being transgendered? Do you know what Gender Identity Disorder is? Do you know about the politics surrounding this issue, both within and without the TS and LGBT communities? Have you seen a therapist who knows about this stuff? Have you done EVERYTHING YOU POSSIBLY CAN to understand what's going on?

If you have, then I ask: If you are thinking of ending the relationship, what are your true reasons for doing so? Are they really the truth? Are they really based on sound reasoning?

Just like the TS community, we spouses are also not alone. The more we share our experiences with others, the less alone we will feel. We will be armed with even more information with which to choose our next steps. If you really do love your spouse, but are simply angry with what is happening, you can be angry, but be angry at the situation, not at the person who brings it to the table. Remember that he or she is having as hard a time as we are, only in a different way. Remember to TALK about your feelings and be willing to listen and to ask questions. And also, if you don't think you are handling this as well as you thought you would, before making any decisions you might regret, don't be afraid to go outside of your marriage or friendships for professional help. To ask for help is to show STRENGTH, not weakness. Weak people run; strong people fight and seek support. If, after you have tried your best, you find that it is best to end the relationship, do so with open eyes. Use your strength to rebuild for the both of you; don't be weak and hide away from your past.

You owe it to yourself and to your family (especially if you have kids) to look closely at your life to discover what really drives you and your decision-making. Know that every move you make defines you and sets an example for your children, family and friends. Even though the transition process is about your partner, YOU are the true hub of the wheel. Your actions determine the future at least as much, if not more.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Integrity Well Placed

Have you read this blog post?

It's an elegantly phrased call-to-attention for all transfolk about the fact that, as weak as many may feel, what all trans people have in common is their "integrity." She says this because in order to allow oneself to go through with the transition, one must be willing to give up everything.

This is a true statement, I think, especially for adult trans people. Kids don't have as much, if anything, to lose.

What I first thought about after reading this blog was, "Does this apply to ALL trans people?" I mean, from my understanding, only transsexuals have that overwhelming urge to transition, even if they don't. Those who are called "transgendered" occupy many positions on the gender identity spectrum, but none are medically diagnosed with a gender dysphoria that can only be cured with gender reassignment. To me, how anyone else "comes out" or doesn't is a choice that is not necessarily absolutely necessary.

Okay, so let's say I'm wrong and that anyone who considers him/herself a "trans person" risks losing everything if he/she tells the secret. Why is this "integrity"?

Integrity has two major definitions: honor and wholeness. At first glance, I questioned its usage here because from my experience with Natasha, her decision to tell me and everyone else was not because she needed to be honest but because she couldn't stand not doing anything about it anymore. Yes, after a while, she would say that she couldn't stand the "lying" to people, but truthfully, was it the lying that was so painful or the hiding? They're not the same. For transsexuals in particular, there is a NEED to transition. If one doesn't start the process, then one must live with the constant pain of denial. Even during the process, just waiting for each step is... painful. So, is telling everyone... stepping out of the darkness and into the light... an honest move or is it a move to stop the pain?

Having thought that, I reminded myself that coming out can cause its own kind of pain: that of loss and segregation. This was the point of the article, after all. But again, if you have a giant axe in your leg and if you pull it out you'll bleed a ton but you'll survive, whereas if you leave it in, you'll slowly die of blood loss and infection, which choice do you make?

What about "wholeness"? That's like the integrity of a ship's hull. Without it, the ship would sink. In that respect, I think "integrity" is what trans people are looking for. Part of that search is letting people in so that any rebuilding of a person's foundation of support can take place. Telling people and risking their rejection of you enables you to continue forward towards wholeness.


There needs to be a tremendous willingness to sacrifice meaningful relationships and other things in your life when you come out as a trans person. I'm just saying that I'm not sure it's "integrity" that moves a person to do it. I'm arguing semantics. :-)

I think a better word is: courage.

Courage means bravery: a willingness to face fears or pain or danger.

Why courage? Didn't I just say that I thought most trans folk NEED to come out? Yes, I did. You tell me if everything you NEEDED came easily. Did you just say, "I need this job" and you got it? NO! You had to work for it. You had to kiss somebody's butt or get that stupid degree or sit in traffic for two hours to get that job! What you NEED rarely comes to anyone without a fight and sisters (and brothers), you sure had to fight your way past your own fears to come out and say that you are who you are. You had to say to yourself, "As much as I need to do this, to make myself feel right, can I do it even if I lose everyone I love and everything I have? Is it THAT important?" You answered, yes, and so you gathered up your COURAGE to tell your loved ones, hoping so strongly that you were not wrong about their unconditional love for you.

And sometimes, you were wrong. But you did it anyway and you continued to move forward.

Natasha, my wonderful, funny esposa, you ARE courageous. You might not have all the strength you wish you could have, but you must be courageous to have stepped through the fire.

...Stay tuned. I have another post on the way wherein I will attack partners who leave because of a LACK of integrity and courage...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fears From the Outside

Now that everyone who needs to know about Natasha knows, and now that Natasha is getting some help to deal with her blue days, I have been able to return my attention more to the other things that I worry about in terms of the kind of world my children will inherit. These worries don't all stem far from transsexualism. In fact, TS is the epicenter of at least one. This is the big one at the moment.

Who is going to kill my spouse and children?

NPR reported today that the number of hate groups is on the rise. While this might be because of the economy and the blame-game of who's taking all the jobs and who's squatting in abandoned homes and such, the fact that we are Jewish and that my spouse is transsexual doesn't make me feel any safer... especially here in Phoenix, where you can't have a dog without paying for a license, but you can have a semi-automatic dangling in the breeze from your hip holster. In my time here, I have met only a small handful of people with whom I might leave my children for a short time (besides my parents and brother). Only two people, who are a couple with two kids, share perhaps 90% of our values (even though she likes the weather here!). They know about Natasha and accept her without reservation. They, by the way, are NOT native to Phoenix.

With everything that is happening in the Middle East (civil wars) and what's going on in Wisconsin (union abolition) and what happened in Tuscon (the shooting), I find myself wondering when the uprising is going to start in America. If we're still in Phoenix, we're screwed! Natasha is starting to look for work outside of teaching. In spite of certain protections in certain states against discrimination about transitioning folks, the person who isn't transitioning is still more likely to get the teaching job. We're thinking of ways to get ourselves moved into more liberal areas... California or Washington maybe (sorry, Vermont. You'll have to wait a little longer)... and into a more liberal line of work. It's a hard road, but for our and our children's sakes, it's safer for us to be somewhere else. Even then, there are people who still hate you for who you are or who your parent is.

I also have issues with the environment. I ask: What kind of air will my children breathe in the future? Will there be a livable environment on the planet in ten years? Will there be wild animals in a few years? Will America dissolve into smaller nation-states? When will the middle-class disappear entirely? Will they ever invent an anti-aging drug?... I could go on.

Every once in a while, I do still have those pangs of worry about having a lesbian spouse. As I drove around today, I noticed that my fingernails were getting a little long and I thought about what it would be like to see Natasha's hands with longer fingernails. It was kind of weird. On the other hand, I also looked at the Pyramid catalog email today and saw a really nice blouse that she would LOVE! So clearly, my worries of the physicality of the transition are not significant. I do, however, continue to worry about the "other." We were planning to write a book after Natasha's transition. We thought it would be beneficial to share our experiences... especially since I'm staying. But recently some woman came out into the public eye as a transsexual and her life is in tatters because of it (ask Natasha. I can't remember her name). As much as we want to help educate people about transsexualism, as much as we would like to help make this a condition that is defended 100% by the ACLU, we have our children, family and friends to think about.

In today's climate of growing intolerance and blame, I fear and distrust the "other" more and more. I feel like our house is a secret hiding place in the middle of a forest that belongs to the enemy.

Last October, there was a terrible hail storm here that spawned several tornadoes outside of Flagstaff. My parents, the kids, Natasha and I were in our minivan when the storm hit. My mother and I looked out into the sky and saw a green, rotating cloud. We didn't say anything aloud because the kids were already terrified of the hailstones pounding against the roof and windows, but we were waiting to see a twister drop down on us. Although it didn't happen, I had a feeling that we would see this kind of weather again next year. I still feel that we might just see a tornado here. Those of you reading this who have known me for a long time know how I feel about the weather and what will and will not kill me. I am afraid that if we are still here, the weather will punish me for not having gotten us out sooner: for not having tried hard enough to change our lives for the better. This is a true fear... and there is very little in this world that scares me. Notice that almost everything else I've written about here was a "worry"? This "fear" may seem pretty out-there, but the weather and I have a strange relationship. Since we moved here, we've noticed that our area of Phoenix is like a weather vortex. Most of the time, the rain and clouds skirt AROUND our area. You can see it happening. On the day of the hail, I had been talking about how much I disliked being in Phoenix and how much I wanted to figure a way out of it. That's when the vortex was breached in a BIG way. I'm putting two and two together here in a spiritual way. I might be wrong scientifically. It may have had NOTHING to do with me. The Northridge, California earthquake in 1994 may have had nothing to do with me, either, but I still think it was interesting that it happened after months of complaining that my career was stagnant while also not doing too much about it myself. Talk about a kick in the butt!!

Anyway, my point is that the vortex... my secret hiding place... is being threatened. I have this urge to take my family and run, but there is nowhere to go. We're stuck for now, until we open the right door. We're searching for that door, and we hope that it safely leads us to a better place (not just physical, you know). :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now, the Rain is Gone!

This weekend, in this beautiful yet overpriced snowy paradise called Snowmass, CO (it's near Aspen but not IN Aspen. Oooo!), Natasha toiled and troubled over telling her father and step-mother about herself. All day today... well, let's just say she was a mess. All that wonderful hot chocolate and fun rides up and down the ski slope in Skittle colored gondolas were wasted on her completely, try as she might to not have it so.

She was absolutely convinced that there was NO WAY her dad and step-mom would accept what she had to say. She said that, no matter what they SAID, they would FEEL disappointed in her. I asked her (knowing things as I do) if there was ANY chance that she could be wrong. Her answer was a resounding "no."


At long last, as the kids danced and flung themselves on a nearby sofa, she told them her story and... they accepted her without reservation.

I'm not going to write much more about this because y'all can get all the details from Natasha's blog. But I just wanted to say that I am truly sorry that so many of you folks do not have such understanding and accepting people in your lives. I can only wish that each of you have at least one person who loves you unconditionally. I am actually proud of Natasha's father, especially, for not only accepting her but also for saying aloud that he loves her no matter what. I've NEVER heard him say that he loved his son except for those "love you" conversation-ending toss-outs.

for all that has happened since I have known them - and there has been a LOT - they just earned back a bunch of points in my book. On one hand, I was not surprised at their reaction. I did have a feeling that they would be accepting. On the other, with these people, you just never know when you tally all of the other lame reactions they've had about Natasha's life choices. I'm glad they didn't prove me wrong.

...Now, let's see if they'll pay for the surgery! :-D

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Doubters and Non-Believers

The only people who don't know about Natasha at this moment are her father and step-mother and a few of our very distant friends (and, of course, most people here in town). This morning, I told my brother and sister-in-law. Before I tell you how they reacted, I need to explain what their faith is:

K and E are Messianic Jews. I'm sure you all know what a Jew is (without the horns and bag of gold around the neck, of course). Religiously speaking, Jews believe that there will be a second coming of a messiah. A Messianic Jew believes that Jesus will be that messiah. They are kosher, too, and observe the Sabbath (no cars or stuff from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. Yeah, I know. They sound kinda like Christians, what with the whole Jesus thing. That's for another blog. For now, you get the idea. In addition, K & E have refined their beliefs in certain ways. They object to homosexuality and abortions, for starters. In general, though, they are good people. They will always be there if their family needs them and, regardless of whether or not a person will end up in Hell for lack of faith, they will pray for you.

I was very unsure about how they would take this news. I had predicted that they would send their children out of earshot, and I figured that they would not change their feelings for me or our kids. I did think that they might tell me that Natasha would not be welcome in their home or at the rare family get-together. That didn't happen, though.

K and E were calm but clearly shaken. So far, no one has expected to hear that J was going to become Natasha. My brother took notes, since I started out by explaining that my spouse had Harry Benjamin Syndrome (not officially, but it's pretty much what's going on). I made sure that they understood this was a medical condition that affected gender, as opposed to a "sexual preference." What my brother focussed on, however, was my comment that neither of us want this to be happening.

He said: "If you don't want this to be happening, then you can't accept it." What he meant was that we should be willing to do WHATEVER we could to try to stop it from happening.

K and E have had back luck with the medical industry. E had been misdiagnosed for years, resulting in a lot of pain and stress, until they found out through their own research that she was allergic to gluten. My brother hoped that I would be willing to accept that doctors (and psychologists) don't always know everything and that, perhaps, there might be a cure out there that they don't yet know about.

My brother wants me to be open to their god... my god, technically, since I'm a Jew, too. If Natasha and I, or maybe just I, were willing to open up to the possibility of a higher power (we're atheists with some spirituality), the result might very well be an unexpected cure. He couldn't guarantee that, but with hope there is possibility.

So, I guess that went over well. I told him that I would consider it, but in my heart, I can not believe in something I don't believe in. :-)

I don't know how many people are still in denial. I do know that one of my brothers-in-law does not want this to be happening. I wouldn't call it denial because he talks about it rationally. I think he's still in something like a state of shock. He just found out that Natasha will, indeed, transition entirely and I think he thought she was going to try to live in limbo... or maybe he knew it would happen but not very soon (not that it will happen very soon unless you consider a few years to be soon).

In a way, I think that my brother-in-law is like my brother. Both understand what is happening and accept that this is a truth; yet, they also want to find a way to stop it from happening more than want to let everything progress. Trust me: I'm with them. I would MUCH rather someone find a way to "cure" transsexualism without the gender reassignment. If someone could discover how to reassign the brain to match the body, well, wouldn't that be preferred? Natasha says that at this point, she wouldn't want to go back. But would she really say no if, having not yet had GRS, she could stop taking hormones and her brain and body would align and her wife and children and friends and family would not have to continue through this process with her? This is not reality, though, and while I understand their desire to find another choice, I am not looking for it anymore. I accept reality as it is so that I can look into the future with a sense of certainty. I think that works better than looking into the future with a sense of uncertainty, at least about this. I think that would be too stressful, preventing me from fully embracing my spouse's new outer identity.

I love my brother and my brother-in-law for caring so much about me and my spouse. I love that they so very much want to find a better outcome for us. I wish they would stop looking for their own sakes. I don't think they will.