Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still the Same

I find myself walking around the house, looking at everything. I comment, "It's all still where it is supposed to be." I see my children's rooms, the kitchen, the dogs and cats: "Yep. Still the same." The bills are the same. The dust is the same. The pictures are the same. The DVD collection is the same.

The only thing that's changed is my spouse's gender.

That's it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Double Offense

I had been meaning to write about one particular subject that has been bugging me lately, but with the coming of the new family members and the continuing stuff of my everyday, I lost the time until now (of course, the baby could wake up at any moment and her mommy is not here right now). What prompted me to go ahead and at least start this post was Natasha's latest comment about the "old fashioned" remarks about TS flight attendants.

I read a lot of blogs and articles about what it's like to be TS, the politics of being TS, the process of transitioning, etcetera, and I came to the conclusion long ago that life is pretty freaking hard being TS. Whether or not one's immediate friends and family accept this change rather than shunning her/him; whether or not the TS knew right away rather than keeping it a secret; whether or not the total transition took months instead of decades, being TS is quite possibly one of the worst ways to live until it's all done.

I am 100% on the side of all GID folk when it comes to equality in all facets of life. I hate the insensitivity the world has for "difference," and I simply can not comprehend how cruel people can be to one another and to all life. Whereas Natasha wrote about those I fondly refer to as "the others," I wanted to write about those within the GID community who seem to have some kind of superiority complex like "the others."

I have read repeatedly, and Natasha has been hurt repeatedly, by so many TS folk who chastise those who can't or don't transition immediately. It's as if these people have somehow either forgotten what it was like to have to live in the wrong body or had the blessed opportunity to transition without delay or reproach from their loved ones and so have no sympathy.

The worst thing about what's gong on with Natasha right now is that she is fighting so hard to find a middle ground to get her through the years (unless somebody wins the lottery) before she can fully transition. The fact of her limbo, and consequently my limbo, is not of her own choosing. It is an absolute necessity. She's lucky in that she can come home or go shopping as Natasha without worry; for so long she lived like a lot of TS folk who tried to live in both worlds happily for the sake of their loved ones. Natasha doesn't have to do that anymore, but she does have to do it so that she can keep her job. Believe it or not, there are places in the world, like Arizona, where you can indeed be fired if a parent finds out and is "uncomfortable" about it, regardless of whether or not a person is presenting.

A person with GID who is diagnosed as being TS can, in fact, CHOOSE not to transition. Unlike a TG person, that choice becomes immensely painful sooner or later. Yet, some fight it and continue in their "natural" bodies... all for the sake of keeping their marriage, children, job secure and happy. At some point, it might become unbearable and all too often, that person chooses to end his or her life. Without blaming anyone here - since everyone's situations are different - what we can say for certain is that the person's choice not to transition does not make him or her any less a "true" Transsexual. Anyone who dares to make that claim is simply not a "true" human being in the spiritual sense of the term.

The definition of Transsexual does not include the fact of transitioning. It does say that the person has a strong desire to transition into the matching body. What one does with that desire does not diminish the truth of the situation in any way, and to say that it does just shows that even within a small community such as this, there are people who are as heartless, selfish and judgmental as anywhere else. The truth is that not everyone is as lucky as those who get what they need right away. The truth is that not everyone has health insurance that will cover the procedure or the cash lying around to pay out of pocket. Perhaps those that do have that kind of money should start a foundation for those who do not so that people like my... esposa (I'll write about that later)... can complete the transition without delay (well, as soon as she doesn't have to be a public school teacher to help pay the bills anymore).

Instead of fracturing the community with useless superiority complexes over who has transitioned and who has not or can't, this community in particular needs to unite so that everyone here can get what they need. Truthfully, I don't have much faith in humanity; I have seen a lot throughout my life to support my view. But come on! We're talking about a small but growing group of people in serious need of help that it is not getting. I have seen humanitarian acts, mainly in times of crisis. All of you who have not yet fully transitioned are in a CONSTANT state of crisis. Those who have made it to the other side should be holding your hands out to help pull through those who are still suffering.

In-fighting solves nothing. All it does is make those stuck in purgatory feel that much more alone and hurt.

You are doing it to Natasha, which means you're dong it to me. I don't take kindly to those who hurt my family.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Keep Moving Forward

Every once in a while, I realize just how tired I am. As I write this, it s about 6:00 AM and as much as I'm yawning, I can't sleep. I spent the night watching my flight tracker for Natasha's plane to take off to Atlanta, then waiting to hear that she landed, then that she found her sister. On top of this, I've had a sore throat and cough for nearly a week that keeps me up sometimes (The doctor thinks it's a virus, which can't be treated with medicine).

But I'm not actually talking about sleep-deprivation tired. I'm used to that. I'm talking about mental exhaustion.

A few months ago, my dad said to me in reference to working things out with Natasha's transsexualism that he didn't know how I was coping so well. I've been through heaps of poopy situations throughout my life, and no matter what, I've somehow come out the other side without losing my sanity. He said to me that if he were going through all of this, he probably would have killed himself. My dad doesn't joke about those things. He's one of those people with a plan should he become so "useless" that he considers himself a burden not worth carrying. But he's really a strong person. So is my mother. I don't think they give themselves much credit in that department, but I had to have learned it from someone.

So lately, my emotional strength has been tried not by my own doubts about Natasha and myself - I'm mostly clear on the idea that we'll be together forever with more rarely occurring moments of having to remind myself why this is possible - but by Natasha's dysphoria caused mostly by her need to be Mr. Teacher five days a week. As crazy as she can act as Theatre Teacher, she can not let slip her gender secret. Not here in this state, and especially not in the part of the city where the school is located.

I get so frustrated when she gets so depressed about having to hide. She gets those "I hate my penis" moments more often, too. The fact that she doesn't like that extremity anymore isn't the issue: it's the depression that I can't cure. She tells me that I help just by being there, but honestly that's not enough for me. When someone you love is just plain sad and teary and you can't do much more than sit there and watch, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. This concept is one of the things that just stumps me when it comes to these partners who blame the transfolk for "doing this" to their relationship. This is also one of the things that stumps me when I read other transfolk lay into those who can not transition because of obligations. Not everyone is in a situation where they can admit the issue and then dive right in to transition. For both the blaming partner and the black-or-white transfolk, there seems to be a lack of sympathy for someone who is just trying to do her or his best in a situation he or she did not cause intentionally.

And then last Thursday, two days ago, we find out that Natasha's half-sister was nearly strangled by her husband. She has a baby girl by this guy, too, and she had no where to turn. She reached out for help on Facebook and Natasha answered. Without much hesitation, knowing that we were the only people who could possibly offer her and her daughter a chance at a stable, happy life, we offered her a place in our home. Can you imagine: not even her mother was willing to help because her boyfriend was coming over! It wouldn't work with her living there, anyway. Mother is a major reason why A is who she is today. A hasn't had the most stellar record as a person, either. She has never done anything to us, but she's had the emotional issues of a generally unloved, pooped on by her parents, young woman. Her soul is good, though, and she recognized the urgency of getting her daughter and herself to safety. That's a huge step in the right direction and we believe that she can finally learn how to be a loving, trustworthy being and great mom if she's just given a chance.

But it's going to be difficult. While Natasha drives across the country, having long talks with A about her new life, Mom is going to watch the kids while Dad and I move my office into another part of the house and build a solid - albeit temporary - wall for some soundproofing (I teach online from home). We're giving A and her daughter the office/den so they can have some privacy. Our privacy, however, will be a bit less. Already, we are spending money we really should not be to prepare for their arrival and stay. A's mother should be paying for these things, but again, she's a lousy mother (Mother has plenty of money). The thing that is tiring my mind most, though, is having to lay down the law for A. I am wishing to the Universe that my concerns (based on years of evidence) for my family and their safety are unnecessary, but as I said, she has a reputation that she will have to overcome. She knows this, I'm sure, and if she doesn't now, she will by the time they arrive in a couple of days.

Yesterday, I realized that I'm very tired.

My dad asked me again how it is that I'm handling all of this so calmly. I told him what I've been telling my students for the past fourteen years when they have contacted me with reasons why their work was late or non-existent: Just keep moving forward. If you don't, you stall, and that's when situations become overwhelming. Moving forward does not mean avoiding the situation. You can't unless you run away. What moving forward means is as things happen, accept that they have happened, acknowledge that you have new or additional parameters within which you must live, and continue forward with your life under those new/altered conditions. Sounds too "logical"? Trust me: I am highly emotional. That's why it works. Have your emotions about a situation, make a decision based on those emotions (and, hopefully, a bunch of objectivity too), and move forward.

Here I go! I'm taking a step forward... into the kitchen for a dose of caffeine.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm Gay for My Husband... I Guess

So, one of my little worries, that I know for certain lay in the minds of many heterosexual spouses whose partners come out as transsexual, was that because I had no iota of sexual attraction toward other women, how in the world could I possibly remain attracted to my husband when she became a girl?

I went through this scenario with Natasha. I could not bear to live without my other half, but how could I stand to live with her as a "roommate," since that's how it would have to be, right?

For most people, we are born with a natural tendency to find certain physical characteristics appealing in a mate. I've said before (I think) that I don't consider myself a materialistic person and that I love people based on who they are, not what they look like. Yet, when faced with Natasha, I seriously had to think about whether or not this was really true.

It's not totally true.

I definitely prefer taller people. I'm 5'8".
I don't particularly like facial hair.
My partner MUST be able to throw me over his (her) shoulder and carry me around (don't ask).

That's pretty much it.

Natasha... as a male... met all three of these requirements (except that when I gained too much weight, I wouldn't let him throw me over his shoulder). I am confident that, once I have lost the weight (working hard!), Natasha will be able to do it again, although we have a Bowflex just sitting there and she refuses to use it! Bother her, ladies! Get her to get tone!!! :-)

While my list is very short, for many people, having a penis on the partner is a physical trait that is very important. Having a "manly" body is important. We can't help how we feel about these things. For partners whose physical requirements list is long and contains male-specific (or female-specific if you a heterosexual guy) items, what else is there to do but end the marriage and hope to find a male who floats your boat as much as your husband did when she was a guy.

Okay. So say your physical traits list is not gender-specific like mine. The fact remains that no where on the rest of my list of requirements did it say, "Someone with a female brain." Leave it to the universe to find the loopholes! Is male or female really that important?

It can be if intercourse is important to you.

Was the marriage based on sex? If not, how much does sex factor in on your relationship?

If intercourse is important, like you do it lots and you love to do it lots, then it might be time to set up a roommate situation or one of you needs to move out. Nobody wants their ex as a roommate when you're opening your door for a date! This was an idea that drove me nuts! When I was thinking about how we might end our marriage and knew that she and I would have to live together for the foreseeable future because of finances, I felt sick. Not that I was even thinking about looking for another partner, but seriously, that's just plain heartbreaking!

And that's the big problem. Here you are, a heterosexual person, suddenly faced with the fact that you are totally in love with your partner but can't even fathom spooning! It's literally gut-wrenching!

I forced myself to analyze my list and found that my physical requirements were not compromised. Yes, I found it hard at first to watch my husband grow breasts and lose muscle mass in places and gain fat in other places (woman fat, not fat fat). I started to chant a mantra whenever her appearance started to wrench my gut. "I love my Bubbow. I love my Bubbow. I love my Bubbow." Bubbow does not have a gender, you see. Bubbow is a personality: an inner core: a soul. We are soul mates. Souls don't have genders.

Can all partners find a chant to get them to see the truth of the gender situation? I would love to think so. How many of them are married to their true soul mates? Those that are owe it to the relationship to take that genderless pet name for the partner and remind themselves continuously how much love there is.

Gender is the core issue here, as we all know. So does the fact that I remain in love with my Bubbow mean that I have conceded to being gay? My husband, as it turned out, was a lesbian, after all!


With all hope nothing ever happens to Natasha, should I find myself open to another relationship, I will not seek other women. I could have done that already a few times. No, I am a heterosexual woman. I don't love Natasha because she is a woman, I love her because she is still my Bubbow. And the sex? Like I said, if intercourse is important, there will be a problem. Perhaps she is lucky that I've had a "whatever" attitude about intercourse for most of my life. I have definitely enjoyed it, but honestly, it's never been about intercourse. Note, please, that I keep saying "intercourse." That's specific to penetration.

Ask a hundred women and a large portion of them will tell you that penetration doesn't really do it for them unless there's other stuff going on at the same time.

Intercourse, as it turns out, isn't a priority for the success of our relationship. Most happily married couples will say the same. But is "sex" is something a person likes, well... there's all kinds of toys and things out there. Those shops wouldn't be everywhere if they were only visited by homosexuals and "deviants"! So many customers are heterosexual couples, darn it!

What about going out in public? Partners need to ask themselves if they care because of what OTHERS MIGHT THINK or because they are embarrassed. Why should someone be embarrassed? Who cares what others think? Will your life be destroyed if a stranger thinks you're a lesbo? Will you be chastised openly if your partner still has that "male" quality under the makeup? Maybe it's because you're jealous that your husband is hotter than you (I had to say that... Natasha!). Seriously though, if a partner hangs out with people of the same gender publicly, what is the difference? Women in most cultures hold each others' hands in public anyway. I've even seen it here in the U.S. between friends. Even so, being gay is "in" right now. Unless you live in a conservative, homophobic city, nobody's going to give a lick what you're doing in public as long as it's not breaking the law or scaring their children.

In our everyday lives, Natasha and I are a married couple: typical in most aspects. We have two awesome kids, lots of pets, friends, jobs. We have a ton of likes and dislikes in common. I'm still processing everything. I have my days where I still recite the mantra; yet, they come less often because I am getting used to her and I am constantly involved with her transition. Because I love her I want her to be happy. My own happiness, it seems, does not conflict with that (especially once she understood that speaking at a higher pitch just didn't suit her frame :-D).

I'm not gay. I am in love forever with a soul.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

That Whole... Talking... Thing

Most people, from my experience, do not like to deal with stressful situations. We all handle stress differently, invoking the fight-or-flight response in an infinite number of ways. While we all have some kind of stress at home... standard stuff like finances, troubled children, aging parents, lousy job... most of the time it's stuff we can handle. The big stuff... cheating, having another family somewhere, being secretly gay, being transsexual... these are things that we generally don't ever think we will have to face. We trust our partners, after all.

I don't think most people trust their partners, anyway. How many people do you know who got married because it seemed like the thing to do? Maybe a child was on the way or since the couple had been together for so long, they gave in to pressure - either internal or external. Maybe they got married because they loved each other at the moment. How many of us really do trust our partners? Do we find ourselves second-guessing why she came home late or had to work late, or why he ended up going to lunch "with friends from work" when he said he was planning to work straight through lunch? Do we feel that little sigh of relief when that little voice in our heads are proven wrong? I know lots of people hear it. So many are just waiting for that one reason to believe that their marriage is no longer as good as it was the day they were married. Look at the divorce statistics and try to claim that this isn't true.

When a partner comes out and says that he or she is a transsexual, it is REALLY the last thing a partner expects to hear. There is no way to prepare for that kind of news. Natasha had been "cross-dressing" for about two years before she came out, but I still hadn't suspected. I trusted. My trust was compromised in that instant she told me. So, why didn't I kick her out?

Had she... he... said that he had cheated on me, out he would have gone with not a second thought.

In that moment when she told me, I had no thoughts except to ask what happens next. I did not think immediately that I should leave or that she should leave. I certainly contemplated it when she was going whole-hog on the valley girl behavior, but that was later. When my brain cleared, what I knew was that my husband had not cheated. He had not lied. He had not DONE anything TO me. This was happening to both of us. My husband was born with something... a birth defect.

We kept talking. We talked a lot. It was horribly painful for over a year. Every time we talked about it, I cried. She cried. Our son was old enough to know that something was wrong on my end and he actually comforted me once or twice. He worried. But we continued to talk. This was two-way communication. She told me what she needed, even if that changed from day to day, and I told her what I needed, and that changed over time.

So, when a partner finds out about something as "unbelievable" as this and then is excluded from the process, what do you think might happen?

I know that lots of partners don't want to deal with it. Their fight-or-flight says, "Shut up or I'm outta here." The fact is that if you don't talk about it, the partner WILL leave. Most don't want to understand what is happening, if only because they are in such shock. If you, the transsexual, honestly had been trying to "rid" yourselves of your dysphoria, if you truly BELIEVED that you had "let go" forever those feelings, then your partner can not blame you for "doing this" to the marriage. That causes conflicting emotions. Now, if you were just trying to hide your transsexualism and just couldn't do it anymore, well... it's your fault for lying to your partner, but I have found that this is rarely the case, so I'm not going down that road any further. For everyone else, you have a partner that does not understand what your "condition" means. All you have said is, "I want to be a woman (or man)." So?! What the heck does that MEAN? You start dressing the part and are on HRT, so they see the changes, but you have not actually INCLUDED your parter in the process... even if he or she said to go ahead. "Go ahead," is two words long. It's not hard to say even if you don't mean it or aren't really listening.

If your partner is not being responsive to your attempts to talk about it, you still have to make them talk about it. My advice is to corner them... figuratively. Ask, "Do you love me?" If the answer is no, whether or not she/he means it, you have an answer and can move on without remorse. If, however, the answer is yes, then you have the upper hand. Your immediate response should be, "Then you owe it to me and to this marriage (relationship) to understand what i'm going through." Ask if he/she really wants to end this marriage based on something never explored. Remind hin/her that you are scared out of your wits and that you need him/her to understand that you DID NOT CHOOSE THIS. Make it clear that you know your partner must be in a lot of emotional pain and that you are immensely sorry that you are the cause of the pain, but also that you would take that pain away if you could... but you CAN'T. You are both suffering and you need each other. If there is love between you then remaining in denial (your partner) will only make things worse.

Also, if you are not talking as much as you should be, you owe it to your partner to STOP doing what you are doing until there is some kind of resolution. If YOU, the transsexual, truly love your partner, then you can not force this on them. It is as difficult for you to be going trough this as it is for your partner to know that it is happening. You are not communicating well if you continue on your path as if you were alone.

The bottom line is that your partner will never be okay with you transitioning if you don't include him/her in the process. Still, your relationship might come to an end; however, it would be so much better for everyone if it ended with you two being friends rather than enemies. If your partner is the one that is resisting communicating about it, you must do whatever you can with all the love in your heart to make him/her talk. If it is you who is too afraid to broach the subject and face the raw emotions you invoke, then you are doing a disservice to the one you love.

Marriage, as they say, is a two-way street. One person can end it, but only two people can keep it together.