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.

39 comments:

Ariel said...

That's a tough on, Marni. You're right that your friend N is in an extreme situation (and what a Kafkaesque nightmare that must be), but every trans partner goes through some kind of changes that she did not ask for and does not really deserve.

I have expressed before my hope that more and more transsexual people realize their situation when they are young and unattached, because when you're older and married, then you really can't act as though you are young and single. Or shouldn't. We know that some do.

I don't know if my partner blames me for the changes she has been forced to go through (whether she had stayed or not, there would have been unchosen changes). I don't think so, but if she did, I couldn't blame her.

I feel guilty that I did not tell her everything up front. She might have taken it no more seriously than I did at the time, but then at least she would have been properly warned. I think it's unfair to spring this on a partner at any point during the relationship. I understand well that we TS reach a breaking point, but it's still unfair.

I actually believe that when someone has a partner and/or offspring, sucking it up and learning to live with it is the right thing to do. I couldn't do the right thing. I tried but failed. For me, it has worked out well, but that never makes it right. I hope it works out well for you and your family as well. Sometimes we have to go with what works, not with what is right. Real life is messier than ideals.

I certainly hope N can find someone to help her.

Caroline said...

This has an interesting point, at what stage did O become legally female?

In the UK if someone like me transitions while married we stay married and I am unable to gain a change of birth certificate
unless the marriage is dissolved and all befits accrued like pension vanish and we would have to hand a fortune to lawyers to do this! We could then go through a civil partnership which does not confer exactly the same benefits as the marriage did, there is a very small window of opportunity to get this to work seamlessly. the government got messed by religious lobbyists to foul this legislation up and then they refused to fix it when they realised what a mess they had made. our new government has not been in a rush to fix it either...

So we will be a legally married female couple in a country where at present two females cannot marry!

Kay & Sarah said...

Somewhere in all of this mess, there seems to be a double standard as far as a marriage goes. I have a legal marriage, fully recognized by the government in that we pay our taxes at the 'married' status.

I wonder if the government's decision is based on the fact that the 'wife' is British, and not the fact that "O" is American?

Marni said...

@Ariel, This is the thing I struggle with. Natasha has not taken one step forward with any stage of the transition without my "permission," yet I gave that permission because I saw how miserable she was. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to stop being angry around the kids. I wanted her to stop having melt-downs in our living room. Had I at all chosen what I wanted, she would probably be on some kind of strong anti-depressant and still angry and miserable. So, it was my choice for her not to "suck it up," but then, I think she knew what I would do and say. She kept saying that she knew I would get over my fears and find that I could be happy with her transition. I can't say that I am, but I am happy about her change in emotional state. As to her telling me sooner, I believe her when she says that she had buried the idea by the time we met, but had she told me about her even considering it when she was younger, I don't think we would be married. I would have pushed her to look at it again. And then... we have two amazing children whom I could not possibly picture my world without. Does everything happen for a reason?

@Caroline, I don't know the answer to your question. It's the same case here in the US. Natasha and I were married legally, so they can't dissolve our marriage. This should be true for N and O, but for some reason, immigration doesn't agree.

@Kate & Sarah, I think the government is being stupid. :-)

Anne said...

Marni. I am very much in agreement with Ariel on this that this is indeed and exceedingly difficult question.

To take note, as you have that had Natasha told you earlier, prior to your marriage, "I don't think we would be married. I would have pushed her to look at it again"...is to beg the question...
What do you do now?

From my perscective, AS A TOTAL OUTSIDER, with absolutely NO experience in these or similar matters, I can only look at the existing consequences or conditions.

What is see is te proverbial "rock and a hardspot with you the children and Natasha, all stuck in the middle. What makes me uncomfortable is this idea of "permission" in that it makes YOU responsible for Natasha's actions.

This is ths classic position of an "enabler". Add to that the less than positive consequences for everybody involved of a break-up in the formof a divorce.

I hate to say this as it is not a pleasant concept, but it could easily be argued that you have been played. Now that you are stuck, with the "option" of making it work,(for the love of Natasha and the kids), or a potentially more painful "choice" of separating.

I mean, what kind of a "choice" is this? " I gave that permission because I saw how miserable she was. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to stop being angry around the kids. I wanted her to stop having melt-downs in our living room. Had I at all chosen what I wanted, she would probably be on some kind of strong anti-depressant and still angry and miserable."

And speaking of "Choices", I am not sure that I can agree with you that a TS has a "choice" as to whether or not to address their "issue". Now because this is a Major issue and there are "degrees" of intensity I feelit would help to at least TRY to clarify my position on this.

It is rather lengthy so I will contiue it in Pt. 2.

Ariel said...

You wrote: She kept saying that she knew I would get over my fears and find that I could be happy with her transition.

That's interesting. I had no such confidence. My partner had liked my androgyny. She had even been kind of an enabler when she thought it was about "dressing." But when I told her what I realized I had to do, I had no expectations that she would be happy with that. As it turns out, she actually is. She's happy that I'm a better person and a better partner, of course, but I think she actually happy with how things turned out, which is pretty amazing to me.

I'm not a "things happen for a reason" person. I'm more a "shit happens" person. But sometimes good stuff happens, and sometimes we turn bad stuff into good stuff. Clearly your children are a blessing to both of you.

Anne said...

Harry Benjamin talks about this in his book, "The Transsexual Phenomenon". If, as it appears, Natasha does in fact suffer from some degree of transsexualism, then we can thankfully and for purposes of simplicity, toss out all of what I like to refer to Pseudo-psycho/social-gender babble, (IE neo-post modernism "Gender Theory), and simply agree that Natasha is in fact some "type" of transsexual.

Now here is the really simple part. Type V and Type VI simply DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. That is why there are so very very few of us around. MOST OF US DID NOT SURVIVE. We either died by our own hand,or were killed by drugs, alchohol or mayhem.

Today, your Type V's and VI's get help early and our survival rate is much higher then it was in the past. Your Types I's, II's and III's are able to make "accomodations" in their lives that allow them to survive relatively unscathed and with the severe psychic trauma so evident in your classic Type IV.

Natasha represents to me your "Classic" Type IV in that her level of intensity allowed her to repress her need for as long as she did. For me Type IV transsexualism represents the cruelest and most virulent form and hence the most visable and without question equally in need of the most compassionate and APPROPRIATE of care.

In Natasha's case it allowed her to repress/deny/and just generally AVOID and bury the issue in any way possible until she ended up where she is today with a wife and family.

So DID she have a choice? If the question of "choice" addresses whether or not to come clean and tell you the truth about her "condition", I would argue YES, she did. She should have told you.

That being "water under the bridge", the next question is did she have a "choice" to transition NOW, I would have to say NO, she did not. Like Ariel and so many other "later in life transitioners", my uneducated guess based on my very limited experience in reading these blogs, is that these folks are doing what they need to do to survive...."anyway they can". Plain and Simple. I am sorry that I cannot offer you more.

Kay & Sarah said...

To Anne:, I am sorry to inject comments, as this discussion was intended to be among spouses, but as the 'trans' member of a strong marriage. I am taking issue with your comments about Marni and you say it "makes me uncomfortable is this idea of "permission" in that it makes YOU responsible for Natasha's actions.".

Marni and Natasha's is stronger today because Marni recognized Natasha's need to be who she was. By both agreeing to support each other, talking to each other, recognizing each other needs, wants, and desires to hold their marriage together because of the strong love each has for the other; they recognize each others permission and dual responsibility to maintain the love and commitment they made to each other soul mates in for the long haul.

Anne said...

Permission implies power, so perhaps "permission" was a poor choice of words.

In a relationship thera all all sorts of interpersonal dynamics involved. It seems o me that the more lasting relationships are those wherein a balance r equilibrium has been achieved.

I am not so sure that "love conquers all". In many cases people stay together as a matter of convenience.

I can address this further, but at the moment "duty calls".

Anonymous said...

Personally, I blame Anne.

If early transitioners like Anne publicly "came out" in the Media long ago while folks like Natasha were in diapers or pull-ups, the Transsexual world today would be much different. It was not until the late 90s that there were any other trans-people within internet reach. This and positive or neutral Media coverage has meant EVERYTHING in the younger MTFs and FTMS understanding themselves and the likely inevitablility of their condition. All you have to do is hang out in a larger city with a decent LGBT population today and you'll see many of the young'ns out and unafraid.

I wish to God that people like Natasha, myself and many others had more examples of what was possible in changing our lives and genders when we were young. We didn't and without this, we all just KNEW that we would end up alone, homeless, hopeless or worse. How many attempts or considerations of suicide are enough to prove this to the seasoned citizens of the first trans generation?

I do want to say (especially if she read this far) that I don't really blame Anne for any of this. However, for her and many others of her generation not to consider the effects of their "cloistered stealthiness" as a contributor to the following generation not being able to follow in their high-heels is kind of funny to me. I wouldn't want them to have risked their lives, etc. to "come out" in a big way, but seriously, how can you criticize anyone else? I had ONE person in the early days tell me not to get married. She was untransitioned, more likely, a probable transvestite and an alcoholic. But, I had NO ONE to compare her too. Except what I saw on daytime talk shows and Tula. Not exactly helpful to help a teenager or 20-something ahead of time. The times are alot different, don't you agree?

Best to Everyone,

Karin

Anne said...

Oh Dear! "All MY Fault"??? Pul-eeese! Maybe I should have been there to change your diapers as well. Sorry Karin, but here is a little eensie weensie, teenie weenie secret.

There was nobody there to show us they way either. Either you were not around or lived on another planet in 1977 when "Renee" Richards splashed his way across WORLD WIDE television.

The fact that YOU Karin, and so many others like you are still following the false flag of TG "victimhood" is for me simply a testament to your own personal lack of conviction and inability to accept responsibiity for your own actions or IN-actions.

Anonymous said...

Uh Anne...

Please re-read the last paragraph.

Yes, you are right that you had no one ahead of you... except TA-DA... CHRISTINE JORGENSEN IN 1953! 1977-1953= 24 years before R.R. So, your argument is a bit muted with that fact. BTW, I never wrote about being a victim. You would like to see it that way, but that is your own view. Frankly, for you to claim so little experience in reading blogs like Natasha's is a red herring. You've been on the internet reading blogs for a long time and know what's what. I and many others respect your life experience as best we know it, from what you have provided. However, you do seem that you are President of an exclusive club that doesn't want to admit other people. Good. I never asked for membership. Did you ask for membership? Not likely. So, please remember that going forward before judging others.

I wish you the best,

Karin

Anonymous said...

Marni,

Sorry for monopolizing your blog comments here. That was not what I intended, let alone letting myself get flared-off at Anne. My fault, not hers.

Thanks for what you write and share with us. It is a help to me and my wife, trust me.

Best,

Karin

Anne said...

Karin. I have absolutely NO IDEA just what you are prattling on about, but I do understand that you do have some disagreemnet with what I have written in terms of Marni's feelings of resentment and or reciprical quilt involving Natasha's alleged "choice" to transition. I do not see transition as a choice. No one in their right minds "chooses" to change their morphological sex unless they absolute MUST in order to stay alive. YES. It is that drop dead serious.

That you and others like refuse to take responsibiity for your own failure to act and then try to lay the "blame" at the feet of others is beyond ludicrous to the point of pathological denial.

Prior to your (IMHO), "goofball" commentary, (YES...That is my judgement/opinion), this discussion was about the difficulty of a STRAIGHT , heterosexual woman, who married a MAN and bore his children, having to deal with that man, her husband, the father of her children, suddenly BLINDSIDING her with the revelation that "NO, I am not a Man, I am really a woman".

Only a totally self-centered egotist cannot grasp the monumental adjustment that a woman would have to make in her life to "make that work" for her. For you to derail ths discussion to just to pick some petty bone with me just reflects that selfishness. So let me be blunt. BACK THE F**K OFF.

I hope the rest of you will excuse my "French".

"TA-DA... CHRISTINE JORGENSEN IN 1953! 1977-1953= 24 years before R.R. So, your argument is a bit muted with that fact" ~Karin

ROFLMAO!!! I was 6 years old in 1953 and I am not even sure TV had even been invented. PUL-EEESE!! You are making my sides hurt. I learned about Ms. Jorgensen in 1964when I first gained access to a University Library and found TWO references. The other was Lily Elbe 1938.

Teagan said...

I don't know how much of a difference it makes, even telling someone early on. It didn't in my case, anyway. Quite literally, the first thing I told the woman I ended up marrying about myself when we met, was that I thought I might be a woman and I was trying to sort through it all. She was accepting and even participated in nights where we'd hang out together as women. At the time, we both thought it would be enough.

We divorced for reasons unrelated to gender-anything, although my dysphoria certainly exacerbated things. My personal realization of who I was and what I had to do came subsequent to that.

My transition still impacts her, of course, as we have two young children. She blames herself, because she knew from the get-go, and she blames me, for not completely figuring it out sooner. The fact that I told her helps a little bit with any guilt, but still.

One thing I've always wondered about, tangential to this blog, is how many husbands stay with their FTM spouses. I suspect very, very few.

Kay & Sarah said...

Anne,
Go back to the library and do some more research on the TV, I think you will find it was a fact long before 1953.

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

@K&a; Sarah...Is when TV was invented REALLY the issue? Is "who to blame", really the issue,or the question?

Perhaps the question might be HOW or WHY did folks like you or Teagan, or Marni or so many countless others END-UP where you are now. My GUESS is that the "reasons" would vary BUT that there more than likely are some measurable similarities.

Perhaps a better question might be how might others LEARN from your actions or in-actions.

You see from my perspective, you, Ariel and to some degree, Teagan have reached some workable solution/equilibrium that seems to "work", although Teagan still has a struggle involving her children. Marni and Natasha on the other hand are still struggling to attain this "solution/equilibrium" that "works" for everyone involved. Perhaps you might find some help, here.....http://thetransgentlewife.blogspot.com/2011/09/with-ordinary-talent-and-extraordinary.html

They have my very best wishes.

Marni said...

Ladies,

I know that you all have disagreements about who is or isn't what they claim to be... who "fits" the profile, and I am well aware of Benjamin's continuum, but no matter how strong the pull of instinct may be, I maintain that all people are capable of choice. I'm sorry, but I don't care how much temptation or drive a person has, no matter how loud the voices in one's head are, nobody has NO CHOICE.

I will not comment on everything. I don't think I need to. What I will say is that I wouldn't consider anyone's denial of who they are a "failure."

Anne, you were lucky. Most others are not. You were in the right place at the right time. No one should feel guilty for trying to move through their lives with a few waves as possible, trying to maintain some kind of happiness in their environment, among those they love. This is why there is a choice. We all don't live in a vacuum.

Teagan said...

It's ironic that you tell us that we had a choice while commenting on the same post in which you wrote these words:

"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."

Heh.

Sure you had a choice. You could have told her no, don't transition, and allowed her to be miserable, continue to effect your children, and perhaps end up committing suicide someday.

Some choice, huh?

Now try being the one who might have ended up dead, leaving two children. I won't speak for Natasha because she's got a little different perspective than I do, but don't you dare tell me that I had a choice. Don't you dare.

Anne said...

Thank you, Teagan. I agree, the "choice" is no choice at all. I asked a similar question here...

"I mean, what kind of a "choice" is this? " I gave that permission because I saw how miserable she was. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to stop being angry around the kids. I wanted her to stop having melt-downs in our living room. Had I at all chosen what I wanted, she would probably be on some kind of strong anti-depressant and still angry and miserable."

The "choice" being (A)an insufferable husband and father who is angry and on the constant verge of a melt down, (B) a divorce, or (C) a "trans"-spouse.

Not much of a choice....

Ariel said...

"Some choice, huh?" "Not much of a choice."

I agree with both of those. I had only one good choice, and that was to fix what needed fixing. But I could have made poor choices, as I had made earlier in life, especially to self-medicate (you can endure a lot of pain with good drugs). I am fully responsible for having made the right choice.

There are people who have no choice in what they do, and someone alluded to them, either here or elsewhere. Those are people who are mentally ill. They can't be held responsible for their actions. Their brains are broken.

Despite the DSM-IV, I never had a mental illness. I had a physical condition that caused extreme psychological distress. But not mental illness. I never lost my capacity for choice. I just knew there was only one choice that would really deal with my condition.

If that means I was "nae real transsexual," then so be it. I don't care. My life now is what counts to me.

If someone wants to say they had no choice, that's up to them. If they are really saying that they had only one good choice, then I agree.

As for Marni saying she had no choice, I consider that a figure of speech. I think she meant that other choices were much worse.

Teagan said...

Sophie had a choice, too.

Ya know, the more I look back at some of the words written in this blog entry, they're literally the same words I've heard from my X... "I don't have to do anything now."

I used to get that from her on an almost daily basis. These days, at least I don't have to hear it from her since we're in a legal battle over custody because of my "choice."

I don't need to hear it elsewhere. I'm out.

Abby said...

Can I ask Marni, do you personally know many other people born Transsexual? People other than your spouse?

I'm curious to know how it is you managed the conclusion that "the TS never really MUST do something" IE as has been said here, "it's a choice"....

Sounds like a pretty big sort of a generaliseation to me, I might like to say that seeing as how you are in a relationship with a woman, you are a lesbian. That is the general consensus, that two women= lesbians.

Is that how you see things, or am I just (incorrectly?) going off my own experiences and assumptions.

Natasha MAY have had a choice, but tell me, back when you were in your twenties, could you have chosen to loose all your Worldly possessions, have all your loved ones abandon you, get into a position whereby you might struggle to maintain gainful employment and therefore the ability to keep a roof over your head, clothes on your back and even eat?

We are truly psychopaths aren't we, that's the life we'd "choose" for ourselves.

And what for?...

Just to have what you where "lucky" enough to have been born with.

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

As I wrote at the very beginning of thread, This is indeed and exceeding difficult issue and is one for Marni to resolve asbest she can...just as we all had to do at one or more points in our lives.

I think that we are all aware that this is NOT a "pissing contest" to determine who is "right" or how we define "choice". What I have offered are some observations based on my own LIMITED and relatively unrelated experience.

I can speak to my own experience, but I cannot speak to Marni's nor Natasha's. It is their lives and the lives of their children so it is THEIR call. Having said that, I would defer to both Ariel and Teagan as their "experience" bears a greater relavence than mine.

My sincerest hope is that Marni and Natasha can work through these issues so that anger, guilt and resentment DO NOT exacerbate and already difficult situation.

Again, you both have my very best wishes for a successful resolution.

Anonymous said...

Marni, you don't know me (as far as I know) and i am certainly not going to reveal who I am in commenting here. I transitioned several decades ago and after a couple of failed relationships have now successfully married and been so for a long time. If my husband came to me and declared he was transvestite never mind transsexual and seeking to transition. I would have thrown him out faster than you could say "Sex Change". That said as a woman I understand why you didn't do that. Your original question of "Who is to blame" for the current issues you face with Natasha's transition and your trying to "hold the family together" (it's what we do) Is simply a matter of choice at every stage of life and in every day we live we make free choices whether it is simply a matter of what we eat for breakfast or the more serious choices we make concerning our lives.

Every one of the choices we make ultimately carry consequences and it is the consequences of choices both you and your husband have made, both together and separately. The answer to the the question "Who is to blame" is that you both are. Him for transitioning and for not telling you before you married (if that was indeed the case)and you for participating in his transition irrespective of your reasons for doing so. The real issue is whether or how you live with the choice you made not to throw him out on his ear as soon as he came out to you. Which incidentally is the choice I would have made. I honestly don't know how you cope and you have my admiration and sympathy. I hope you are able to live with your "choice"

Natasha said...

Anonymous commenter person - I usually like to stay out of Marni's posts, but I did want to clarify that I had no reasonable expectation other than the fact that Marni is my best friend that she would not, indeed, throw me out on my proverbial ear. But she has proven to be the friend to me that I needed most of all. Fortunately for me, she is not you. I actually kind of feel badly for you that your marriage is not based, at its core, on the kind of deep friendship and support that ours is. That you, who should be sympathetic, would be ready to injure his ear.

As for the question of the post. Who is to blame? If blame must be placed, then it there is no question in my mind that it belongs to me. I know I feel the guilt of it in some manner every day, and not because Marni asks me to. I suppose as a Jew, it is my natural tendency to feel guilt. But I've earned it. I violated the basic trust Marni had in our relationship that I was a man and I know this far more than you can understand, not having been in my position.

But here's the thing. With all my guilt, I still can't come anywhere close to loathing myself as much as I did before. I'm a better parent to my children because I am present in their lives and I am not plagued by either crippling depressions or near-uncontrollable rages. I am a better spouse because I have been shedding the vestigial male role and I am more of a partner in everything.

But what I am not, nor can ever be again, is her husband. And that is a painful truth. I can never be Daddy to my kids in that fundamental male way again. A very painful truth. And it is my fault. I am to blame. If Marni's to blame for anything, I'm not sure what that would be. You say it is for participating in my transition. Is that something to be blamed for? She should have tossed me out to avoid blame then? Okay. Whatever. I still question her if this is what she wants and I would leave if it was her true desire for me to do so. At this point, she says it is not, so I happily get to stay, still bearing the guilt of my transgressions.

So it goes.

Kay & Sarah said...

And, so it goes!!

Anne said...

"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" ~Marni

BIG, no HUGE mistake! Based on FALSE premise..."technically, the TS is not forced to make any changes at any point"


TECHNICALLY????? Again we have someone with NO DIRECT KNOWLEDGE or experience...defining the "problem" to suit their own needs.

NOT GOOD

Marni said...

You know what, Anne, I have gladly welcomed your opinion here on my blog, and I understand clearly that this is a highly charged topic. But really, you're pushing too hard in the absolute wrong direction. I am really getting tired of you making assumptions about what I could or could not possibly even fathom in the remotest part of my imagination. And while I cannot begin to try to put myself in the shoes of any TS, I'm just a bit put off by your constant reply of some unfounded claim that I am not at all capable of empathy on any level and that I am completely clueless about what I'm saying. The fact is that I'm not creating definitions of logical concepts and pulling them out of my butt. I'm terribly sorry, Anne, but I just does not matter if we're talking about a TS, someone with MS, someone born with blond hair or green eyes. You are the one inflaming this conversation to a point where everyone reading your responses can see clearly that you are looking through your own personal lenses of dread, guilt, fear and hatred. You and a few others here are just like some members of pretty much all of the other marginalized groups of human beings who claim that no one can POSSIBLY understand their pain because you have to have gone through it and so you "others" just need to back off and let me complain. African Americans did it, Jews did it, and now I see that some TS folk do it, too. Whereas I was simply saying what the rational folks reading this understand, which is that going through transition is NOT like being held down and raped. There is NO force in the universe dragging you, kicking and screaming, down to the surgeon's office to have your penis or your vagina turned inside out! No one forced you to do anything, Anne. No single person except YOU brought you to the therapist, to the doctors, made you put the pills down your throat, wear the dresses and shoes. NO ONE BUT YOU. Now get over it, for goodness' sake. Some day, you might actually admit that even people in your OWN MARGINALIZED GROUP have opinions other than your own, experiences other than yours, THE RIGHT TO BE CALLED WHAT THEY WISH TO BE CALLED. Kathryn has the right to her own opinion and view of what it's like to be a TS, as does Natasha. I have the right to see any situation in a LOGICAL way instead of an emotional way, and that I believe is your problem. You revealed, graciously I might add... thank you... that you had a horrible experience shortly after transitioning, but it was not the transition that caused it. It was not the "curse" of being TS that caused those men to be like primitive beasts and do what they did to you. Your free will may have been overpowered then, and you actually called yourself insane at the moment when death really was an option, but your free will is what scheduled you and everyone else to make every decision regarding how you handled the knowledge of your TS situation.

If you can't explain your point of view without accusing everyone who opposes you of not having any ability to make sense, then I can't have you here, and I feel badly about that because you generally bring some great talking points with you when you visit.

Anne said...

I get it Marni. I really DO understand. I think what YOU need to understand is that the source of the angst, the emotion, is not me.

Please try to understand that I do very much empathize with your situation in trying to hold your family together. I understand that that is your CHOICE.

I said this before...this is a difficult situation that YOU are in, not me. While you might "fathom in your imagination" what being TS *MIGHT* be like, and you DO 'empathise', you do not have a visceral, "having walked in ur shoes", understanding of what this condition entails. Thus your insistance on "free wiil" or "chice". Yours is NOT the only valid defintion of choice

Yes I "chose" to take a HUGE risk, betting my LIFE and my future to, as you so vulgarly put it, "to have your penis or your vagina turned inside out!" However, I made that choice to save my life. I was lucky, I survived.

However, having not just survived, but having lived a very happy and rewarding life for more than 40 years since those darkest of days, I can only suggest to you that it is YOU who must now struggle through your own, "personal lenses of dread, guilt, fear and hatred".

I come in peace, Marni. I can leave in peace as well, having offered you my very best. And just to be clear, the only individual I suggested might NOT be making sense is "KM" whose phenomenological arguments are BASED on "A philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness.

In other words, KM sees things ONLY in terms of his/her PERSONAL and INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS and NOT in relation to ACTUALLY REALITY. So yes, while KM is "entitled" to his/her point of view, I am "privilged" to NOT see it his/her way.

Abby said...

I promise I'll learn not to offer my thoughts were they aren't productive, very soon.

"which is that going through transition is NOT like being held down and raped."-marni

I agree, going through transition is not like that.

I would say that life prior to transition is absolutely like that.

The entire world forces it's will on you, every minute you interact with another human. YOU ARE A GIRL! But the entire world forces you to be something you aren't simply based on what they see of your physicality. Until you do something about it, your free will is taken from you, just like if you where being sexually assaulted. So there are your options, lay there and take it or end it.

And you know, it's all very supportive here and on sites like this, but in the back of our minds, we know that you don't recognize us as women.

You do exactly what the rest of the world has done to us our entire lives, you just don't say it, you play along, and you smile to our faces.

And that is why we don't tell people, that is why we aren't "out" because if you don't know, then you don't have that power, for once in our life we get to keep it. For once in our life, we get the right to our own free will.

I mean no malice by this comment, it's never my intention to insult or offend, I'm simply trying to convey my own message which it seems is very different to most out there.

I still think that loved ones are often unspoken victims and that is unfair.

The fact is that when ACTUAL transsexualism is involved, there are NO winners. EVERYONE looses. It's cruel and people can only be "blamed" for how they deal with it.

Natasha said...

Abby - Please explain what ACTUAL transsexualism is and how you can choose which of us is real and which is fake. Is there a test? How about the COGIATI? I can do math and parallel park, so am I out? I'd love to know what gives anyone the right to make that particular designation.

I will simply say this to your comment about "sites like this." Marni isn't writing it for you or me or any other transperson. We're here because we're interested in her perspective. But she's writing it for partners and spouses and herself. You don't have to come if you feel that she is judging you.

Abby said...

Hi Natasha,

I did have quite the comment composed to respond to you, but in truth, the only purpose I can see it serving is starting a pointless argument, upsetting people, and getting me labled with some pretty nasty things and that is not at all what I want.

I respect that Marni does write this for others in her position and it is not a place for me to do that, and really I shouldn't do that kind of thing anyway, it serves no purpose to me or anyone else.

in reality, I cannot possibly fathom what it is to do this for you both, and so I shouldn't speak of things I don't undrerstand.

I wish you both the very best, and I appologise if I have taken away from the post or discussion in anyway.

Marni said...

@Abby and Anne, to the both of you, I have said before... many times... that clearly there will be no agreement on several concepts like choice and free will and such, mainly because of the emotionality of the situation. This is why I said that I'm not going to discuss it anymore. You say I can't possibly understand. Fine. Believe that if you want to. It's probably the truth. I say, I don't have to understand in order to see a logical, unemotional view that makes me see being a TS much like any other traumatic, marginalizing, wedge-driving situation. You two especially, it seems, think that I'm completely wrong. You can think that. I don't mind. But Abby, I am not like most people. Anyone who knows me knows that (and you don't really know me so I don't expect that you'd know that). I see Natasha as a woman. Completely. I have met several folk from your community and I don't see them as the gender they were or continue to escape from. It is BECAUSE I see Natasha as a woman that I have the stress of the situation. If I still saw her as a man and simply paid her lip service and gave a friendly smile, as Abby you apparently have been exposed to, then our marriage would be in a heap of trouble unlike anything I've ever known.

@Anne, I'm not the one with the problem that has caused me to see TS the way I have expressed in these last couple of posts. My issue with you is that, despite your claim that you have had a happy life since, which I'm sure you have, you seem to bring with you to these blogs a certain sense of elitism and superiority that I frankly don't think you deserve. Because everyone's experiences are unique, even in the TS community, no one person should be so bold as to claim in any metaphorical way that she or he had a worse experience, a more special experience, a more complicated or desperate experience than anyone else. Heck even among the TS community, there are many who agree with my recent blogs. Does that mean that they are wrong? Are they any more wrong than your perspective or experience? No. And as a spouse, as Natasha pointed out, I'm going to tell you like it is from my perspective, even if I'm wrong from your's.

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

Thank You for your heartfelt response. Again I GET IT.

I think that you MIGHT be getting the wrong message from me in that I have never claimed to "BE" any more "special" than the next woman on the street. I might be more attractive (or less), I might be a better dancer, (or not). That does not make me better as a person. I GET THAT.

I do not even claim to possess a "better" perspective, or a more "learned" understanding of what "being born TS is all about". I just have MY OWN personal perspective.

I DO believe that you are deceiving yourself if you truly believe that you "see a logical, unemotional view", and that it allows you to,"see being a TS much like any other traumatic, marginalizing, wedge-driving situation".

In truth of FACT it is NOT. It is only perceived and experienced that way because that is the TeeGee perspective. AGAIN that ubitquitous CONFLATION

I view and try to understand and relate to the world from the only perspective that I have, MINE. While I might TRY to see and understand it from yours, that is just not possible as I am not you.
The same applies to the inverse.

Oh...and here is a NEWSFLASH for YA...THERE IS NO TS "COMMUNITY". Men and woman who MUST correct their congenital birth defects SEEK MEDICAL HELP. They avoid trannieville as much as is humanly possible.

Sadly, that is where most are drawn as a result of that suductive syren song so well played by the "activists/enablers" of the LGBTg/Gay Inc.

My guess is that "those members of the TG communty that ARE agreeing with you are in fact Trans-genders in that they have NOT changed their SEX for all those tired reasons. Bt then that is just an educated GUESS.

Abby said...

Marni, please accept my humble apology, you are right, I don't know you, and it is unfair and wrong of me to assume I know how or what you think.

I would ask a favor of you and anyone who might read this, and that is that you speak specifically about the people in your situation rather than make generalized statements about what people perceive as a particular group of people.

Instead of saying "the TS never really HAS to do something" say "Natasha never really HAD to do anything".

I am no more "the same" as Natasha, than you are "the same" as me or every other person in the world.

Again, you both sincerely have my best wishes.

Abby