Friday, March 30, 2012

On Second Thought...

I'm not sure what's happening to me, but I've been having the strangest feeling in my gut about my involvement in the TS community as a spouse. I mentioned in my previous post that Tasha and I will be writing a memoir about her transition.

I'm having second thoughts.

A friend of ours wrote a beautiful note on FB about her appreciation for her spouse remaining by her side. It got me thinking back on several occasions when Tasha expressed gratitude to me for not abandoning her and for letting her pursue her cure. A thought hit me that felt very... smug... which made me then feel a bit uncomfortable, as I don't generally feel smug about anything (except how smart my kids are :-D). I didn't really feel smug, but the thought sounded like a smug thought, you know? I thought, "The reason Tasha is having an `easier' transition than most married TS folk is because of me."

That's the honest truth, and married TS folk who are having an easier time of it will say the same thing: if her spouse were not allowing this to happen and/or making a stink about it, her situation would be immensely bad. In fact, I think that most TS folk whose spouse did not stay will say the same thing. The wife (or husband) made the situation either better or worse than they already were... given the circumstances, that is.

Sounds smug to me. Unfortunately, it's true. Looking back over the last two plus years, I could finally see clearly that it was, in fact, that I "gave her permission" to transition. I remember when I wrote that here that somebody got all bothered by this concept, but too bad. That's the position Tasha put me in. She said that she would not do ANYTHING without my permission to do so. Had I not agreed to go along, she would have remained a man... and miserable. Boy, wonderful for the kids, right? Drugged into happiness? Not any better. What kind of a life is that? She had no death wish, so that would have been out of the question.  Sorry folks, but Tasha's happiness solely rested on my shoulders and THAT was what was killing me. I didn't want her to transition. No way! But look at my choices. Similar to the choices of any TS... to transition or not to transition... what a lousy question! I had but one decision because I loved her. And thus, I was miserable.

Poor me, right? Yes, and no. I made the decision to let her go ahead with it, not her. My decision, my bed to lie in. I don't regret it. It was the RIGHT decision.

Some people might say that Tasha put the ball in my court to take the blame off of herself. I don't see it that way. If she did not let me make the decisions, then she would have been acting selfishly. Sure, she might have decided on her own not to transition, but she would have decided for all of us to have a husband and father who was immensely miserable, not real and medicated. Again, good for the kids? Good for me? Nope. It is my opinion that those who made this statement above are people who have possibly never really experienced being married to their best friend: true partners. She told me what she wanted to do and then deferred to me to make final decisions.

So what am I getting at?

This feeling I've been having is something like anger. Whenever I hear about a wife who has left because of the TS situation, I get angry. What the hell? I start thinking, "What was it about your marriage that was screwed up before this that you never tried to fix and are now using this new event as a last straw?" What wife (or husband) who TRULY loves her husband would leave because of this? "Oh, I'm sorry dear, but I really love you beyond all measure... except that you're not going to have a penis anymore and, you know, that's more important to my happiness." Dude! Really?

I feel like there needs to be a voice in this community... a loud one... who is talking to the wives. I don't think a lot of wives really think this through enough, or they don't know where to start or how to start thinking through it. There is limited support for us. We can't turn to our husbands for support. Most of the world doesn't really even GET what TS is so information is often dodgy. It's up to us to help our spouses through this, and yes, we have to be strong. Most of us are not bisexual or closet lesbians (sad, I know, right?). Are there therapists out there who are experts in dealing with the spouse's side of transition? I haven't seen one. I think it's a shame that so many marriages end because of this. I have no sympathy for spouses who leave because of this (unless there is deliberate deceit involved) and I think that there needs to be someone who's been there and done that do get up and say, "You'd better not walk out that door until you know FOR SURE that's the right decision, or you'll be damaging more lives than you realize and it will be too late. And don't be stupid!"

I'm angry.

So, instead of writing the memoir, I'm going to write a book for the spouses. Maybe a guide. Something strictly for spouses of TS folk: not for cross-dressing. No offense, but it's different.

I could have said that and just left the rest out, but I had to vent. Thanks for reading, even if you disagree. :-D

Thursday, March 29, 2012

In the News

Natasha and I decided several months ago that we would write a dual memoir about her transition. We thought it would be helpful to both TS and partners of TS. We plan to start it in the next couple of months, after I finish a screenplay I will enter into the Nichol Fellowship competition. It's also generally about a couple who are dealing with transition. Who knows...

About two weeks ago, I was contacted via email by a PA on the Dr. Oz show. They wanted to do an episode about MTFs and their wives. I must have spent an hour or so with the PA, and I explained a lot about the condition that she was not aware of. I also warned her about the pitfalls of sensationalizing it... like showing before and after photos. She also spoke with Natasha and both of us refused to have our kids on the show. Lo and behold, today the episode aired. It was sensationalized... complete with TS folk to offer up their before and after pictures and older children who were willing to express their shock and dismay.

I'm a bit frustrated with this community. On the one hand, nobody wants to feel like a freak. They don't want to be stared at. They don't want to be mistaken for the wrong gender. Yet, some sell-outs got themselves some spotlight time at the expense of those same fears. You know what people who watched that show will see if they see those TS folk on the street? The BEFORE picture. Plus, now the spouses have a permanent reminder of the sensationalist view of their marriage. I don't have much hope for those couples.  Some, but not much.

So then, as a member of a tiny, closed FB group, someone posted this article: "Thematic Analysis of the Experiences of Wives Who Stay with Husbands who Transition Male-to-Female." Fantastic review of a study about this, based on a previously written book about it. Generally, I found that I could identify with what the wives in the study/book revealed, but not everything. It's a bit dry, I warn you, as it is a scholarly paper, but it's worth the read for both parties. It proves that this difficult and tumultuous road can be survived, and that a smoother road can be found ahead... provided that the wife truly, utterly loves the husband for "his/her" person.

Did Dr. Oz present that?... What do you think?

Is that important?...

It is to TS folk who are in relationships they do not want to end. That's not what the Oz show was about, though. He missed the mark... a quite dramatic mark, if I may say. He would have had his ratings, much like Oprah might have had if she had handled it... maybe... but not with sensationalist perspectives. Those TS folk who were on the show... well, I hope it was the editing that did the most damage. But they were the ones who offered up those photos: items that should be kept for one's own memories and not for prying eyes. So was it the spotlight that got them there? Were the spouses thinking clearly before deciding to tag along? Was it about love? Information? Support?

Not from my perspective.

Read the article. It's great!