The Graduate

Recently in our forums, Nettie jokingly made a reference to the “Class of 2007” – meaning those who would be transitioning in 2007 – and in the context of our experience talking to people at IFGE, & in the light of a review of She’s Not the Man I Married someone sent me which criticized the book for not having an “ending,” I’ve been thinking recently that perhaps one of the most slippery aspects of the slippery slope is that transition provides an ending, and maybe even closure. The thing is: from what post-transition trans women tell me, that’s not necessarily true, but for anyone who’s been suffering all their lives with their trans feelings, it sure does seem like one hell of an attractive idea.

So while I very much tried to communicate in the new book that I may be waiting for the sound of a shoe that may never drop, folks don’t seem to understand that sometimes there isn’t so much of an “ending” as instead a “being finished.” But I also wonder if there’s anything that crossdressers or middle path types might do to accomplish more of a feeling of closure that transition brings trans women. I know CDI throws “debutante parties” – which seems like a great way to come out – which might work for plenty of CDs, especially since deb parties come with pretty party clothes. But what about middle path types? Do they send out a press release? Because no matter how many times we tell people that Betty is where she is, people persist in believing Betty will want to transition medically or legally or both. & You know, she might. She might in a year from now, & she might 10 years from now, or 20. But the whole idea of having other people tell you you’re not “done” until transition is a huge aggravation for us both.

8 Replies to “The Graduate”

  1. This might not be quite the ‘ending’ you were looking for, but it seems like a safer point to me, providing a little closure. I realized a few years back that I want to transition, but I don’t want a divorce, which would certainly come with transition. My wife and I truly love each other, but that would be to big a hurdle for her to overcome, and I accept that. We now have an arrangement that we are both reasonably comfortable with. The sense of closure for us is that we are finally buying a new house. This was something we have wanted to do since just before I came out to her, but we put it off to see if our relationship could survive. No sense in buying a bigger house only divorce quickly. I’m sure our friends and relatives thought we were just procrastinating. It was actually relationship testing and trust rebuilding. So, when our house goes on the market tomorrrow, it will also be a confirmation that we both expect our relationship to make it. Almost a renewal of vows.

    I get what you mean though Helen. I suspect that for some friends who know about this, the timeline will shift on their speculating about my transition. Like, maybe when the kids are X age, or maybe when the kids leave for college, or some other timepoint more distant. I do know that we aren’t thinking that way though. If we were planning to split, even at a distant point, we would have done it already.

  2. Helen,

    I recently went through a TG “mid-life crisis”, and found great relief in Lynn Conway’s description of “transition to transgender”. No surgery, no change in relationship with my wife and kids, but I can start to identify as I really feel!



  3. This calls for a Wizard of Oz solution. Each of us needs to decide for themselves when they are done, and then get a Diploma made up. (Or a class ring — oooh, jewelry!) Then when someone says you’re not done, you just tell them they’re wrong and show them the Diploma as proof.

  4. I think the thing that kept me happy and sane for the last three decades of our marriage was both of us realizing that I wasn’t transgendered, but rather bi-gendered. Up until that time, we were in an uncomfortable limbo, neither of us knowing whether I was going to opt for SRS. This realization brought a tremendous amount of mutual understanding and a large measure of closure. Eliminating the either-or thinking had a strange, empowering effect by finally opening up the channels of experience between what had once been warring parts of my mind and feelings. At the same time it diminished the powerful but confusing and compulsive allure of the ephemeral, exterior trappings of womanhood. I suspect this state of mind is more akin to the natural state of a genetic woman. Being one or the other makes others comfortable, being both made me more comfortable.

  5. I think a huge part of the problem is society. Trans is not a valid and respected identity YET. Outside of being a rock star it’s hard to feel good about being gender variant because all the validation you might find is coming from you not the world. I wouldn’t pay any attention to the criticism that “SNTMIM” doesn’t have an ending. People read books for drama cause we were all raised on novels, plays and movies so we crave that manufactured resolution. I like that your book is not resolved because it shouldn’t have to be the same way a trans persons life need not neccessarily be resolved with surgery. Indeed being trans is a life long adventure no matter what you do to your body. The only true way to resolve your transness and truly be “done” is to die. Then everything is resolved even your student loan!

  6. When I ‘officially’ came out at work and met with the chair of the LGBT network at work, one of the questions she asked me was “So, how far along in the process are you?” When I told her that I wasn’t transitioning, she gave a bit of a quizical look. For her, all transgender = transsexual and ultimately, we all transition. It took a minute for her to grok that I was a non-transsexual, non-transitioning, transperson comfortable presenting in a socially semi-transitioned / genderqueer way.

    For us middle-path types, perhaps the ‘closure’ comes in the form of self acceptance – when the ‘noise in our heads’ becomes manageable – when this is no longer an overriding concern in our lives — when we are able to relagate ‘trans’ to the status of just another aspect of our person. I feel closure in that I am able to simply get on with my life. No, its not perfect, but it is a far cry better than where I was.

    My closure is the ability to have what is – by most standards – a ‘normal’ life.


  7. You know H*… You have a point here.

    I started my transition so young. I think, not only young but so nieve it was beautiful! I don’t think I ever had this sense of ‘a begining and an end’. I had a sense of “I’m going to do this, be this person, be beautiful and true! Screw the rest of you!” (Oh I miss that rebellious spirit in me! Where has she gone!?)

    But you’re right. You know, I transitioned 8 years ago now. (fuck! I’m getting old!) My whole adult life has been lived as a transwoman. Not just “woman” but, transwoman. No prospects or desires for surgery. No thoughts that things would ‘continue’ or that they had ever ‘ended’.

    I remember being faced with this false dichotomy early on, that surgery meant ‘finality’ as though, an operation somehow signaled something final. And then I met a lot of post-op women in their late-20’s, still facing the same issues. Disclosing to partners (most of them lesbians! What a mess that quickly became! How transphobic the lesbian community can be towards post-op transwomen!).. I quickly realized, surgery was not a ‘safety’ that it did not allow me to be any more ‘Stealth’, and a google search, or a good back ground check could EASILY reveal that I was born male.

    I spent some time talking to Andrea James about this point. About ‘legal transitions’ and the joy of being born in a state with no law on what is required to get a ‘gender change’ (and a great judge who ordered the state to change my gender without surgery! Wow! How lucky!)

    It is frustrating! It is annoying! Those constant questions that somehow impose this “Are you happy (going to get the snip?)” or “Are you unhappy (stuck in ‘limbo’)” ….

    I somehow made the beauty of being trans, the beauty of being ‘inbetween’… and rejoicing in how rare it was to be happy with ‘inbetween’. 🙂 What joy! What bliss! What contentment!


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