That Salon Piece

Posted by – October 28, 2011

Since what I’ve written here has now been commented on elsewhere, I will write more about the experience of loss when you’re the loved one of a trans person.

Y’all are going to force me to write another book, you know?

Honestly, you’d think being an ally for umpteen years would enable someone to come up with something a little better than “she blames the dad too.” I don’t. I blame the un-critical use of trans narratives that don’t account for the actual loss experienced by the loved ones of trans people – the loss especially experienced by those of us who stick by you through transition.

So I’ll say more, since I am also actually in mourning, and goddamn do I know the difference between the loss that comes with transition & the loss that comes with an actual death.

7 Comments on That Salon Piece

  1. Donna says:

    Thanks for this, Helen.

    Donna

  2. Helen,
    To quote Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain” You feeling of loss and grieving for what once was. That same one both you and the author have experienced in your relations with your loved ones is very real and it should be respected by those who caused it! Yes they too have had a difficult time of it and transition is far from an easy thing but that said there is collateral damage beyond themselves! You in fact did loose your husband just as she lost her father! That you both stood by them though this hard time does not mitigate the depth of that loss one iota!

    I don’t know if you noticed or not but of the sixty some Salon comments, with the exception of only one, all the trans respondents blithely skipped right on past the daughters very real grief to make it all about them them them!

    The real irony in that this is not a new thing. I have seen that same thing expressed again and again over the last two decades and always with the same exception being those who knew from the get go they were born wrong(read transsexual) and who set it to right early and moved on to be just women!

    I think this part of the reason why the whole spectrum concept to be a terrible disservice to all it touches. It forcefully pairs all these once men who have later adopted trans-identities so they can have their gender cake and privilege too, with the women who do everything possible to shed the wrongness and that unwanted privilege

    You have been a good wife and then dome to Betty and I do hope that one day she may come to see this as a woman would and support you in your grieving!

  3. Betty says:

    Miz-Know-It-All,

    I am acutely aware of Helen’s loss in my transition. Thanks.

    Betty

  4. saranl says:

    I, for one, have caused enough pain. I will never ask my girls to call me anything other that what they are comfortable with. And if that’s Dad, then so be it.

    I also know the difference, though, between losing someone to death and to transition. I buried one of my children and I made the decision to let him die. The difference between the two kinds of “death” is quite different. On that you can rest assured.

    Sara …

  5. saranl says:

    The difference between the two kinds of “death” is quite marked. Sorry.

  6. sean says:

    Sometimes I look at your blog and read your book and think how lucky you both are to still love each other. And other times I read and look at your pictures and see the pain.

    I haven’t transitioned because I don’t want to cause that pain, but I don’t know how long I can go on.

    I didn’t know when I got married I was going to feel like this. I read lots. I thought I was just a cross dresser. I didn’t expect it to get worse. I have a very strong male personality to go along with my underdeveloped but obviously strong female one. I’m not talking multiple personality disorder, just two sides of one person.

    so it may well be that people change after transition. but it’s not impossible that that father might think she would be the same essential person.

    sometimes i feel very bad about having these feelings. but sometimes i think that if i were to transition the guilt would be a stronger motivator for suicide than not transitioning.

    i fear aging and regretting not being a woman and i also fear changing and not being the man i could have been.

    my wife thinks i lied to her. but i honestly didn’t know. it’s not so far fetched to me this person didn’t know either.

    i wish someone could make me normal. then i could never have to feel this weight.

    we get told there’s no cure for this. but then people hate us anyway. no matter what we do.

    thankyou for being someone so articulate and smart about all this.

    i keep looking for some smart solution to all this, but it just seems like it’s just one day at a time.

    this post hurts, but then i guess that’s what everyone is feeling here on either side of the discussion.

  7. helenboyd says:

    Sean

    Thank you. For seeing the pain and the love.

    I’m sorry it’s so hard. I wish it weren’t. I wish it was easier on all of us.

    You didn’t lie. Betty didn’t lie. The father didn’t lie. Who could ever possibly understand this thing? The depths of it, the breadth of gender. You tell as much as you can as you know it – that’s really all any of us can do.

    Love to you (both). Treat yourself with as much kindness as you can.

    helen

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