A Clarification or Eight

I’m aware that publishing a brief interview with Christine Benvenuto has caused some chagrin, and my explanation for why I did so even more.

So I’d like to point out a few things:

  1. I was unaware, when I read Ms. Benvenuto’s book, that her ex was Joy Ladin, who has also written a book about her transition.
  2. I will be reading Ms. Ladin’s book and doing a brief interview with her, in future.
  3. I do not claim to know what “really” happened between them. No one does but them, and they don’t agree, so really: no one does.
  4. I would like to point out the phrase “despite transphobic tendencies” – which I used to describe Ms. Benvenuto’s book. Her transphobia is not lost on me, by any stretch. Some of the most vitriolic transphobia comes from ex spouses, specifically of trans women.
  5. That does provide an interesting problem, doesn’t it? Why is it that the ex partners of trans men don’t similarly explode with transphobia? Some do, no doubt. But not anywhere near the same, at least not from my perspective, and I know plenty of trans men and plenty of people who have been partnered to trans men who aren’t anymore.
  6. Suggesting that people who are going to need to transition, do so YOUNGER than they have historically, is not essentialism. I do not now and have never believed that all trans people need to, want to, or will transition, and many are very happy being something like crossdressers and not transitioned women, either. I respect any choice a person makes when dealing with transness, even the awful ones, to be honest. Transness in a deeply transphobic culture is a really difficult thing to manage.
  7. Do non transitioners need more support? Fuck yes. We all do. Therapists are still pathetically under-educated when it comes to dealing with holistic treatment for trans identities, much less support for partners and families and loved ones. Most gender therapists are only, if ever, prepared to deal with transitioners, and the rest of us are still left out in the cold. Good therapists – Ari Lev and Reid Vanderbergh come to mind – are aware of this sad state of affairs. Most are not.
  8. Finally, at long last, I’m going to reiterate that I found a lot of what Ms. Benventuo had to say about her ex offensive and difficult. It is not my story. Whether or not it is accurate, or The Truth (which is a thing I don’t believe exists, for those of you who are wondering) has nothing to do with it. The experience, as she told it, is very typical, whether or not it was true in her case. A lot of partners and former partners will find some kind of resonance, and so healing, in this book. And that’s again why I’m standing by having blurbed it and having interviewed her.

I’ll leave it there for now. There’s plenty more coming, I’m sure, as these pieces make their way through transland.