It’s Not About Her Ex: A Trans Partner’s Story

My friend M. is a woman who was assaulted by her ex. Her ex happens to be a woman, too, of trans history. When the news of what had happened broke, her story was drowned out by all of the people who only wanted to use their story as an ideological argument. They took the focus from the personal, intimate, terrifying crime that happened and put it instead on the identity of the person who was guilty of committing it.

Those of us who are partnered to trans people are used to this, to some degree. The trans person takes up all the space; they’re the ones people are interested in, who people go out of their way to validate or compliment or criticize. We disappear.

My friend needed to press charges, to see justice of some kind, to let her children know that they should never let a lover treat them like this no matter who the person is or the “reason” for it. Instead, reports about the crime disappeared her, the victim, and so the very tiniest thing I could do to help was give her a platform to tell her story.

I am embarrassed and ashamed that my fellow feminists and others have made this about everyone but the person it should have been about, and who effectively forced by friend to speak up as a trans ally instead of being able to focus on her own healing.

So here’s what she had to say:

TO all of the people who deny the personhood and womanhood of trans women,

I am the woman who was victimized by my former spouse. She recently pled guilty to two misdemeanors for domestic violence. The news about her crime has been commented on by people for whom her trans status and her genitals seem to be of utmost importance, and who want to use my ex as a way to somehow “prove” that she’s really a man and in turn that her bad behavior somehow means that all trans women are “really” men (and that all men are, in turn, incorrigibly violent and likely to rape).

My own voice has been drowned out in all this, so I wanted to say a few words.

You are so focused on history and the genitals of the person who violated me. It’s literally the loudest conversation out there, drowning out the actual victim’s story – MY STORY. It is also, GROSSLY missing the point. I’m calling you a “hate group” because your anger regarding the violence against women perpetrated by men has so taken over your brain that your hairtrigger hatred automatically pounces on ANY OPPORTUNITY to denounce trans women as men, and to denounce men for how horrible they are.

My case is not about the genitals of my wife. Her chromosomal structure and genital configuration and that she was assigned male at birth have got NOTHING TO DO with the sexual violation of my body. Why does it matter if she used her penis or even has one? WHO CARES?? You want so badly to create the “all men/penises are evil” platform, that you can’t see the anguish your comments cause me, the victim, and other victims of sexual abuse.

The CRIME here was not her gender configuration. What if she had XX chromosomes or a vagina? What if she had used a carrot? A bamboo plant? A fist, a dildo, or ANY OTHER BODY PART OR OBJECT? The CRIME was the sexual violation of my body by someone I loved, who was under the influence of alcohol. THAT should be the focus of this conversation, not the instrument used.

I’ve always supported my wife’s transition. I didn’t know her as a man for long, but it didn’t matter to me because I loved who she was and didn’t mind what form her body took: I knew that I would love her body forever. She was a gentle, sweet, vulnerable person. It’s one of the things I loved about her. She was the most considerate intimate partner I had ever had. She was a far cry from my previous marriage, where a cisgender male did indeed commit all the crimes you would attribute to a male abuser. He was all the horrible things without the alcohol.

I loved our intimate relationship. That’s what makes this crime particularly horrifying. It was something I LOVED. Something we BOTH loved. It wasn’t her genitals that caused the crime. Even during the assault, she was saying I was beautiful, over and over. She didn’t even know what she was doing. It was like she wasn’t THERE. She wasn’t angry or saying horrible things. On the contrary. But that was the real mind fuck. When I told her to stop and that we weren’t going to be doing that this time, and that she would regret it in the morning, she just said, “No I won’t”, like ‘don’t be silly’, and she didn’t stop. And she wouldn’t stop. And she kept hurting me. And hurting me. She was someone else then.

Because she would have never done this sober.

I am not saying that her addiction is an excuse, but I can’t ignore the horrible effects of it, either. Ask anyone who has had a DUI or done something else horrible while under the influence. The problem is when that usually wonderful person is dangerous when under the influence. They must be held accountable for their behavior. As far as I’m concerned, her crime began that night with her first drink.

In my case, I am deeply saddened that the LGBT and feminist communities have remained almost entirely silent about my experience. The intersectionality of this event SHOULD BE a conversation, and we should have it BECAUSE it makes us uncomfortable. Much easier to pretend it’s not there. Let’s just stay angry at all the men and people with penises! So much EASIER, RIGHT?

It’s disappointing that some people are unwilling or unable to do the emotional work it requires to process that someone they care about can be capable of something really awful. But from the experienced feminist and LGBT communities, I expected better.

The transphobic radical feminists and other transphobic people will continue to rage over the state of my wife’s genitals, and I can’t stop them. But I hope more intelligent and thoughtful people will rise to the occasion to steer the conversation to what really matters.

I want her to be accountable. I want this to never happen again. I want to forgive her. I want this story to be about forgiveness and redemption. I need it to be. I need others to let it be that, too – to be my story, my trauma, my choice, my agency.

Helen Boyd

is the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married.

5 Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I was so shocked to hear your news.

    You’re an eloquent speaker of justice, here, but I wish you didn’t have to be. You should be able to seek accountability for a crime against you without needing to confront the peanut gallery milking it for their own prejudiced agendas. But, as long as we’re on “should”, you should be safe in your own body, and alcoholism shouldn’t pull friends of mine into this pit.

    All of my best wishes and prayers. Miss you.

  2. Helen B

    Helen, I have seen some presentations of your personal life with your husband who became wife. Do not know what happened to you, but I sense that you are walking in a duel. I do not speak good English but has fascinated me yourself, especially your selfless love towards your partner. You have given generously love and I think it was like giving pearls to a pig. Forgive my bluntness, but I have gone through a more or less similar situation.

    I was married to a heterosexual, that throughout the relationship was holding up as homosexual. I had a veil on the eyes. No I wanted to see what was happening, the transformation to my ex everyday and cruelty which he lived. Wait So, 28 years for one day on January 1, I said that I wanted a divorce. And there was no turning back from that decision.

    The worst was to hear from his lips that left me still loving me, but I needed provarse himself that he could make an independent life, take care of yourself. Their reasons were half a truth, I never accept his homosexuality, although it was evident in his body, especially as it behaved. Somehow I’ve lived this duel you describe.

    I have a blog is written in Spanish. I would like to take out some time and will explore. If you are interested we can share information, ideas on this subject.

    Many hugs, Mary T. Rios Ramos
    http://www.casadacongay@wordpress.com
    casadacongay@gmail.com

  3. When it comes to rape and domestic violence whilst most perpatrators are men some are women and not all men are a rape or domestic violence incident waiting to happen. Some men are even gentle and caring. People need to get rid of the stupid stereotypes and look at the facts.

  4. Casadacongay, I hope you realize that this isn’t Helen’s story. It’s her friend M’s sad story. There’s no need to insult Helen’s wife.

Leave a Reply