Category: relationships

Five Questions With… Loree Cook Daniels

Posted by – February 28, 2015

Another interview with one of the partners whose narrative is in Transgress Press’ Love, Always. Loree Cook Daniel’s is the “partner’s partner” and has been working on SOFFA support and inclusion in the trans community for 20 years. She works primarily with FORGE, the awesome trans advocacy group out of Milwaukee.


1. What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?
I’ve been partnered with a trans person for a total of 32 years now; there is a LOT that wasn’t covered!

2.  What is the biggest misunderstanding you confront as a partner to a trans person?
The thing that most irritates me is when someone tells me that because “I’m cis” I don’t get it.  First of all, I don’t identify as cis. But secondly, I’ve been working on trans issues for more than 20 years, and from the beginning I have had a really strong commitment to understanding and representing the tremendous diversity there is in the trans community. It ticks me off when someone who came out last year or the year before that says that because of their experience, they know more about being trans than I do. Kinda like the heart patient who says she knows more about heart attacks than her heart surgeon: if you had a heart problem, which one would you rather get advice from? I’ve had people who said they didn’t want me to train them because they wanted to hear from a “real” trans person.

3. Where do you get your support?
When my first partner first transitioned, I was active on a lot of the partner’s listservs. But those didn’t always feel supportive to me, because Marcelle and I were not comfortable with a lot of the group norms, some of which involved being a “good (silent, nonequal) partner.”  So it seemed like I was either involved in a conflict or just giving advice from what I’d gathered in working with so many people; I didn’t get support for myself. I think this is still true.  I still have trouble finding/feeling support for me and my issues. Except, of course, that both of my partners have been *extremely* supportive of me. I just don’t feel much support from “out there.”

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Five Questions With… Dan

Posted by – February 21, 2015

In honor of the publication of Transgress Press’ Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge, & Resistance, I’ve done a few interviews with partners whose words appear in this book.

The first of these is with Dan, whose wife transitioned to male.


 

1.What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?

I didn’t write about sex. Make that S-E-X sex. It is a hard subject for me and for most people, I suppose. I have learned that, despite the widely held view that transgender people are, by and large, some sort of sex pervert, it seems that transitioning and post-transition folks are often asexual. It is understandable in that for many trans people, their sex organs–and in the case of trans men, their breasts–are hated reminders of their lifelong “wrong body” predicament. Still, I was not at all prepared for my partner to tell me, shortly after beginning transition, that he had lost interest in sex.

I am 69 years old as of this writing and Rob is 13 years behind me. We’ve been together, sexually, for about 35 years. We had always had a very satisfying love life, and the loss-of-interest announcement came so closely on the heels of transition that I naturally think of the two incidents as being related. Rob had been peri-menopausal for a few years before starting on “T,” and that immediately cut off the supply of estrogen and brought on full-scale menopause. It is not unusual for women to find their sex drive diminishing with menopause, but this was an abrupt and dramatic change.

For the first few years I struggled hard with this. We didn’t talk much about it, partly because I didn’t want him to feel guilty or pressured or any such thing, but I am a sexual guy. I thought about raising the possibility of opening our relationship, but discarded that idea quickly. Early in our marriage we had some experiences with sharing a third-party lover, but we gave that up as something that was simply not our style. Of course, I considered the possibility of an affair, but we have a trust-based, monogamous relationship and I would never jeopardize that, nor do I think for a moment that Rob would ever tolerate that. Neither could I, for that matter.

A couple years ago, Rob indicated that he was interested in re-establishing our sex life, but by that time we also found that he had developed one of those other post-menopausal bugbears: dryness and some pretty serious pain with intercourse. At the same time, whatever prowess I might once of had was mostly in my memories. I had hip replacement surgery when I was 60 and again three years later. The pain and mobility problems leading up to and recovering from those certainly reduced my skills and stamina for being a very energetic lover. These days I think Robin is more ready and willing to get it on than I am, not because I don’t want to or don’t find him attractive, but largely because we’re just way out of practice and, truth be told, we’re just not as young as we were when this all started.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted by – February 14, 2015

queer valentine's day

(finally tracked down the source – one Stefanie F Gray on Twitter, and here’s her website.)

What Partners Think

Posted by – October 29, 2014

Here are a few new (to me) resources for partners:

One blog post by a trans person who was happily surprised by a relationship with a cis person, and who goes on to interview a few partners on their experience of being partnered to someone trans:

Neither Pity Nor a Fetish

And otherwise, there’s the mypartneristrans reddit.

In the first set, there’s a list of the “allowable” types of partners – “boxes”:


1. Straight cis man is with a straight trans woman because she ‘probably’ still has a penis and, therefore, ‘he’s probably actually gay’.
2. Straight cis man is with a straight trans woman AND HE IS DECEIVED.
3. Straight cis woman stays with her transitioning partner, is to be pitied.
4. Straight cis woman is with a straight trans man AND WHERE IS THE PENIS, WE MUST ASK WHERE THE PENIS IS, CAN YOU FIND IT FOR US?
5. Gay cis woman is with a straight trans man, and that’s okay, because we all knew that ‘he’ was actually a lesbian woman all along.

And I wonder where these come from. When I was coming up, only #s 2, 3, & 5 existed, and I didn’t fit into any of them very well either, unless you see me as the “to be pitied” type, which I don’t.

Always useful to see/hear more partners speak up.

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

Posted by – October 16, 2014

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.

SCOTUS Doesn’t Rule

Posted by – October 6, 2014

The Supreme Court of the US today decided not to take a same sex marriage case.

The good news? The one from the 7th Circuit now stands, which means couples in WI can get married, which is awesome. With federal recognition of people getting married in states that allow it, it’s a better time to be same sex married than it’s ever been.

The bad news? SCOTUS ducked. Establishing the legality of same sex marriage through a Supreme Court ruling would have been the best option, just as it is with Roe v Wade. This leaves states that don’t allow marriage the ability to keep denying people their rights as US citizens.

The difficult thing is that this only delays the inevitable. I’m told a Circuit Court ruling that affirms the state bans is probably what SCOTUS are waiting for, but UGH. Enough already. Let’s get this done so that maybe we can start to deal with all the other issues the LGBTQ community faces: our homeless youth, trans underemployment, healthcare, suicide, etc.

But yes, for now, it’s good news, and I’m looking forward to all the happy wedding photos in the weeks to come, because it gives more people more rights. The arc of history, etc.

Judge Richard Posner

Posted by – August 27, 2014

Really, you have to hear some of these exchanges between 7th Circuit Court judge Richard Posner and the two lawyers arguing for keeping the ban on same sex marriages in Indiana and Wisconsin. Really, listen. The guy just won’t let up, and keeps asking for evidence for what or whom same sex marriage harms, and he gets a whole lot of nothing as answers.

Amazing stuff. Tradition isn’t a good enough reason, of course, and that argument was defeated both by Loving v. Virginia and in the Goodridge decision.

And honestly, they don’t seem to have any evidence whatsoever that Posner thinks offsets the harm done to the children of same sex couples.

Mindblowing.

This is, by the way, the same court that shot down WI’s attempt to deny transgender inmates medically prescribed treatments by way of hormones, and the appeal for this case was turned down later by SCOTUS.

Beaties Can Get Divorced

Posted by – August 14, 2014

It’s good news to hear that Thomas Beatie can get legally divorced from his wife – why? Because a previous court decided that in Arizona, where he’s trying to get divorce & where same sex marriage is not recognized, his marriage wasn’t a legal marriage due to his gender – and specifically, due to the fact that he was capable of giving birth, which he did three times.

This is good news for trans people – his gender markers were changed in his home state in HI & are now recognized as male in AZ – but it’s also good for feminists who are concerned that the ability to give birth could have crept into the definition of female.

So, yes. Maybe not good news for them, but as a result of a legal divorce, Beatie will also, I’d imagine, may have to pay court-ordered child support and/or alimony, which is another good reason that their marriage was recognized as legal. Without that legal status, they couldn’t get divorced, and without divorce, no court could require child support.

From what I read previously, it was important to him to see this ruling happen. Good for him, good for us, good for the children of trans marriages.

WI’s Attorney General Needs to Hear from You

Posted by – August 11, 2014

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Van Hollen is against same sex marriage. He was the one who put a halt to the marriages that were taking after a WI court declared WI’s super DOMA unconstitutional, and he has vowed to keep same sex couples from marrying no matter what the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules.

That is, he insists on defending a marriage ban that was already struck down by a WI court, and he can, because he’s Attorney General.

Wisconsin Unites for Marriage has a petition up which will let him know that same sex couples should be able to marry.

WI Unites for Marriage

Posted by – August 7, 2014



Sign the pledge
if you think same sex couples deserve marriage in Wisconsin.

Find out more about this campaign from Our Lives and the Wisconsin Gazette. Keep up via FB or Twitter.

“Just Like That” (Those Oprah Guests)

Posted by – July 15, 2014

Oh, Oprah. She did one of her “Where Are They Now?” editions and it turns out Christine, a woman who had been in a marriage in which both husband and wife would come out as a gay, later met a woman named Jacki.

Jacki and Christine fell in love. Awesome.

Jacki transitioned to male. Also awesome.

But while being interviewed on the show they said that Jacki transitioned in order to marry Christine, and so they “looked into transgender” and found out that “just like that” their marriage would guarantee that Christine would receive Jacki’s pension and social security.

Just like that.

M guess is that the story is being wildly misrepresented: that in fact Jacki already had some gender stuff going on, a latent or not so latent need to transition, and in these days of defeated DOMAs and lifted bans and stays on ceremonies and the murky, uneven status of same sex marriages, they thought transiton + marriage would guarantee them certain rights they could not be as sure of as a same sex couple.

The first red flag for me: Did anyone notice that Christine says Jacki is “the most authentic person I know”? I mean, is that not in the “things cis people say about trans people” list?

Which maybe it will, for them. I hope it provides them the stability and recognition of their relationship everyone deserves.

What bothers me, of course, is the way it’s been framed as the “shocking steps” one couple took. Not shocking. When people try to gain the legal rights afforded others, it’s not shocking at all. It’s entirely normal and should be totally expected. And if transition itself is still shocking to anyone — holy crap, come out from under your rock.

The problem is that many, many trans people have found their marriages declared legally null over the years – and it is far more likely for a marriage like theirs, in which both people’s sex declared at birth is the same. The status of my own marriage — which is the type that is legally upheld by the courts because we had different sexes listed on our birth certificates and got married long before my wife took the legal or medical or even social steps to transition — still makes me nervous precisely because of all of the legal details of the status of some marriages in this country.

What I suspect – and what I don’t know for sure – is that Jacki is one of very many people whose gender was already masculine of center, before meeting Christine, and whose life as a masculine woman often brought a ton of bullshit – barred entry to the ladies’ room, issues with clothes shopping, misgendering, etc. Dealing with that, plus his love for Christine maybe encouraged him to legally change his gender precisely because living with a non normative gender can be such a pain in the ass legally and otherwise. That is, there are plenty of people for whom a legal transition to male is not a huge undertaking because they are already men in so many ways. My wife’s legal transition was definitely influenced by the fact that it was getting more and more difficult for her to deal with TSA and other boneheads who had the right to judge whether or not her gender on her ID sufficiently matched her gender in person. So despite leaving for years as a woman with a male ID, we went through the legal hullabaloo to get hers changed.

The way they are presenting their story reminds me of the woman who claimed being stung by a bee caused her to transition (and who, in all fairness, said the anaphylactic shock set off a hormonal reaction, etc. etc.).

You don’t need a reason, folks. You’re trans and transition because you are.

You’re in love and want to be married because you are and you do.

Let’s please stop making excuses for gaining recognition for our lives, identities, relationships and families.

On Our 13th Anniversary

Posted by – July 14, 2014

So today my wife & I put up photos celebrating our 13 years married. We met 16 years ago, in fact, but weddings & marriage are what “counts” right? I’ll save that diatribe for another day.

& Here is the thing that I didn’t bother to say on Facebook but that I really need to say: anyone who think it isn’t difficult to survive a transition can stick it. It is. It’s about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and we two had a surfeit of love to start with. But the inherent narcissism of the thing caused her to disappear some, to focus more on the “me” than on the “us”, and that pretty much caused me to do the same in turn. As with other couples who wind up in situations that are full of one-sided caretaking, it can take a long time to get things righted, back into balance. And sometimes there’s a lot of anger and resentment and frustration while you’re trying to do that.

My wife is a beautiful woman. That I prefer to be around people who understand I chose to marry a man and will always carry some sadness about that loss seems obvious. For many people – heterosexual people, for the most part – they just see one queer couple as if they are like any other queer couple. We are still together and still happy so that’s that, right? Yeah, no. When a lesbian marries the woman she loves, she gets to be who she is and be with who she loves. And when a straight woman unwittingly marries a woman, she doesn’t. She get to be with who she loves – albeit in a slightly different form – but she really doesn’t get to be who she is. I feel lucky to have been queer enough to pull this off, but not a week goes by that I don’t miss the man I married. I loved him, after all. I married him. And I’m glad this 2.0 version was enough to keep the soul of that person in the world so I could share my life with her.

I assume I feel a lot like people who mourn the death of a loved one very deeply, who stay sad for years and years. I know you’re out there. For some, even the loss of a pet can be sad forever, and who knows why, or why we bond so deeply with some things and not with others, or why we have a hard time adjusting to some changes and not others. I am not good with change; I never have been. My hair, yes. My life, who I love, where I live, what I eat? About those things I am about as conservative as a person can get. I want the familiar; I want what feels like home.

As the trans community has changed, and awesome memoirs like Jake and Diane Anderson-Minshall’s memoir have been written, I feel more and more like I’m just supposed to be okay with this. And you know what? I’m still really not. I’m still trying to find my way in this post transition marriage, still trying to find the man I loved in the woman I live with, and some days it’s brutally hard. What sucks even more is that it’s obvious to me and everyone that my wife is a remarkable, talented, beautiful, sexy woman. She is funny and brilliant and loving and still one of the brightest lights I have ever been near. And she still adores me. So the guilt I feel some days that I can’t seem to love her the same way I loved him is back-breaking. But there it is. I can’t. I try. I fail. Over and over again, I fail. And she would tell you – tell anyone, really – that I have more than once told her that she deserves to be with someone who loves her as the woman she is and not for the man she once was. But she doesn’t want someone else. She wants me. And that’s amazing, and awesome, and fills me with gratitude and love that I can’t even contain, but it feels me with guilt, too: guilt because I worry I don’t, guilt because I worry that she is hanging around for that magical day when I feel about her how I felt about him.

So when I hear Janet Mock say that you can’t say trans women were ever men – that Janet Mock herself was born a girl – I wonder where partners wind up. I was recently talking to the filmmaker Ashley Altadonna who reassured me when she said Mock’s new paradigm didn’t thrill her, either, that her struggle – to realize she was a woman, to find the medical care needed, to come out to friends and family, to suffer some rejection and some awesome acceptance – is too much a part of her to think of herself as always having been a woman. She said it kind of sidestepped all of what it means to be trans, to be herself.

There are days I am still overwhelmed by how awesomely liberating it is as the partner of a trans person to hear a brutally honest trans person admit to something like that. For Ashley, transition was a BFD. For me, and for most partners, it is too. And while I don’t think Mock was trying to diminish or belittle or make invisible the struggles trans people and their partners go through – because that is so not her gig – I have lived so long with a woman people see as a woman and in a place where no one ever knew her as a man that I know what it means for people to see my marriage as if it is between two cis woman, where no one was ever male and no one was ever het and no one ever transitioned. And it denies way, way too much of who I am and how I am.

(For the record, this is part of the upcoming book.)

Me in Our Lives

Posted by – July 2, 2014

I did a gig for FORGE in Milwaukee recently and Connie North wrote a piece about what I had to say for Our Lives magazine out of Madison. Here are a couple of good snippets, but the article as a whole summarizes some of my recent thinking on these issues:

In 2007, she and Betty “transitioned together” and are about to celebrate their eleventh wedding anniversary. In her words, “Relationships last as long as the people in them wake up and decide to be in the relationship that day.”

She finds the “get on board or decide to go” message that partners frequently hear to be overly simplistic given how significantly someone’s transition affects those closest to them. Boyd asserts that when their partners transition, many partners must grieve the loss of the person with whom they first entered into the relationship, noting that a partner does not necessarily share the sense of inauthenticity a trans* individual may experience before transitioning. She also shares her own process of working through profound anger when Betty transitioned. Calling this “spiritual/psychological work,” Boyd speaks of learning not to blame Betty for her transition since it is not something people choose.

I appreciate Boyd’s attention to the intense hurt that exists in trans* communities—communities that she insists include the people who love trans* individuals. Instead of converting that hurt to horizontal anger that we take out on each other, she asked us to focus on changing external factors, like institutionalized discrimination, which cause great harm to trans* people and their allies and put a lot of pressure on the relationships that include trans* partners. She also reminded us that service and compassion are the heart of social justice activism.

You can read it in the full PDF of the issue, and it’s on page 28.

 

Just Call Me Che?

Posted by – June 30, 2014

To close out Pride month, I wanted to talk a little bit about this essay by Quince Mountain about a thing Laverne Cox said. What she said was:

Loving trans people is a revolutionary act.

And this bugged Quince Mountain, who is trans, and who thinks he is pretty lovable, and that trans people are, too, in general, no more or no less than anyone else. He writes:

But what does it mean, that loving me is a revolutionary act? Is it so difficult for someone to love me? Does my transness make me so untouchable that I can only hope for the mercy — and the favor — that someone might bestow upon me with their warmth? Is my self-esteem so far diminished that I can believe that someone’s love for me must be a special category of love, that it’s somehow more difficult, more important, more intentional, than other kinds of love?

So what does it mean, to love a trans person? Trans people are no more or less lovable than non trans people. They are not, by dint of being trans, any more brave, or thoughtful about gender, or feminist, or even interesting. That is, there isn’t much about transness that confers awesome amounts of lovability. There’s also nothing about transness that diminishes a person’s lovability, either.

But does it take a tremendous act of courage to love a trans person? No.

Does transness provide special challenges to how you might love a person? Yes.

Does the existing discrimination against trans people make it difficult for people who love trans people to say so? Yes. But he asks, specifically:

(And that, somehow, I would want, and not be exhausted by, this fraught and special love?)

Which is where the conundrums of partners begin. I get that he doesn’t want anyone doing him any favors by loving him or by feeling obliged to love him. Fair enough. But at the same time, partners are often in a pretty limited space: we’re not supposed to love trans people despite their transness (because that would be transphobic), or because of it (because that’s fetishizing), then how can I articulate my love for my wife? Because I can not possibly argue that her transness is irrelevant to our relationship or my feelings for her; I suspect I would love this same person if she weren’t trans, but it’s also unlikely I would have dated the woman she is now because femmes are not who I date, generally speaking.

But even if those who go through transition with a partner are a special case – grandfather clause required – then what about someone who loves someone trans long after transition? When they’re at peace with their transness? Cox has often pointed out she doesn’t “pass” – is that different from loving a trans person who does? I would imagine it would be. There would be far more stress on a couple if one person was routinely at risk of discrimination, just as there would be if one half of a couple were disabled or black – that is, no matter the cause for discrimination.

So yeah, Quince says it’s my problem, not his, or my wife’s, or any other trans person’s. I think he’s right. I don’t think I deserve a special medal for not being a transphobic jerk and I certainly don’t think it makes me some kind of uber Feminist, either. But are there days when it feels like it takes a revolutionary amount of courage? There sure the hell are, just as I expect there are days when being trans requires that much, too.

But no more, and no less.

 

 

Important Italian Court Marriage Ruling

Posted by – June 12, 2014

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this news, and I’m happy to say it’s good news, at long last.

Italy’s highest court has ruled that Alessandra Bernaroli can stay married to her wife after her legal transition to female.

Their marriage had been annulled, and then was un-annulled, and then got passed up to the highest court in the country.

Congratulations, Alessandra & Alessandra! With any luck, this trans marriage will pave the way for Italy to recognize same sex marriages eventually, too.

“I never realized that I was like a second-class citizen . . . until I wasn’t one anymore.”

Posted by – June 8, 2014

So the weddings have been taking place since the news that the ban was struck down here in WI, and there have been beautiful photos – like the one of the Madison cops bringing cakes to couples getting married on the courthouse steps – and some very interesting articles.

But it was this one sentence from this article that really got to me, because that’s how it feels even for us. Despite having been legally married in the state of New York in 2001 – because we were legally gendered heterosexual at the time – we have felt such a deep envy when NY & so many other states started recognizing and performing same sex unions.

Really, it’s a huge sigh of relief, even for us, who have had recognition from the Federal government for forever but who feel insecure no matter what we’re doing in-state. It is impossible not to feel like a second class citizen when you don’t know if an emergency room attendant is going to recognize your relationship or not.

So happy weddings, happy Pride, happy Wisconsin.

Advice to a Wife

Posted by – May 17, 2014

I get a letter every once in a not-too-rare while from a wife who has just found out her husband is going to transition. Sometimes he is already starting to, sometimes he is still deciding and she expects he will, and sometimes he isn’t at all but she is convinced he will – eventually.

And I don’t know what to say, really, to any of them, besides: the loss is huge and it never really goes away, but like with mourning, you feel it less often, if not less acutely.

I tell them it’s not for everyone, that it’s okay if you feel like you have to go, because sometimes going and not being angry and not making the person you love miserable with your anger is the better thing to do.

I tell them about the online support group I still have and run.

But mostly I don’t think any of this advice is useful, except otherwise to say: you’re not crazy for being sad or angry or confused or bewildered or — well, full of despair. And I can and do say, as well, that no, there isn’t much out there for us, and it’s very unlikely you’ll ever meet a therapist who can help much. They’re not prepared for us – not the gender therapists, not trans people, not really anyone.

I wish I could do or say more. I wish there was a checklist.

There isn’t.

If you’re a partner and have some advice or something that someone told you to help you figure out if you could stay or go, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to email me privately with words I can post here, or just go ahead and post it yourself.

NC Clergy Bring It

Posted by – April 28, 2014

Oh, this is all kinds of awesome.

“The core protection of the First Amendment is that government may not regulate religious beliefs or take sides in religious controversies,” says Jonathan Martel, a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP. “Marriage performed by clergy is a spiritual exercise and expression of faith essential to the values and continuity of the religion that government may regulate only where it has a compelling interest.”

Growing numbers of faith traditions, including those represented among the plaintiffs, bless the marriages of same-sex couples. “As senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation. My denomination – the United Church of Christ – authorizes me to perform these ceremonies. But Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right,” says Rev. Joe Hoffman, Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville and a plaintiff in the case.

Amendment One is, of course, the law barring same sex marriages in NC.

Us @ FORGE Milwaukee

Posted by – April 25, 2014

We’re doing a presentation and heading a discussion at FORGE Milwaukee tomorrow, Saturday April 26th, at 7PM.

The Facebook event is here.

FORGE’s longer description is here and goes like this:


Join guest speaker and author Helen Boyd for a lively reading and discussion of her book “She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband.” Published in 2007, this book is a foundation for partners of trans people, with timeless information and thought provoking concepts from a partner-centric focus. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to engage in dialogue with Helen and other attendees, as well as hear more from the author about the book (and possibly about what has changed for her — and the trans/SOFFA community — since 2007).

[Get your free copy of the book (paper or Kindle) by attending the March 22nd social support group or contacting michael (tgwarrior [at] forge-forward [dot] org) to make arrangements.]

Helen Boyd is the author of My Husband Betty (Thunder’s Mouth, 2004) which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and is often referred to as the “field guide to crossdressers”. Her second book, She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband (Seal Press, 2007), has been called “a postmodern reflection on transness” by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Her blog (en)gender can be found online at www.myhusbandbetty.com.

She hails from Brooklyn, NY, and currently lives in Appleton, WI, where she teaches Gender Studies at Lawrence University.

Open discussion is from 6:00 – 6:45pm

Open discussion is the time to connect connection with fellow Trans+ and SOFFA individuals. This gently facilitated time is especially devoted to exploring the issues you bring in – sharing your experiences and stories, asking questions, seeking referrals, gathering resources. We’ll assure this time will stay focused on your needs, and the discussion you generate.

Hyenas

Posted by – April 11, 2014

I write memoir. Sometimes people ask me why I would publish such deeply personal things, and I never know how to answer that question. Because I can? Because I think shame is the single most limiting factor of our lives? Because I want people to know the same sense of relief I have many, many times – that relief when you read something, or see something, and you think, “maybe I’m not horrible.” But often it’s because writing about something is a way of taking control of it. Owning your own story is empowering. Having someone else tell it to shame you is not.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today because I’ve been watching two good friends have their lives dragged through social media in horrible ways.

And I think about all of these news stories – politicians’ dick pics, barebacking requests, grindr photos – all of these things, the real world of desire and shame and love and risk and identity – and we all make jokes about them, judge them, maybe sometimes feel sorry for the parties involved.

But really, we should all ignore them. We should ignore them on the proposition that these things could happen to any one of us.

Anyway, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, first of all. Second of all, read with compassion whenever and however you can. This current story is tragic and personal and painful, and this is all I will ever say about it.

Back off, hyenas. Even you may need to rely on the common decency of other people someday.