Category: relationships

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.

New Trans Relationship

Posted by – April 10, 2014

So this Dear Abby letter is a few kinds of great:

Dear Abby: I’m a divorced woman with grown children. I have always supported gay rights and thought of myself as straight. But a few months ago, I met a woman, “Stephanie.”

We hit it off immediately, and I was shocked to learn she’s a transgender woman who was born male. We have spent a lot of time together and are falling in love. Stephanie will be having surgery soon to complete the transgender process.

I have been surprised and disappointed by the lack of support from my family and friends, whom I always thought were open-minded. Some have voiced support, but have shown no interest in meeting her and seem uncomfortable hearing about her.

I’m excited about this relationship and would have thought my family and friends would be happy for me, as I have been alone for a long time. But now I find myself refraining from mentioning Stephanie in conversation.

How can I discuss her with others? We are taking things slowly and not jumping into anything, yet we can definitely see ourselves spending the rest of our lives together. We have already faced disapproving strangers and handled it well.

– Loves My Friend in Ohio

Dear Loves: It appears Stephanie isn’t the only one in your relationship who is in transition. Both of you are, and because it is new to those around you, they may not understand it – which is why they are uncomfortable.

The fact that Stephanie is transgender should not be mentioned right off the bat. It is not the most important thing about her, and it should not be her defining characteristic. Discuss the matter with your friend and ask how she would like to be introduced and referred to. It’s only logical that this will vary according to how close these people are to you.

What do you think? Did she cover all the bases?

Christie Lee Littleton (Van de Putte) Dies

Posted by – April 9, 2014

She did remarry after the case that made her famous, which was only recently overturned by the Nikki Araguz case.

Her case brought a public spotlight onto the injustice of judges ruling on gender transition and marriage rights.

I’m glad at least to know that she saw so much change before she died.

“Making Trans Parents Visible” – co-authored by me

Posted by – March 18, 2014

So this is cool: the article I co-authored with a colleague (Beth Haines) and a former student (Alex Ajayi) has been published in Feminism & Psychology, and is now available online.

Here’s the abstract:

This article explores the self-reported parenting challenges of 50 transgender parents based on an online survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans parents in the United States. Many trans parents transitioned after forming a family, whereas others had children after or even during transition. They coordinated their transition with parenting responsibilities, and carefully managed their visibility in parenting settings to protect their children. This analysis focuses on the challenges that trans parents faced at the intersection of their parenting and trans identities. Although trans parents share many of the concerns of cisgender parents, they also face unique challenges that must often be navigated without extensive support. Revealing these challenges increases trans parents’ visibility in society, and could help therapists and school administrators become more sensitive to the intersectional identities of trans people and the stressors unique to trans parenting.

Some of the other articles from the same special issue on trans include:

  • What makes a man? Thomas Beatie, embodiment, and ‘mundane transphobia’
  • Trans men and friendships: A Foucauldian discourse analysis
  • Who watches the watchmen? A critical perspective on the theorization of trans people and clinicians

Neat.

Transitioned Couple

Posted by – March 11, 2014

They’re awesome, no?

(via LGBTQ Nation)

Wedding!

Posted by – February 27, 2014

An old friend I went to high school with got married in NYC today, and he posted this awesome photo of him & his groom. It made me smile every time it came across my Facebook feed, so I thought I’d share it withall of you.

Congratulations, Dominic & Neil!

 

Sweet Couple

Posted by – February 20, 2014

I just read this lovely article about Debbie & Brian McCloskey – “He Wears a Dress, She’s Fine with That” out of LA Weekly. Made me almost sentimental about when we came out as that kind of couple, and it makes me happy to see other partners who get it. (Though she does seem to have read the *wrong* book by the wife of a CD!)

“It wouldn’t matter what you wore. You could wear a cheese costume every day, and what difference does it make? It doesn’t change who he is. And if wearing a cheese costume makes him as happy as wearing this dress does, I’m not gonna stand in his way and demand that he conform to some arbitrary standard.”

Exactly. I wish them both every happiness.

Littleton Undone

Posted by – February 18, 2014

A Texas court handed down a ruling on the Araguz case the other day that basically undid the travesty of the Littleton case from back in 1999, so it’s exciting that this court decided Nikki Araguz was in fact a woman and that she was legally, heterosexually married to her husband at the time of his death.

The appeals court said more expert testimony on this issue is needed as the only such testimony presented was an affidavit by one of Nikki Araguz’s doctors, who wrote that she was medically and psychologically female as a result of her compliance with the standards of care adopted by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.

The three-judge panel also wrote that changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license legislatively overruled a previous court decision that had been used as legal precedent in such cases.

Congratulations, Nikki!

UnValentine: Another Note

Posted by – February 15, 2014

Another note/update from the partner who was excluded from a women’s-only dance yesterday:

UPDATE: It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster. I want to make a clarification: This is a private group of women holding a fundraiser. It is NOT a PFLAG group. PFLAG, itself is trans-inclusive and trans-friendly. In addition, trans-women are welcomed at the dance. (Not sure about people who don’t identify as either binary but that’s a different issue.)

I was really trying to express how I felt as a partner who has lost this part of her community. It just hurts.

I understand that we no longer belong as a couple in a women’s-only space. In the meantime, if this helped spur a little more discussion, I’m glad.

I love my partner fiercely. He’s very brave and loving human being and I’m lucky to have him by my side.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

So this isn’t PFLAG’s problem, but it’s still our community’s problem, in my opinion. In reading over the comments – I know, I know, I’m not supposed to do that – over at AmericaBlog where John Aravosis wrote about it, the one thing I’m struck by is how quickly this became about the trans guy’s identity and why he would want to go to a women’s only dance.

And you know, that’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Why should someone’s transition negate the partner’s identity as a lesbian? The whole idea that they wouldn’t “look like” a lesbian couple is infuriating – the same argument was made against butch/femme couples back in the day.

Here’s the thing: as a community, could we maybe start to acknowledge that people transition, and that they have histories, and identities, and life experiences, all of which may not tidily map onto our models of “straight” and “gay”? Can we allow trans couples to decide how to negotiate their own identities as individuals and couples instead of everyone else telling us where we belong? Can a trans guy honor his own past and his relationship’s past without other trans men telling him he’s sold out his gender and trans people everywhere? Are lesbians really not used to guys transitioning yet?

A little compassion would be awesome from groups who are now and who have been, historically, excluded discreetly and explicitly, kindly and hatefully.

Trans partners are often a wrench in the homo/hetero works, but sometimes we get eaten by the gears.

Trans Partner’s UnValentine

Posted by – February 14, 2014

A lesbian-identified partner of a recently transitioned trans guy thought they were going to a PFLAG dance in their local community. They politely asked whether or not they would be welcome and they were told NO. (Also, to clarify, I am pretty sure that PFLAG is generally inclusive of trans people & their partners despite sexual orientation or gender identity, but I don’t know for sure. This local is an exception, so far as I know/can tell.)

She writes: Because while we can pass for a straight couple, we really aren’t that. I’m not so sure how many places a transgender dude and a lesbian could feel safe, at the least and like they’re at home with their community, at best. But that’s not even the point.

& This is the problem for partners: we don’t belong anywhere sometimes. I remember feeling too het for queer spaces, too queer for het ones. We end up saying things like: My wife is a lesbian but I’m not. I’m a lesbian but my husband isn’t. But like so many other partners I’ve known over the years, she has a profound respect for the intention and the space she’s just been told she no longer belongs in:

I don’t want to yell at these women. I’m not even mad at them. I know they’ve probably been through all the heartache I have and a lot more, feeling rejected, threatened, and  frightened, for being who they were. I grew up in a homophobic world, too. 
 
They said that us being there together would make women feel uncomfortable. So by being who we were, we were hurting them. It feels too familiar. How many times have we heard straight men saying they didn’t want gay men in the locker room because it made them feel icky? Since when is someone’s discomfort with someone different a reason for excluding them? I doubt they would feel physically threatened by A. 
 
But listen: I want all those women to have a safe place. I really do. They’re my sisters. And to think that our mere presence would harm them? Ouch. When your family pushes you out the door and says, sorry: we don’t want you, and your mere presence sickens us, that feels pretty terrible. 
 
I guess I was hoping that maybe, just maybe this family would open the doors just a little wider to let us in and celebrate together.

Not this time.

So happy Valentine’s Day to us, all of us trans partners out there whose existences are based on past and present identities that don’t always jive with the hetero/homo binary but don’t quite work in the queer/feminist ones, either. We rock all those liminal spaces, the queer places between genders, between orientations; we bring histories that confuse other people and don’t get to be seen for who we are most of the time. But we do all that for love, right? So happy Valentine’s Day to us.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Seeking Freedom to Marry for Wisconsin Couples

Posted by – February 3, 2014

The ACLU has set the ball rolling:

MADISON, Wis. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.

The plaintiffs include Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee, who have been together 37 years. Three years ago Wangemann had much of his right lung removed after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Following the operation, a complication occurred and he was put into a medically induced coma for nearly a month. His progress was uncertain, and Wangemann’s father attempted to override Badger’s power of attorney to have his son taken off life support. Before that could happen, Wangemann recovered.

“What upset me the most was that after all of our time together, our relationship was not fully recognized by my family and there was a real danger that my wish to give Roy the ability to make decisions about my care could be stripped away,” Wangemann said. “Thankfully, our wishes held in this case. But without the protections that come with marriage, the consequences can literally be a matter of life or death.”

Other plaintiffs in the case are Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwaukee; and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison.

Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples. Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Among the plaintiff couples, Schumacher and Wolf were legally married in another state, raising the possibility of prosecution back at home. The lawsuit challenges the overall ban as well as the application of this criminal law to same-sex couples who are forced to choose between being denied federal protections and the risk of criminal prosecution.

“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “They have built their lives and raised children here. It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens, and it is cruel to place them in a catch-22 where they can’t even travel elsewhere to obtain federal protections without their marriage being labeled a crime.”

The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs allege that the state’s constitutional marriage ban sends a message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are viewed as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

“More and more Americans over the past few years accept the idea that same-sex couples and their families shouldn’t be treated differently than other families,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is our hope that Wisconsin will soon join the other 17 states in granting the freedom to marry.”

OK, OK

Posted by – January 14, 2014

The good news is that a federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s DOMA as unconstitutional.

(Image courtesy Joe.My.God)

(I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

The 15%

Posted by – January 13, 2014

There’s a project called “We Are the 15 Percent” that collects portraits of interiracial marriages and families, and I came upon this one and decided they were too cute not to post.

The project came about because of the ridiculous, hateful backlash that came about as a result of that sweet Cheerios commercial a while back. From the Tumblr:

In May, Cheerios posted this new commercial on youtube. It sparked a firestorm of backlash, and (naturally) the comments on the video have been deactivated.

When my wife and I watched the video, it felt great to (finally) see a representation of our own family. Especially considering what happened at a Wal-Mart in Virginia a few weeks ago.

We created this site to publicly reflect the changing face of the American family. According to the 2008 census, 15% of new marriages are interracial. And yet, it still feels rare to see something like the Cheerios ad represented in mainstream culture.

It’s especially nice to see a queer married couple in the mix.

Trans Marriage Precedent

Posted by – December 26, 2013

I was so excited to read this I got shivers. A couple in Indiana got divorced after the husband transitioned to female, and were working out an amicable agreement when a circuit court judge rejected their divorce petition on the grounds that the marriage became illegal due to her transition.

But Indiana’s Court of Appeals said: not so fast.

The court ruled the marriage must be dissolved through traditional means because at the time of their wedding Davis and Summers fully complied with Indiana’s marriage law, which reads, “Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female.”

This is GREAT news, and great precedent, for those of us living in states with a ban on same sex marriages whose marriages were entered into before transition.

That is, ME. It’s great news for us and for couples like us.

 

 

Interview with Yours Truly

Posted by – December 21, 2013

I haven’t done one of these in forever and a day, but here’s a brief interview with me by a very lovely crossdresser named Vivienne who asked me a bunch of questions. I answered most of them.

Here are the questions I did answer:

  1. It’s been several years since She’s Not the Man I Married was published. For those of us who don’t know the latest, could you give us a brief update on where things are with Betty’s transgender journey? … Does this mean hormones and surgery, or something short of that? Legal gender change?

  2. I completely understand your desire to write My Husband Betty, but did you realise or suspect at the time the impact it would have on you? Did you foresee that it would become part of your identity, at least your public one? And is that OK?

  3. What are your plans for your next book?

  4. What else do you write about which isn’t to do with gender? From my point of view, you seem like someone with a point to make, and I suspect you would have made it in a different area if the cards had fallen a little differently. I just wonder what that area might have been.

  5. I admit to feelings of envy when I read your books and realise how open you are to the idea of Betty’s transgender status. I suspect that a question you get asked frequently by crossdressers is: “How can I get my wife to be more like you?”

  6. But my question to you is this: has your acceptance of Betty ever led to problems? Have you been the subject of hostility for your views? …Why do you consider yourself a pain in the ass?

  7. What’s the most difficult thing for you about having a trans husband?

  8. What’s the best thing for you about having a trans husband?

  9. What advice would you give to a woman (perhaps a wife) whose partner has just told her about his crossdressing for the first time?

  10. A theme of my blog has become my (qualified) acceptance of the Freund-Blanchard autogynephilia model. I wondered what your current view about this hypothesis is (you touch on it in My Husband Betty, but I wondered if your views have evolved). … Old men? You mean scientists? Or perhaps priests?

  11. Most crossdressers insist they are straight men attracted to women. Yet some gay men crossdress. What’s your take on that?

  12. What famous person would you most like to meet and why?

Do go read the whole thing. It’s a very smart blog.

Non Monogamy’s Many Variations

Posted by – November 27, 2013

So here’s a clearly stated article on some of the vagaries of non monogamous relationships, what forms they might take, how they are interpreted in gay and straight relationships, why non monogamy and polyamory aren’t “cheating”, what the difference is between an open relationship and a poly one.

But here’s what I love the most about this one:

Whenever the topic of non-monogamy comes up there are inevitably comments about these sorts of relationships failing. The truth is, non-monogamous relationships fail all the time.

The bigger picture however, is that relationships fail all the time, full stop.

Oh, right. That. & From where I’m standing, there is a lot, a lot a lot a lot, of wreckage around transition. I often wonder how many partnerships might have continued if there had been a little room – say, for a lesbian wife of a trans guy to have a girlfriend, too, because she still loves the guy she met who transitioned but misses having an intimate, trusting relationship with a woman, too.

The more I read about ace (asexuality), the more these kinds of relationships might make sense too.

I had a poly friend once say to me that his feelings about monogamy are kind of like Gandhi’s about western civilization. I’m sure you all know the story: Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civ, and he said, “I think it would be a very good idea.” The problem with monogamy, he explained, is that all sorts of people think they’re in monogamous relationships who aren’t.

As I have before, I’ll once again recommend Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up.

 

 

Transphobia, Attraction, & The Right to Say No

Posted by – November 5, 2013

A trans guy asks a het, cis LGBTQ activist out on a date & she says no. He tells her she’s transphobic.

& Then she write a column for Bilerico discussing whether or not she can be “on the same activism level as a trans person.”

At first I wanted argue. I wanted to list all the things that proved him wrong. But I paused. What if I asked questions rather than asserted myself? As I thought of his assertion that I wasn’t a true ally, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it is even fair for a cisgender person to believe herself to be on the same activism level as a trans person.

And I read this & think: what the hell does that have to do with it? The issue of being cis in the world of trans activism (or het in queer activism, or a white anti-racist, etc.) has nothing to do with her not wanting to date the guy, but I have to admit that she actually questioned her commitment to her own activism makes me wonder if she decided not to date him because he’s trans.

Because that would be transphobic.

& Her response – not to argue, not to list or justify, but instead to ask questions of herself, is a good one. Why did I make that choice? Why don’t I like him? Do I subconsciously consider him female? Because I think all of those things could be true, and often are, to be honest.

But that said: not dating the dude because he’s trans is entirely different from not dating the guy because he’s not her cup of tea, is what I mean. Women turn down dates from men all the time. Sometimes people like you back & sometimes they don’t. BUTT in a ciscentric world, it is important to know if you actually think of trans women as women and trans men as men to the point that you would or could date or have sex with them *as such*.

Honestly, his response to her “no” tells me there were good reasons she didn’t want to date him: way to get turned down absolutely ungraciously.
But this issue of whether she can be “on the same activism level as a trans person” is a whole other issue, for another time and post.

Domestic Partner Benefits Considered By WI State Supreme Court

Posted by – October 24, 2013

So this happened in Wisconsin today: arguments were made to & for Wisconsin’s domestic partner benefits & registry.

At issue is whether domestic partnerships create a legal status that is “substantially similar” to marriage and therefore violate the state’s 2006 constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Gov. Jim Doyle signed the state’s domestic partnership registry into law as part of the 2009-2011 biennial budget. Domestic partnerships grant same-sex couples limited benefits, including visitation rights in hospitals and the right to inherit each other’s assets.

Julaine Appling, the executive director of Wisconsin Family Action, a socially conservative organization that opposes homosexuality, unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction in an original action in 2009. The domestic partner registry has since been ruled constitutional by Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser, with that decision upheld by a state appeals court.

The appeals court ruled that, when considering eligibility requirements, formation requirements, rights, obligations, and termination requirements, “the ‘legal status’ of a domestic partnership is not ‘substantially similar’ to the ‘legal status’ of marriage.”

The idea is this: domestic partner benefits offer a few basic rights to same sex couples which come nowhere near what marriage bestows, but these wingnuts have taken the case to court in order to prove that even something as simple as hospital visitation “mimics” marriage which is expressly forbidden by the state’s super-DOMA.

Of course the problem is that Wisconsin has a super DOMA in the first place, and it can’t be challenged, even, until 2015.

Honestly, the whole fracas is embarrassing, especially now that it’s obvious which way the wind is blowing, but these conservative wingnuts are digging their heels in deeper now that it’s apparent they are losing the war (even if/when they win the battles).

*sigh*

Honestly, it’s like living in the Dark Ages, but cheers to my friends Kathy & Ann who are willing to stand up for their rights.

Trans Oriented / Trans Attracted

Posted by – October 22, 2013

Call me old school, but I still prefer Trans Am. BUT, check it out! Straight dude comes out as straight! No, as a trans inclusive straight guy.

I’ve had enough of this shaming. It’s created a disgusting culture of trans-attracted men using trans women for sex but never forming a committed relationship with them. Most trans-attracted men are only trans-attracted at night. Then, during the day, they run back to their heteronormative relationships with cis-women of whom they are not ashamed.  Even men who are in committed relationships with trans women will often tell those women that they could never introduce them to their friends or family. Imagine a woman who has been to hell and back trying to transition into who she really is only to be told by her lover that he is ashamed to be with her.

I’ve had enough of this shaming, too, so may there be legions right behind him.

Coming Out Straight?

Posted by – October 11, 2013

Really, has it come to this? Lifelong lesbian moves to SF & starts dating & having sex with men.

Except the title’s all wrong since it’s part of a series about bisexuality, in fact.

Still, I loved this:

As if the hot boi in the bow tie and suspenders would suddenly leap up and pronounce me a fraud between Le Tigre mashups.

Because of course that hot boi in the bow tie could very well be a fraud in ‘not queer enough’ sense she’s making reference to, and really, who cares anymore? Does anyone care? & Yes, I know they do. I know lesbians who married men who got endless shit about it, got called sellouts & worse. I know that to some people I am not queer enough & never will be.

But it’s so, so tiresome, all of us always explaining and defending our authenticity. So how’s this: what if we all just leave labels out of it & have sex with who we want?

I know, that’s just nuts, isn’t it?