Mr. & Mr.

I so love that this guy wrote to the AP to let them know that he & his husband use the term “husband” with each other. Apparently the AP is supposed to not use the terms for same sex couples unless those people use it themselves.

So he went on record and wrote to the AP to let them know that in his case, and in his husband’s case, they should go ahead and use “husband”.

I understand that the AP will only refer to my lawfully wedded husband, Michael Gallagher, as my “husband” if you are aware that we have regularly used those terms.

As this determination is being made on a case-by-case basis, I wanted to let you know, for your records, that we use these terms.

You can write to them to: Tom Kent, the standards editor,, [and] David Minthorn, AP stylebook editor,

I really do want to write to them but I think trying to explain that we’ve gone from husband & wife to wives to sometimes just “legal spouse” – because the legally married part often needs to be underlined – might just throw the AP if they’re still pussyfooting around couples who are, and stay, the same legal gender.

And we in the trans community wonder why journalists get it wrong so often.

Why Trans Partners Should Tell Their Stories

The other day I published a brief interview with Christine Benvenuto, who wrote a book about her marriage to and divorce from a trans woman.

I blurbed her book, let me admit up front.

I blurbed it because despite some transphobic tendencies (not respecting her ex’s change to feminine pronouns, most notably), I think it’s important that partners get their stories out there – as important as it is for trans people to do so. I’ve been enabling the latter for a long time, and I’m proud to have done so. But I see so often that partners who are having a hard time or who are bitter about a divorce or angry about transition are told – in trans community spaces – to STFU, pretty much. And that really sucks, a lot.

The thing is, nothing about her memoir struck me as patently false. I’ve known a lot of trans women and a lot of wives of trans women over the past 13 years. A LOT. And Benvenuto’s story, just as she told it, is pretty goddamned typical. I have seen behavior by trans women that is sexist, misogynist bullshit. I have seen trans women spend their kids’ college money on transition. I have seen 401Ks emptied. I have seen all of that, and more.

I have also seen the wives of transitioning women take out all their rage on their trans spouse – financially, emotionally, even physically. I have seen rage that I didn’t even know was possible in the wives of trans women. And I have seen them be unwilling to let it go.

That is, I have seen a lot of awful behavior on both sides of this coin. Trans people are not excused because they’re trans just as women are not excused because they’re women. We are all faced with loss and betrayal and heartbreak and all of the emotions that accompany those things. How you choose to express them is entirely up to you.

I can buy the argument that now is not the best time to be airing our dirty laundry in public. Maybe it is. Maybe right now is the “let’s put a good face on it so the public grants us our rights” period for trans issues. But I don’t think there ever is that time, to be honest. I think that’s the kind of thinking that results in shaming some members of a community over other members of that community.

Because, I would argue, the crap behavior of some trans women who come from lives of male privilege – & here I’m specifically talking about certain kinds of later transitioning trans women – is a fact. It’s not made up. I can promise you that. And what we want, as a community, is for trans people to be happy. For them to have people to love and who love them. For them to be accepted and loved by their families.

And transition after 20 years of marriage is very, very rarely going to make that happen. It just isn’t.

So if we as a community want trans people to be happy, people need to know what kind of devastation a late transition can cause on families and wives and communities and of course on the trans people themselves. There is so, so much pain, on everyone’s part. People need to know it. People need to transition younger so that some of this can be prevented.

That said: partners deserve to tell their stories because they’re their stories. There are other reasons, but really, that’s the nut of it. There is no saying who is “right” when it comes to he said/she said. There never is. But as far as I could tell, Sex Changes felt real. It felt hard to write. There were parts that made me cry to finally see things I’d felt in print.

So no, it’s not a perfect story. It could have been kinder, but my gut still says it was honest and that is worth having in the world. Honesty can only shed light in dark corners, and transition-fueled divorce is one of the darkest corners I know of.

Beatie Complication

The Beaties were just trying to get divorced.

Thomas and Nancy Beatie are eager to end their nine-year marriage, but their divorce plans stalled when Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach said in late June that he was unable to find any legal authority defining a man as someone who can give birth.

“Are we dealing with a same-sex marriage?” Gerlach asked. He noted Arizona has banned such marriages and refuses to accept those performed in other states. The judge added no court here is allowed to declare same-sex unions valid.


“What you have is a man and woman who are married, and their relationship is ending,” said Minter, who isn’t involved in the Beatie case. “And it’s no different, fundamentally, from other people in that circumstance.”

And Beatie, whom I’ve never been a gigantic fan of, redeems himself with this:

David Michael Cantor, one of Thomas Beatie’s attorneys, said it would be more financially favorable for his client if the marriage weren’t recognized by the courts, because Thomas could have to pay Nancy alimony. But Cantor said Thomas wants the divorce as an official recognition that their union was legitimate. “He loses money, but he wants to be told it’s valid,” Cantor said.

As a friend pointed out: it’s sad that he doesn’t want to pay alimony simply because it’s the right thing for a man to do in a sexist system, but at least he wants to see his marriage upheld as legitimate so as not to set a precedent (or rather, more precedent) that puts any other of our marriages at risk. Let’s hope he gets his way.

You can read the whole article here.

A Modest Proposal

A trans guy puts the video of him proposing to his fiancee up on YouTube and the right wing mocks them.

But he wasn’t having it, and has responded with grace and humor and steeliness:

“To Laura Ingraham, a Fox News anchor who expressed dismay at seeing the news, we just want to say, do not worry. We will absolutely invite you to the wedding,” Scout says. As for Fischer, who Scout accidentally referred to as Miss Brianna Fischer, “We will offer you free LGBT cultural competency training.”

What his fiancee said is what drew me to this story.

There are some “people who think we’re mutants and horrible people,” said Margolies, who is executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network in New York City. “But we’re just regular people struggling to do good in the world.”

This shouldn’t be a very difficult thing to explain, yet I find it is, time after time. The assumption that LGBTQ people – and especially trans people and their partners – are somehow living lives that are intentionally perverse is one that I find even welcoming liberals sometimes express.

We are not trying to be “out there”. We are trying to be happy, like everyone else.

A lot of the time, embracing the idea of being a pervert, or “out there”, is the only thing that keeps you sane, because otherwise, the constant judgment wears you down.

Boston DOMA Ruling

In Thursday’s opinion, a three-judge panel in the First Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law couldn’t stand. Writing for the court, Judge Michael Boudin, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, observed that Supreme Court precedents limit government’s power to take action against “historically disadvantaged or unpopular” groups, including gays and lesbians. The 1996 law imposes “serious adverse consequences” on them, he wrote.

Justifications offered for the law—”defending and nurturing the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage” and “traditional notions of morality,” among others—were insufficient to justify such discriminatory treatment, Judge Boudin said.

Six states plus the District of Columbia currently authorize same-sex marriages, and more than 100,000 same-sex couples have been married. Thirty-nine states have passed laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

More here.

Seven + D.C.

Washington state’s Senate just passed a bill to make same sex marriage legal. It’s expected to pass all the way through to the Governor’s office, who is expected to sign it.

Washington will mean that seven states and D.C. have made it legal, folks. (Only 16 states had full suffrage for women before the Federal Government gave women the right to vote, and I don’t think there will be even that many before same sex marriage becomes legalized on the national level.)

Artist’s Statement

How do you not love artists? A sculptor has created a sculpture of her and her wife, in bed naked and embracing, as their headstone in Woodlawn cemetary. She said:

“Since all we were legally afforded was death, I was going to make the most elegant statement on our government not allowing us to marry as I could muster.”

What an amazing statement and an amazing response to discrimination.

Yay New York!

It’s the first day of marriage equality in NY. These first weddings are going to be so full of joy:

How gorgeous.

Dan Savage’s Family Values

I”m sure plenty have already seen Mark Oppenheimer’s NYT column about infidelity; in it, he talks a lot about Dan Savage, who I love (and whose show I was on back in January). Despite how angry people are about the transphobic way he talked about the dilemma’s of a trans person’s relationship with her wife & son, I can’t really disagree with it, either. (Although I’d add, too, that sometimes children and wives are transphobic; still, giving loved ones a little while to get used to the idea would be great, and may preserve some familiar relationships that will not sustain a very speedy transition.)

Still, that’s hardly what’s interesting to me about this column. First off, he said it a few years ago, & Savage has been sucking a  little less on trans issues. He is, in my opinion, someone who could have been an amazing ally if he weren’t shouted at every second he said something stupid (but not necessarily hateful). He is, in my opinion, one of the people we lost with the overuse of the word transphobic, a la Christine Burns.

But what’s more interesting to me is the way this article paints him as something like a conservative. Really… Dan Savage? But yes: he’s always been pro nuclear family, that’s for sure. He’s opinionated in ways only ex-Catholics can be (she says, securely seated in her glass house). But that idea that someone could be considered conservative even as they suggest that perhaps nonmonogamy should be on the table for heterosexual marriage kind of blows my mind. I don’t disagree. I think in plenty of cases, nonmonogamy makes perfect sense. I’ve been learning a lot more about it – not just from friends who practice it, but from Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up as well, and I was in a relationship during my 20s that wasn’t monogamous. But still: I sorta kinda love the idea of Savage being seen as conservative because he is advocating nonmonogamy in order to preserve marriages, because being married/partnered for life is a conservative value whether you’re gay or kinky or not.

And that’s the kind of thing that makes my feminist hackles rise.

Because Coontz – who Oppenheimer mentions and quotes – has said elsewhere that in happy marriages, both people benefit. But in unhappy marriages, men continue to benefit, but women do much, much worse in terms of their health. Even a miserable wife feeds her husband vegetables, she once cleverly concluded in her Marriage, A History. (It’s a great book, absolutely 100% worth reading.)

So the idea of preserving a marriage simply because preserving marriage is what you’re supposed to do strikes me as kind of wrong-headed and — well, sexist. It’s not like Savage will have been the first gay man to give out sexist advice unthinkingly, but it’s still a surprise.

Fair Wisconsin: Wisconsin Court Upholds Domestic Partnerships

via Lambda Legal: Applying v. Doyle case summation, and the document of the actual ruling.

(Madison, Wisconsin, Monday, June 20, 2011) – Today, the Circuit Court, Branch 11 in Dane County Wisconsin upheld as constitutional the state’s Domestic Partner Registry.

Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Moeser wrote, “Ultimately, it is clear that Chapter 770 does not violate the Marriage Amendment because it does not create a legal status for domestic partners that is identical or substantially similar to that of marriage. The state does not recognize domestic partnership in a way that even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage. Moreover, domestic partners’ have far fewer legal rights, duties, and liabilities in comparison to the legal rights, duties, and liabilities of spouses.”

“The law is clear—the domestic partnership law does not violate the Wisconsin constitution,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. “The research the court provided in its ruling today is a showcase of material proving that the proponents of the antigay marriage amendment repeatedly told voters in 2006 that the Marriage Amendment would not ban domestic partnership benefits.”

In June 2009, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law, granting limited but important legal protections to same-sex couples, including hospital visitation and the ability to take a family medical leave to care for a sick or injured partner. Wisconsin Family Action, an antigay group, brought a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that the domestic partnership law is a violation of Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Shortly thereafter, Lambda Legal successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples.

“We are pleased that the Court upheld the limited protections provided by domestic partnerships because they are essential in allowing committed same-sex couples to care for each other in times of need,” said Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. This is an exciting day for Wisconsin. Domestic partnerships marked our state’s first step toward full equality in nearly 30 years. Judge Moeser’s decision will ensure that we can continue advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Wisconsinites in the years ahead.”

Woohoo! Good news for Wisconsin!

Call for NY, Call for Equality

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo today unveiled his marriage equality bill, with a possible 31 of 32 votes needed for passage. We already know the NOM, the National Organization for Marriage promised to spend $1.5 million to defeat the bill, and another $1 million to defeat any GOP Senator who votes for it. Your Senators need to hear from you?—?and you’ve got about 12 hours, because they are reportedly meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the bill. A vote could come any day, starting Wednesday, though we’ve heard reports of Friday.

Don’t let what happened in 2009 happen again. Not when we’re this close. It won’t happen again until 2013 if this fails?—?if then.

If you live in New York, we need you to make what could be the most important call of your life to these Senators, and tell them you want them to vote for the marriage equality bill.

It’s that simple.

Stephen Saland (845) 463?0840
Roy McDonald (518) 274?4616
Andrew Lanza (718) 984?4073
Greg Ball (845) 279?3773
Kemp Hannon (516) 739?1700
Charles Fuschillo (516) 882?0630
Betty Little (518) 743?0968

Also, please call Senator Dean Skelos to make clear that the people of New York?—?58% at last count?—?want marriage equality in our state. As Senate Majority Leader he should make sure that equality for all New Yorkers is our motto.

Dean Skelos (518) 455?3171

You can also go online and contact your Senators:



This could be the most-?important call of your life.

Go Milwaukee!

Chris Abele, Milwaukee’s County exec, announced his intention today to provide domestic partner health care coverage to Milwaukee county employees.

From Fair Wisconsin:

“County Executive Chris Abele’s announcement is a signal that Milwaukee County is once again moving forward under his bold and visionary leadership,” stated Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. “Providing domestic partner health care coverage to county employees is an important step toward building a fair and inclusive work environment and a strong county government. We look forward to working closely with the County Executive and the Milwaukee County Board to make this proposal a reality.”

Should Milwaukee County begin providing domestic partner health care coverage, they will join a growing number of employers who already grant their employees these critical protections, including the State of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee and Marquette University, and top private sector employers like MillerCoors.

At least someone’s got cool leadership in the state of Wisconsin!

Bad News for Marriage

I can’t say it’s precedent, as it’s happened before in Texas, but it is sad and frustrating and entirely wrong-headed.

HOUSTON — A judge was expected to void the marriage between a transgender widow and her firefighter husband who died battling a blaze and will rule in favor of the man’s mother who argued that the marriage wasn’t valid, an attorney in the case said Tuesday based on a draft of the decision.

The suit was brought by the mother of firefighter Thomas Araguz III and argued that his widow, Nikki Araguz, should not receive any death benefits. The lawsuit claimed their marriage wasn’t legal because Nikki Araguz was born a man and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Read more:

So frustrating. Our sympathies to Nikki Araguz.