Tag: My Husband Betty

A Kind of Valentine’s Day Present

Posted by – February 14, 2011

I just discovered reviews of both My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married by Samantha Anne Perrin, and they were a lovely reminder of what I do, and honestly, in reading the list of quotes she pulled from She’s Not, I thought to myself “did I take smart drugs when I was writing that, or something?” because I’m always a little surprised since from inside my head, and inside my life, I do not often feel smart — emotionally or otherwise.

I am convinced there is something about the process of writing that creates another mind altogether. When I get to that point where I feel like I’m transcribing and not writing, I know I’m there.

I especially appreciate this little explanation:

One of the criticisms I have read of this book is that it is repetitive. . . If you find yourself thinking that what you are reading is a repeat of something you have read before, you are not reading it! My suggestion would be to re-read, and re-read that passage until you ‘get’ its true meaning. Repetitive? Hell no!

The repetition was in large part intentional. I wanted the book to feel like driving up a mountain on a road that winds its way up there, seeing the same peak, the same view, over & over again, or keeping it in sight, but seeing it in a slightly different way depending on the turn of the road. It’s a hat tip of Didion & Woolf (who both do it so much better than I ever could).

But mostly I put this up today because reading her reviews reminded me of the love that went into the writing of both books, that they are, still, my gift to the lovely woman to whom I’m married.

My Husband Bitchy

Posted by – September 29, 2010

Every once in a while, I will hear that some MTF trans person has vigorously insisted that I am a bitter feminist nightmare and that no married crossdressser or transitioning transsexual should “let” their wives read My Husband Betty.

Really, “let.”

Usually, this charge is on the grounds that I ask people who are MTF trans identified – if they are not living as female & aren’t feminist – to maybe do some research into women’s lives before deciding they will and can live as one (& before expecting absolute, unquestioning acceptance of their trans nature from their female spouse).

Recently I decided to respond:

Asking a trans spouses, especially one born and raised male, to be aware of modern women’s lives isn’t too much to ask, I don’t think, if what the CD/TG is asking for in return is acceptance of their trans nature. In a nutshell, it’s a lot to ask of a spouse or a girlfriend who has just been broadsided by their partner’s trans identity. There is often an expectation that the partner will want to know things, and learn things, and go to support groups, or accompany their spouse to outings. Their gendered feelings may also need to be expressed during sex.

That is, the raised-male spouse is asking his/her wife (depending on how the person identifies) to learn a whole lot about gender variance.

In exchange, I recommend that the person raised male learn something about being a woman, to learn about feminism, discrimination, sexual harassment and violence. Most women know most of these things as a result of living in the world as a woman (and many trans women come to know these things a few years after transition). But while a male-bodied trans person is living in the world as male, they won’t be exposed to these things. (Some MTF trans spectrum individuals, like some males, are feminist and always read about these things. I’m talking about the ones who don’t.)

In a sense, then, you could say I’m asking a lot, if you think asking the trans spouse to learn as much about his/her wife’s experience of life in her body and her gender as s/he is asking her spouse to understand about what it’s like to be trans.

You know, equality, even-steven, a little give and take. It’s a nutty idea, I know.

So crossdressers: read as much about women’s lives as you want your wife to read about crossdressing, and then read some more.

Alcohol Poisoning

Posted by – July 22, 2009

I’ve been drinking.

Sadly, it was a lot of the same old same old: cursory interest in parent, partner, & children. The kids were adorable. The wife was determined. The father was exhausted.

  • Multiple shots and references to surgery, instead.
  • Trans woman discovers surprising, sudden interest in men.
  • Expresses longing to be mother while wife is pregnant.
  • Voiceover talking about wife meeting her husband for the first time “as a woman” post Thailand, even though the husband had been living in female gender role for a year as per SOC.

Atypical trans documentary bits?

  • Added insult to injury for wife, while trans woman wonders – fleetingly – if she’s married her ex-girlriend if she’d have needed to transition. Fleetingly, stressed by Prince, but goddamn do wives of trans women everywhere hate her for that one. Yeah, thanks, it’s our fault you needed to transition. Do you really think we don’t wish, sometimes, that you’d married your ex-girlfriend, too?!
  • Newly female husband going up telephone pole in gear
  • ”  ”  ” mowing lawn with reference to still “wearing the pants”
  • ‘out of the mouths of babes’ testimony that natal female still does all the parenting and housework
  • bee stings lead to discovering of IS condition which justifies transition. (the years of crossdressing certainly don’t count for shit, right?)

So yeah, I’m drunk.You?

They all seem like reasonably nice people. I hate documentaries about teh trans. Hate ‘em. I hate the way our lives our distilled into reverse camera angles and earnest questions across kitchen tables. I hate how the beauty of a trans woman admitting that she still sees her wife the way “he” did is degraded by the “sudden interest” in men. I hate the sad, confused, tendentious quality of trans women’s wives who are obviously overwhelmed with the whole business and still in love with their spouses.

* sigh*

Having been someone who has done shite like this, my only excuse is: it was in my contract. Not that that’s much of an excuse, but you do usually have a clause saying that you will in good faith blah blah blah consent to blah blah blah that will help sell the book. I’m not sure there’s any other reason to do these things anymore, but I hope, for Rene’s sake, & the boys’ sake, & the dad’s & Chloe’s, that this one will be forgotten when it’s Sweeps Week next year or in five years. Not because it’s bad, but because it isn’t. There are things I said and wrote at the time of My Husband Betty that embarass me now, as well as plenty that I”m still happy about. But I wrote a book, so when I”m lucky, you can see its brown spine in the LGBT section of bookstores these days. But a show like this is going to be dredged up at 3am for a few years, and every once too often, Rene and Chloe and her boys and dad will be online at the supermarket / drugstore / in the waiting room / at the doctor’s office / showing up for parent teacher night when someone they’ve never met couldn’t sleep and saw them on the TeeVee. And then, well, then is when you wish you could change your name and move to Timbuktu.

My best to all of them. Can we stop making these now?

Trans Documentary Drinking Game

Posted by – July 20, 2009

In light of the documentary about Chloe Prince that will air tomorrow night, I thought we should all be prepared for what looks like it’s going to be a doozy of a predictable documentary.

So, the rules, such as they are, for watching a trans documentary:

  1. Putting on makeup. Two drinks for reverse camera shot into mirror.
  2. Doing anything better done in jeans and sneakers in heels and a skirt. Examples: cleaning the house, shoveling the sidewalk, yard work, walking the dog.
  3. Before picture shown. Two drinks for picture in stereotypical male mode (sports team, facial hair, military, wedding tux)
  4. Camera shot putting on or taking off a bra.
  5. Photo of any wig, breast form, padding, etc.
  6. Surprise disclosure, when a trans woman is introduced and then partway through the piece, her secret is revealed.
  7. Camera focus on masculine body parts: hands, feet, Adam’s apple, height, etc.
  8. Any reference to genital surgery that refers to “becoming a woman” or “finally a woman”
  9. Minor chords played softly on a piano
  10. talk show host saying “you go girl”
  11. any discussion of plumbing or electricity
  12. black and white childhood shots, MTF with cap gun and cowboy hat, FTM as ballerina.
  13. Trans woman saying, “I am not a crossdresser. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
  14. Trans woman clutching large teddy bear in hospital bed.
  15. Birthday balloons after surgery.
  16. Trans woman with new boyfriend (after shot of tearful ex-wife).
  17. Trans woman sitting in chair in above-the-knee skirt, posed so you can see what great gams she has.
  18. Patient wheeled off to surgery …
  19. … lingering shot of the hospital bed with the teddy bear (or wife) left behind.
  20. Shot of protaganist sitting at the computer keyboard, looking at a trans support website or surgeon’s website….
  21. Any helping professional teaching deportment
  22. Camera in the operating room – just drink the whole bottle
  23. Any and all deployments of soft focus = 1 shot
  24. Close up of dotted lines in magic marker on pale fleshy body parts = 1 shot
  25. Earnest surgeon describes his motivation as “to help [girlname] become the woman she’s always really felt herself to be” = 3 shots
  26. Before picture with extreme facial hair – 1 shot
  27. Before picture in uniform – Military, Football, etc… – 2 shots
  28. Video from hair removal session : Laser – 1 shot, electrolysis – 2 shots
  29. Before picture – Last time she wore a dress (F2M) – 1 shots
  30. Breast binding – 2 shots
  31. Taking Hormones – Self-injecting -3 shots, orals – 1 shot
  32. Did anyone mention an arduous and lonely childhood?
  33. Meeting the school bully as “the new me” at the High School reunion?
  34. Looking at the old picture of self and saying something to the effect of “he was a nice guy….” or “Ken was a lot of fun, but his time is over. It’s Ginger’s turn now!”
  35. Trans woman claiming to have IS chromosomal pattern, an affinity for washing dishes, a sudden dislike of sports, etc.

Believe it or not, these are not the most snarky suggestions by some of our mHB board members. Also remember: there are quite a few people who hang out on our boards who have done this kind of media work, including me & Betty, of course, but also Jenny Boylan, amongst others. We need to laugh at ourselves as much as we laugh at the inanity of it all.

Twelve-Steppers should find their own version, of course. Maybe those ice cream poppers? But the point is to feel as physically ill by the end as the drinking crowd.

(Thanks and love to Gwen Smith who wrote her own version of this back in 2005 and to anyone else who has posted their version of this game.)

High Tech Nerds R Us

Posted by – July 15, 2009

In this cool article about Massachusetts’ push for transgender civil rights, the great geek/trans intersection is once again revealed:

In her office down the hall, Zircher, who holds many software patents, has three computer screens and two keyboards. On the bookshelf are titles such as “Advanced Windows Debugging’’ and “Hunting Security Bugs.’’ There’s also: “She’s Not The Man I Married’’ and “My Husband Betty.’’

Our thanks to Bella English and to Dana Zircher for the mention.

Inconvenient

Posted by – July 8, 2009

In response to this last post, I received this short email:

“My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser”

This is where you loose me Helen. You say you don’t use words like “Husband or Wife”….but then you write books using that exact terminology.

Very confusing.

I responded:

I wrote that book 6 years ago. My thinking is surely allowed to change, no?

He responded:

Convenient. No?

& I responded:

Is that how you’d talk to Betty about her decision to transition? That it was “convenient”?

My partner was a self-identified straight drag queen when we met, with a male identity.

She is living as a woman & doing what paperwork she can to reflect that.

One of the reasons I can’t & don’t use “husband” anymore is because people then start using “he” pronouns about my partner. She is not a he. To avoid that, I avoid the gendered terminology that leads to it.

When she had a genderqueer/androgynous presentation, she didn’t mind mixing up the pronouns – as I did in the 2nd book. Now, “he” chafes her, doesn’t fit.

So sue me for having had to make adjustments – especially ones that are entirely out of consideration of my partner’s gender.

Please don’t write back. Your response was rude beyond belief. I shouldn’t be justifying it with a response at all, but I like to give people a fair shake.

If I stop using “husband” then it’s somehow just “convenient” that I’m doing so. Surely it couldn’t have anything to do with my partner’s change in gender! *sigh* I’m having one of those days.

Map the Fallen

Posted by – May 24, 2009

Thanks to MHB boardie Viva Zoya, I’ve found Map the Fallen – an online tool to track where the soldiers who have died were from.

There’s also a cool Twitter campaign in honor of the recently fallen.

Sex Resources for Trans Women

Posted by – May 23, 2009

Today’s Feministing “Ask Professor Foxy” column is from a trans woman who can’t find good sex resources for her. I’ve made a few suggestions, but maybe you all know other good places to check. So far I’ve recommended:

With your input, I can put a bigger list together.

Amazon Filters Out Queer/Sex Books

Posted by – April 12, 2009

Not books about queer sex per se, although I’m sure those are included, but books about sexuality and/or queer topics, have lost their rankings at amazon.com. Mine included.

As Mark Probst reported, they are removing the rankings of these books exactly so they do not appear in “some searches and best seller lists.”

My Husband Betty was often categorized either in sexuality sections or in LGBT sections, but She’s Not the Man I Married is classified as a Gender Studies book.

This is bullshit. Amazon.com already gets crap ratings on the T with HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. When you see a book you like is missing its sales rank, that’s probably why: they’re filtering LGBT books out of their lists. Aside from being a bad business decision, it’s discriminatory and – well, just stupid for booksellers to be censoring their lists.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: When you find a book  that doesn’t have a sales rank, please send Amazon a message using the feedback page provided – scroll down toward the end of the page, & look for a Feedback box shaded light blue.

& GOOGLEBOMB: link to this page that redefines “amazon rank” more accurately.

RIP Lux

Posted by – February 13, 2009

Wow I have been busy, only finding out today, care of Penny on the MHB boards, that Lux Interior died this past week. He was half of the band The Cramps, well-loved punk rock psychedelic rockabilly band.

Yes, that all goes together.

RIP, Lux. & May your heaven be paved in gold lame.

This is them doing “What’s Inside a Girl?” (which was one of my favorite tracks):

The Boards

Posted by – January 3, 2009

The mHB message boards are back up.

The Boards

Posted by – January 2, 2009

The mHB message boards are down for now, & will probably go back up sometime this weekend. There was a bit too much acrimony going on for us to manage with very limited internet access and we needed to talk amongst ourselves about their future.

So hold tight, & they’ll be back.

Douglass

Posted by – December 26, 2008

One of the partners on our MHB boards mentioned recently that she’d never apply for an LGBT scholarship, because she doesn’t identify as LGBT, and it reminded me that I never told the story about me & the LGBT Blogger Initiative Conference I went to.

It seems I am perplexing to people, & I felt a little bit like an odd duck while I was there. It came up because at some point, someone announced that grants might become available for LGBT bloggers, and a few people told me that they hoped I would get one. But someone also mentioned that they could see others have an issue with the fact that I’m not LGB or T. My standard response these days is – “I’m the Q that gets left off a lot.”

But still it’s an issue that has come up, & may come up even moreso that I’m thinking about going back to grad school. Will I choose, like the partner above, not to apply for any LGBT scholarships? As a sort of liminal queer, probably I wouldn’t, except that then there’s the whole issue of what I do & what I’d want to study – which is all about the LGBT, and the T in particular.

The other question I was asked, which I’ve been asked before, is why? Why the trans community? & To be honest, I just don’t know. I was charmed by my very first meetings with trans people, & continue to have a deep love for the trans community & for trans people. Aside from my Debsian sense of social justice, that is.

Tim McFeeley did a wonderful “short history of the LGBT movement” (which I was pleased to note I knew cold!) as a workhop that Sunday morning, and he closed with a quote by Frederick Douglass:

When I ran away from slavery, it was for myself; when I advocated emancipation, it was for my people; but when I stood up for the rights of women, self was out of the question, and I found a little nobility in the act.

That’s my answer & I’m sticking to it.

Congrats to Diego Sanchez

Posted by – December 18, 2008

Congratulations to Diego Sanchez for his new appointment as Barney Frank’s senior policy advisor.

There are misgivings, of course, precisely because Sanchez has worked with HRC & crossed picket lines in SF to speak at an HRC dinner (when even the SF mayor wouldn’t).

(I’m going to agree with Courtney, who wondered aloud on the MHB forums, as to whether or not Frank will be comfortable sharing a bathroom with him.)

Party with MHB

Posted by – December 18, 2008

Some of the lovely folks at the MHB forums went out tonight for a little holiday gathering – dinner & conversation followed by drinks at a bar on 14th Street – and it was truly lovely.

Thank you all for coming. Because of Betty’s ongoing dental surgeries, and her broken foot, we haven’t been out in a long time, so it felt really great to be out & about, chatting with folks we knew & some we got to meet tonight.

Letter To a Wife

Posted by – November 21, 2008

My friend Shirene, who I met while I was researching My Husband Betty, and at a SPICE conference to boot, has contined to work with wives who have just found out their husbands are crossdressers. She wrote this letter recently to one such wife, and I thought it was worth sharing here, for any husband who might want to use it to help come out to his wife, or for any wife who has just found out.

I don’t necessarily agree with how she simplifies certain issues – like the “crossdressers are heterosexual” meme – but a lot of the rest of it is a good “talking down” for a new wife who might be completely panicking.

Dear Jill,

Hi.  I hope you don’t mind receiving a letter like this from a stranger, but my husband is  transgender also and I know that if I could have received a letter such as this when I found out, it would have made it easier on both me and my husband. My name is Shirene, I’m 43, we live in S******, IL and I’ve known about Shayla since ‘98.  We’re at 555 555 5555.

I will admit it’s somewhat of an adapted form letter so please ignore the things that don’t apply to your situation and please excuse the things I’m telling you that you already know. More

Not a Goomba*

Posted by – October 17, 2008

I was just bitching on the MHB boards that nearly all the only portrayals of Italian-Americans is mafia related, and people pointed out a few others – like did you know Elaine on Seinfeld was supposed to be Catholic? Nice try, but she wasn’t. Other than Ray Romano, Fonzi and Al from Happy Days, there seems to be a real dearth of the rest of us that isn’t Sopranos-esque.

* Goomba, or goombah, is a term used to describe a stereotypical Italian-American, & in a few dictionaries, implies a connection to the mob. & Yes, it’s also the name of one of the bad guys in Super Mario.

I didn’t have any goodfellas in my own Italian family, and we’re even Sicilian / Calabrian. I tend to describe my dad as “the other kind of Italian” because he is – more Joe DiMaggio than Godfather. Mostly if it’s not mafia it’s about food, or more likely, it’s about both. But honestly, is there a culture where the food isn’t important? My Big Fat Greek Wedding got closer to my experience of being Italian-American than any of those goomba movies.

& These days, in New York, there’s about three blocks left of Little Italy; Chinatown has been encroaching for years, and Italians left the city – for everywhere. (Though the midwest could use a few more, because finding inexpensive, good Italian food in Wisconsin leaves you at Pizza Hut. ugh.) But at least now there’ll be a museum of the whole Italian-American experience, located where Little Italy used to be.

(Thanks to Nettie, Caprice, VM, & Donna, all of whom put in their two cents.)

change.org

Posted by – October 13, 2008

I was poking around recently, trying to find out about a PSA that we’d been discussing in the mHB forums lately which is about trying to discourage kids to say “that’s so gay” when they mean “that’s not cool” when I found that the PSA is part of a larger campaign by The Ad Council & GLSEN to “think b4 you speak.” I love the idea, and not just because “that’s so gay” is unnecessarily homophobic, but because I so wish people didn’t use language so carelessly.

As a result I found change.org, which is a huge social issues/activist-oriented collection of blogs on various issues. There’s a blog on women’s rights, animal rights, global warming, immigration, and of course gay rights, which – lo & behold! – has me on its recommended reading list. How cool is that?

Great resource for us social justice types, so do go check it out.

Albanian Sworn Virgins in Decline

Posted by – October 7, 2008

The tradition of Albanian Sworn Virgins is dying out, & the implication is that it’s dying out because women can now do things that women weren’t allowed to do before:

This is the last generation of sworn virgins, according to Aferdita Onuzi, a professor at Tirana’s Cultural, Anthropology and Arts Research Institute. In Albania these days, women enter parliament, government ministries, and the police force.

But I wonder if it’s as simple as that, since homosexuality became legal in Albania in the 1990s, too, and surely this was one path for a woman who didn’t want to marry the man chosen for her – either because she didn’t like him or didn’t like men.

(Much thanks to Caprice; we have a few other posts about the tradition on the MHB boards.)

Prince Charming

Posted by – August 3, 2008

Thanks to Emily on the mhb message boards for this one, antfans: