(Partner) Anger & Trauma

I wrote this piece for our message boards in a thread about how/if trans people deal with their partners’ anger. It reiterated, for me, why I want to see the trans community understand feminist issues a little better & bring them more to the fore.

One thing that I wasn’t aware of & only recently discovered: it turns out that anger is one of the symptoms of trauma. There are so many of us women raised female with trauma in their lives – & in a lot of cases, with unexpressed or untreated trauma. Even treated PTSD doesn’t mean it goes away, but only that it’s there to be managed.

So I suggest, delicately I hope, that sometimes the transition of a spouse that has provided a sense of safety & security otherwise can be a kind of “last straw” for a woman raised female who has lived through other kinds of trauma.

The cycle of trauma that women can deal with goes something like this: (1) bad shit happens to you, which increases (2) your need for an SO, which creates (3) anger & self-criticism due to feeling that you need/are dependent on anyone for any reason, which fuels (4) anger that said security/safety is being taken away by transition, which is all exacerbated by (5) complete lack of awareness that most/any/all of this is happening, and (6) your spouse’s inability to understand that most/any/all of this is happening too, which is further frustrated by (7) an inability to talk about the trauma, the self-criticism, the dependency, or the anger.

Which is why, once again, I wish there were more awareness of feminist issues within trans communities. I have heard too many trans women react to their insanely-angry wives with hostility & even derision, & that maybe, if they understood women & their lives a little better, they might riddle that frustration with empathy.

We have been through shit too. Trans people are not the only ones who suffer, or who want relief from pain & maybe even to feel something like “normal.” & Goddamn when you have found your pain relief, in the form of a gentle man who provides you with solace & laughter & stability, only to find out that he is not who either of you thought she was.

40 Replies to “(Partner) Anger & Trauma”

  1. Thank you for saying these things.
    I really liked how you laid out the cycle of traumas.
    We need a book about this topic with a few chapters on Anger

  2. This is a critically important issue. Trauma and PTSD are life threatening conditions. One does not need to undergo conventionally accepted experiences that manifest PTSD and trauma, such as military combat, to undergo the significant impact of those horrors.

    This convergence, trans – trauma really needs to be researched and explained.

    Your insights are really uncovering the trigger points of how trans life impacts reality. Kudos dear….

  3. Is is too easy sometimes to forget that our actions have many significant interdependant consequences for others. It makes it so much worse for those who already love, accept and support us when we don’t extend the very empathy we seek to those few in our lives who have already given it of themselves.
    How can we ever expect acceptance as a human being if we fail to act as one?

  4. “… only to find out that he is not who either of you thought she was.”

    This is crucial. It’s also one of my biggest peeves among TS people. I realize that individual’s experiences vary, but let’s be real here. You _know_ what your situation / condition / whatever-you-want-to-label-it is early on, long before puberty. To claim otherwise is simply being untruthful. One can’t deceive oneself about this the way some gays take a while to realize their sexuality for the fact that gender is more profound than sexuality.

    It is impossible to build a real, lasting relationship if it is founded on a lie.

  5. There are sociological, external energies, generational factors that might ameliorate recognition of the TS condition early on. In my case, my fist waking moment, at age three, was associated with being a girl. (I will spare you all the details. You know them anyway. Most of you have lived it.) So recognition is early for most of us. Yet, how to handle it is a huge issue.

    Within family and societal constructs, as well as the attempt to discern this massive dichotomy between a state of being and the body one has in childhood and later, there are many permutations. There are many who state, “I will grow out of it.” Or, “No this is impossible! It can’t be!” To, OK, this is what I am. But I “must” change it!” To, “You vile piece of garbage (while looking in the mirror), why aren’t you a man inside?”

    We have all had these thoughts I am sure. So sometimes, sublimation of this condition can lead to massive denial.

    Given this conundrum, it still is not right to deceive. Indeed, sacrificing the TS condition for the sake of family and societal responsibility is probably more endemic to being TS (TG) than selfishly manipulating someone with an honest heart.

  6. Catrina.

    I don’t want to turn this into an ugly flame war sort of thing, but there is no amount of sublimation that excuses such behavior.

    Those “permutations” are nothing more than layer after layer of pathetic veneer, and we _know_ it, in the same way that letting another day slip by without doing something allows us to regret it all the more, so much so that we begin to regret the passing of another day before it’s even past.

    The generational, societal, familial, and other factors are irrelevant as far as recognition is concerned. Certainly they affect how one handles it, which can of course be regrettable or deplorable or some other unsavory adjective.

    In reference to your final paragraph, there is no such thing as sacrificing the TS condition for the sake of family and societal responsibility. Suppressing it cripples you and does a disservice to everyone involved; you have no “real” relationships and everything is false because you are an inauthentic being.

  7. Dear Pannonica and all:

    Your comments are extremely insightful and very respected. I don’t think they are flaming at all. Please allow a clarification.

    In reference to the original post about the person not being honest with a spouse, please understand that my commentary did not condone such behavior. Indeed, it amplifies how inappropriate it is. This person manipulated and deceived someone’s heart. That person hid themselves for selfish purpose. That is entirely wrong. Sensitivity to those that love must be cherished.

    Your are quite correct, hiding these issues are very much deleterious to us all. But sometimes the fog and denial surrounding this condition is massive, particularly in the earlier years of its more common emergence when no one really knew much about it. Isolation is huge. Indeed, Helen’s books really bring home how closeted and isolated the trans community was and still very much is…. how much “bad” psychology is out there when T people try to reach out and find nothing but air. However, this is improving thankfully for the next generation.

    That was really one of the essential points I was trying to make. Fortunately society, to some degree is becoming far more intuitive about being trans. My care giver states that there are many more T people transitioning and expressing themselves in many ways at a far younger age. This is a wonderful development for the next generation.

    Many people face extremely difficult choices derived from extremely difficult realities when trying to address who they really are. It is quite true that not being honest to yourself debilitates, especially that person that denies the inner self. You are quite correct.

    Yet, that in itself sometimes can not be expressly clear when pondering what to do. Instead, traditional established societal values ala WWII and the Fifties, the need to feed an extended family in a career that is intolerant of change, the expectation of male family members, and the love that is inherent through their expression, can overwhelm the senses and force a sacrifice.

    In this case, you are so very correct, such a decision debilitates the life.


  8. Catrina. I think we’re agreed on all the major points. I’m cognizant of the constraints and ignorance of earlier generations and, like you, am heartened (and envious of the beneficiaries) by the trend of being able to transition earlier (undoing the ravages of puberty is at least half the battle, being appropriately socialized is another huge piece). Unfortunately, I don’t find it as easy to forgive the self-betrayal, and by extension, betrayal of everyone and everything held dear for the sake of keeping up appearances.

    I too understood where I was at a young age, though I can’t for the life of me recall anything as early as three. I also knew that my parents would not be able to help me, therefore I would have to keep it to myself until I was in a position to self-actualize. Yet, I never, ever kept my capital-s Secret from the people I dated. I repeat, a relationship with a fictional foundation is doomed to failure. It isn’t selfishness, it’s weakness. And it ultimately benefits no one.

    When you say that “that person manipulated and deceived someone’s heart” and “hid themselves for selfish purpose,” I see that as a fallacy. If you weren’t already that way to start with, being transsexual sure as heck makes you introspective. In this light, which is more selfish, being true to yourself or trying to please someone else? The truth is, to transition and undertake that “amazing journey” (cue saccharine music), one must be selfish, but in this case being selfish is not objectionable or reprehensible because ultimately everyone benefits. Yes, there is massive discomfort, but there are few things in life worth accomplishing that don’t involve pain and loss and sacrifice.

    As an addendum to my earlier comment, it occurs to me that many would consider a post-op transsexual an “inauthentic being.” I honestly don’t know where to take that, because it’s an existential conundrum wrapped in an enigma, garnished with the biggest can of worms you’re likely to see.

  9. Pannonica Dear:
    We really are on the same page. In the case of the person that did not advise the spouse what was really the inner desire drivers, to me, that is manipulation. Although I might be off on the facts, I understand that “he” was seeking a BDSM relationship that focused on traditional gender roles. They met when that person was presenting male. If “he”, in his male role, really was cognizant that transition was the real causality for the relationship, don’t you think that is manipulation especially “if “he” was cognizant of that when they met?”

    This goes to your point of knowing what we are and recognizing that being, which is quite accurate. But with that acknowledgment, “do no harm”. It also attempts to project a deep empathy with spouses that are struggling with their deep emotions about someone they deeply love, and are very vulnerable to, that chooses to transition but does not tell when they meet. (within a reasonable time frame.) Your honesty is precisely what is needed to not harm spouses vulnerability. Don’t you think?

    Just last night Nightline did a segment on the MS Exec that recently transitioned. They interviewed the exec’s second wife. She said, had she known about the TG issue, she would not have married the exec. Please bear in mind they were only married two years and had dated before that for about a year. The exec admitted to never telling her that anything was “out of the ordinary”. The segment emphasized that the exec presented a very masculine image until the announcement to transition. If the exec presented male so thoroughly to her while dating, without advising her of the uncomfortable sense of being the exec fully admitted existed while the exec was dating her, the exec did her a disservice, precisely for the issue that you so validly bring up. The exec was not being truthful to herself and to others. In my opinion, this is massively unfair to the spouse. The exec stated that she had considered transition at that time. However, the exec did acknowledge that she had known about being trans for a long time.

    The exec’s spouse has a tough situation here. To complicate the issue for the spouse, before announcing the need to transition, they had a child who appeared in the segment to be only be a year old. What is the spouse to do? Fortunately, the exec makes approx $1,000,000 a year at MS. That kind of income can ameliorate a lot of problems.

    However, I empathize with the spouse…. 🙂

    Just to lighten up the issue, re the three year old experience. It was my first waking moment that I remember. I went to my older sister’s closet, put on one of her dresses that I really liked, walked into the living room, asked if I could have the dress after my sister and maybe wear when she wasn’t wearing it now…. and my father beat me to an inch of my three year old life.

    The memory is well remembered.

  10. Goodness. So light and inconsequential! Now I can appreciate why the memory is so strong. “Thanks, pop!” Unfortunately I was smart and clever and sneaky enough to know to conceal such desires. Hooray for me.

    Stories such as the one about the MS executive sicken me. I have zero, zero sympathy for that person and every iota of same for the spouse(s) and child. Similarly, I have contempt for, among others, Jennifer Boylan (Finney is such cold comfort, dear) and hometown favorite Betty.

    Sorry to be controversial here, but I think it’s been established how I approach honesty. Boylan’s memoir was a typical egotistical author’s narcissismfest, and her notion that getting married and having children was going to “save” or otherwise “fix” her was so much rot, and she knew it. When I read Helen’s first book, I couldn’t suppress my contempt for Betty and pathos for Helen, because it was painfully obvious to me that subconsciously Helen intuited that Betty was lying and allowed herself to believe the lies because she so much wanted to; the knowledge practically oozes from between the lines.

    Yes, being transsexual is tough, but that in no way excuses being inhuman.

    Catrina, I’m sorry to report that I’m not sophisticated enough to understand your explanation in that first paragraph, about BDSM(?) and whatnot. To me it’s simple; you are who you are and you treat others as you would have them treat you. If it’s some sort of role-playing thing, then that’s what it is and it isn’t a relationship, it’s a game.

    I don’t know how vindictive or insecure Helen is, so I might not be around for more posts. In any case, it’s nice to have made your acquaintance. And to everyone: I’m sorry to have hijacked a thread about spouses and their tribulations and turned it into a rant. Transsexual people are very selfish sometimes, as I think I mentioned.

  11. Wow. All that venom and just for little ‘ol me?

    I’m flattered.

    What else can you tell about me, pray tell?

    Let me put it this way – although I’m sure that you will just tell me I’m a fool, but hey, what the fuck – I was as honest with Helen as I was with myself every step of the way. And every time I peeled the onion back I told her what I discovered. Right then and there. Even when I knew that my findings were going to cause her hurt and anguish. But, as my partner in this life, she deserved to know.

    You are under no obligation to believe that.

    But it’s true.

    Here’s what I find contempuous: the pathological need to extrapolate one’s own story onto others. Because, quite frankly, you have no fucking clue what anyone else feels, thinks and experiences. All you have to go on is your own experience in this world. Which means that the only person you are an authority about is you.

    I also find it amusing – yes, in the snort guffaw way – that you were able to intuit SO much from reading between the lines. I’m here to tell you, uncategorically, that if Helen has something to say, she says it. There’s no need for “ooze.”

    But then again, I’m married to her and, um, you’re not. So how could you know?

    And yes, you’ve actually scored in the stereotypical transsexual selfish git way by hijacking a thread about partners. Thanks for keeping the meme alive!


  12. i never felt and do not believe betty was lying to me anymore than she might have been lying to herself. & yes, i think i did know before she did, in some ways — sometimes we’re our own worst enemies in avoiding our own truths, no? — but never for a minute did i feel that betty was manipulating me, or lying by not telling me something she already knew.

    as for ooze. well. i try not to do that in public.

    neither vindictively nor with insecurity,

  13. As literate people, you both know that an author isn’t always aware of the significance of what he or she is writing. Please read closely: I stated that Helen’s recognition was _subconscious_.

    Talk about selfish, Betty. “All that venom for little ol’ ” you was one sentence. Why so sarcastic, defensive, and profane? There isn’t anything pathological or extrapolatory about what I said. The psychological and scientific literature is in agreement about the general experience of transsexualism, which is different from that of the the “gender-fluid” pikers. I take the pop-culture memoirs such as Boylan’s as guilt-ridden, attention-seeking, apologias; they are certainly not reliable or authoritative.

    I understand that it’s hard to live with oneself when one is being monstrous, but it’s no excuse to cover the eyes and cause suffering in others.

    Incidentally, why did you both seize on the scatological “ooze” in my post?

  14. Wow, well you’re just a cunt wrapped in fifty-cent words and topped with a holier-than-thou halo, now aren’tcha?

    Go away. Your robotic moralism is of no interest to us emotionally complex humans. Come back when you’ve been programmed with sympathy.

    [and FYI, I’m a partner, so if I’m “flaming,” at least it’s on topic.]

  15. i heard “ooze” sexually, so i imagine the scat is your own problem.

    how can it be possible for me not to know what i know subconsciously yet for a trans person not to have the same experience? that’s just silly.

    i appreciate what you call sympathy for wives & children of trans people. but do try, just maybe, to extend that sympathy to trans people as well.

  16. Rocketqueen,

    Wow. That post was like Hobbes’ view of life: nasty, brutish, and short.

    I also found it to be reactionary and unfounded in its criticism. “Robotic moralism”? Sounds good, but what does it mean, and how does it apply to me? Accusing me of being simplistic only exposes your own absolutism. “Go away”? I’m sorry you find it so easy to be dismissive and apparently consider my contributions so worthless.

    Now, I’m going to try to resist stooping to your variety of knee-jerk, wagon-circling attacks. It’s going to be difficult, but I’m going to try.

    We’ve strayed from the topic a bit, but I don’t know what other forum would be appropriate to continue this discussion, especially since we’re all here now. I hope I’m not the only one who thinks it’s relevant and important.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m far from perfect and have never claimed otherwise. I’m not so self-righteous. Neither do I hate myself (if that’s what you’re thinking) nor feel a traitor or unsympathetic to transsexuals. As Helen points out I have been essentially agreeing with the original posting (trying to get back on topic here); transsexuals get so much of the sympathy from others and mollifying self-pity from their self-absorbed selves that the plight of their spouses and partners is lost in the soup. I’ve been advocating empathy and sympathy for them, trying to promote equilibrium.. After all, isn’t it a massive injustice to betray, hurt, and lie to the very people from whom we ourselves seek understanding, support, and love?

    Pointing out an ugly truth in which honesty is a casualty and everyone is a victim is something I am extremely passionate about and felt compelled to voice.

    nb: the other components of Hobbes’ description are “solitary” and “poor,” things I trust none of us emotionally complex humans want.

  17. Helen: because the transsexual person does not know it subconsciously, but rather consciously. It is profound self-knowledge that cannot be obscured.

    Hmm, maybe you’re right about the scattiness of “ooze,” though I don’t consider myself to be preoccupied with that sort of thing. Perhaps I was a bit shocked by some of the language Betty’s message. *smile*

    As for the cattiness, I apologize. This robot unit gets emotional sometimes.

  18. You shouldn’t be shocked at my language. That’s how I talk. I curse. I like it. It has nothing to do with my gender. Rocketqueen (whom I know well) also talks like that in real life. We’re from Brooklyn. We curse. Deal.

    I would also like to add that it was you that started this by calling me contemptible. While not an actual curse word, I think it safe to say it’s a fighting word.

    I disagree, fundamentally, with your assertion that transsexuality is profound self-knowledge that cannot be subsumed. Perhaps that is true for you, but as I tried to point out above, what is true for you does not mean it is true for others.

    That’s the thrust of your argument and I find it contemptible. There is an inherent arrogance to your position. You are basically saying that because A was true for you, therefore A must be true for everyone. And I couldn’t disagree more.

    Finally, in case you don’t know this: I’m a huge partner advocate. I’ve spent the last few years publicly and privately making the case that partners have rights equal – if different – to transpeople and that transpeople would do well to acknowledge them. But to denigrate the individual experiences of transpeople while trying to acknowledge the real trauma of the partner only serves to obfuscate rather than illuminate. And that is what I think you’re doing.

    But whatever. I’m sure you’ll come back on with some pithy statement that further muddies your initial point.

    There. And I did it without curse words.

  19. Also, I would encourage you to join the message boards on this website. I would like to see the conversation your ideas would, um, engender there. There’s quite the range of transpeople plus partners participating.

    You could even find out what Jenny Boylan thinks of your ideas.

    You certainly don’t strike me as a wilting lily. You did after all attack me (or call me a name) on my partners own website.

    Seriously, jump in. I think you’d find it an interesting exercise.

  20. Why make the assumption that I found it shocking because of your gender?. I just figured that it’s unnecessary in a supposedly civil and intellectual forum. Besides, I thought it was quite obvious that I was mocking myself.

    As for your zealotry. Guilt. Pithy enough?

    Thanks for ignoring my references to published studies and repeating your earlier assertion. And for ignoring the way that I’ve tried to return to the gist of the topic, claiming that I’m some sort of point-muddler.

    Lastly, you’re not even from the City, much less Brooklyn. You just happen to be there and have co-opted it.

    Dammit, I wanted to avoid stooping.

  21. Thank you for the invitation, Betty, but I’m really not interested in being part of the “trans-community” because I to me it’s an artificial construct. Call me conservative, but I’m interested in integrating into the larger society as woman.

    The only reason I commented here was because it’s an observation that I strongly felt needed to be made.

    I understand that I wouldn’t have been able to have gotten where I am without pioneers and proclaimers, and for that I’m grateful. However, what motivates them to do so is a mystery to me.

    Why should I care what Jennifer Boylan thinks of me or my ideas?

  22. Sorry, zing! nope. I don’t advocate for ANYTHING based on guilt. Thanks for projecting. Try again.

    Your published studies are next to meaningless to me. It’s YOUR assertions that I have problems with. And again, you won’t even acknowledge the central thrust of my argument: to wit, you can only speak for yourself and it’s arrogant and contemptible to think you can speak for anyone else.

    Cut the shit about co-opting Brooklyn. I’ve ADOPTED it as my home because it’s the first place I’ve ever lived that felt like home. So go fuck yourself and your holier-than-thou attitude.

    And I’ll remind you that you’re the one who started this brouhaha by expressing your contempt for me.

    You don’t seem interested in a civil, intellectual discussion. You seem interested in this jeremiad you’re on. Moreover you seem interested in persuing this via passive-aggressive tactics and there is nothing in the world that pisses me off more than that kind of behavior.

    Also, I didn’t invite you to any kind of a “community.” I invited you to a message board. Conflate much?

    I didn’t think you’d be interested in what Jenny Boylan thinks of you or your ideas, I did think however, you’d have the cojones to say it to her personally, since you had no problem expressing your contempt for me here. And since she reads the boards, you’d have your chance.

  23. what published studies? i’m unaware that anyone had categorically concluded that transsexuals always know they’re transsexual.

    and even if they have — so? published studies can be wrong, & have been, quite often, when it comes to transsexualism.

  24. “As for your zealotry. Guilt. Pithy enough?”

    This is the one that pisses me off more than anything, I think.

    Who the fuck are you to diagnose my advocacy?

    I’m going to propose that you put out the word “guilt” because it serves to support your position.

    A position, I would add, that is all about you and your attitudes. A position that dismisses any other opinions and experiences as “contemptible” because they don’t align with yours. A position that, frankly, only serves to reinforce the negative stereotype of transpeople as self-involved shitheads.

    If – and that’s a big IF – you come back here I’m sure you’re going to say something along the lines that my “zealotry” is about something else. But frankly, based on what you’ve said, I’m not sure how you’re going to make that argument. I am, however, awaiting the sophistry involved that will get you there.

    It’s funny. You’ve actually proved my point: You cannot speak for anyone other than yourself.

  25. “Thank you for the invitation, Betty, but I’m really not interested in being part of the “trans-community” because I to me it’s an artificial construct. Call me conservative, but I’m interested in integrating into the larger society as woman.”

    Yeah, well good luck with that, sparky. Of course, there are women who are fully integrated into the larger society who are total assholes, so you have a shot.

  26. The point, in case you’re wondering if I’m just being a potty-mouthed asshole myself, is that proclamations of Total Integration are really very quaint when they come from someone who has demonstrated in just a few paragraphs an inability or unwillingness to, you know. Integrate. Or consider someone else’s Integration (be it the Society at Large, The Trans Community, Brooklyn, or wherever it is you think people should consider themselves citizens).

  27. Wow… Have I missed out on this thread!

    Might I comment to pannonica?

    A. “Read Helen’s first book: What book did you read dear? It certainly was not the book I read. What I sensed in both Helen’s books was a massive love, an interweaving of loving and timeless consciousness between to higher selves living in uniquely compatible lives! The love in that book was so overwhelming that I simply had to meet these two wonderful “soul mates” and traveled over four hours to Appleton just to say hi. They did not know me…. and still really don’t. I just wanted to contribute to their love and caring for a moment’s time.

    It is not for anyone to declare how people interweave their lives and loves. It certainly is for Helen to discuss her wisdom’s emergence “with” Betty only if she so chooses. Yet might I ask a few rhetorical questions that I found, in perspective, to already be answered in Helen’s books.

    Have you ever thought that Helen has grown in her love and wisdom simultaneously with Betty while Betty “unpeels her trans onion”? Is there not a richness of life transcendent for both that is being uncovered by their mutual caring love?

    (Betty’s honesty to Helen was well codified in both books “to the extent that she knew it at the time.” Both are expanding their consciousness, enriching their lives while uncovering gifts and recognitions little known in mass consciousness! That basis in honesty has allowed deep insights into the nature of us all to flourish. We want to hear more of that richness!)

    These questions do not reflect some Esalen Institute sacharin. There are always questions and occasional discord within the context of love and mutual caring. That is surely an aspect of wisdom. But those pale when an inner thread of timeless bonding permeates outer experience.

    As to instantaneously knowing 100% of what one is, this is quite inaccurate. This trans consciousness is a difficult onion to peel, dear. Numerous threads weave within ones own consciousness, those who we love and interact with, and the society as a whole.

    Just to reference an experience mentioned in this board, my father really did think he was doing the “right thing”. But it was 1954, not 2004. That was his consciousness, his paradigm. It certainly affected my destiny. But how I can judge that? I can only laugh and observe how different it is today.

    Please also note, I do not, nor will I ever condemn the MS exec, even while saying it was not the right thing to do. Trans “confusion” does not suddenly creep into consciousness in two years especially in your mid thirties. Instead, I empathize with the spouse trying to express heart felt caring for her. This is where we part company. These thoughts do not contain any condemnation.

    The discernment of true reality, the reality manifested from the expression of inner minds and hearts is slowly coming into conscious reality. All one needs to do is understand the core relation, in joy and mutual happiness sharing with both Helen and Betty, as they took their marriage vows, while the Minister stated, “You may now kiss the groom!”

    Such a wonderful vignette expresses the weaving of their selves with the revelry of their inner expression.

    I see no narcissism or duplicity there at all…..


  28. Apologies for being away so long. I had a soul-crushingly awful day on Saturday, so much so that if I believed in karmic retribution I’d say it was for antagonizing the clique here. And Sunday was a day of recovery; I’m not exactly the unwilting lily Betty suggests.

    I really don’t think I’ll have much to say after this one, so I’m going to try to make it as inclusive as possible. Forgive me if I ramble.

    Never did I assert that the self-knowledge is a fully-formed, 100% recognition, but one does figure it out at an early age. Yes, this is my so-far immutable point. It’s a simple, discrete, yet immense, thing. (People’s subsequent experiences and interactions vary tremendously, and I don’t project mine on anyone else.) I truly, deeply, thoroughly find it nearly impossible to believe that an obviously intelligent, self-reflective and essentially good person (as most transsexuals indeed are) can be so ignorant or even, dare I say it, stupid to not grasp this profound inner truth. I prefer to believe it’s an instance of momentary weakness and a well-intended unwillingness to hurt others, which eventually snowballs. Perhaps I should refine my statements and say that I have contempt for the act, not the person. Support the troops not the war, hate the crime not the criminal, rah-rah.

    Helen, you’re much more conversant and current with the literature than I am; I admit that I can’t name specific studies offhand, and can only rely what I absorbed and internalized when I was reading them more intently, seeking validation. Nevertheless, the common thread among transsexual experiences is of first knowing at a very young age. In fact. it’s one of the key experiences we site to justify the drastic steps we undertake to align our physical selves with our mental selves.

    My point is and has been, in regard to partners and spouses, that there would be so much less psychic trauma, of a horrible mess involving soul-searching recriminations and angry accusations, requiring Betty’s variety of intense partner advocacy, if the mess was much smaller to start with. It incenses me that transsexuals cry victimization to excuse often inexcusable acts. Catrina’s open-mindedness to the MS executive is admirable; I wish I could be so forgiving. Which brings me to the rest of her long and glowing post about Helen and Betty:

    Catrina, that was lovingly written and I agree with what you had to say, in essence. I don’t see Helen’s books as vile things nor do I characterize the relationship they have (what little I know of it) as something poisoned or poisonous. “Doomed to failure” was an ill-considered exaggeration. I see that they are both, at heart, good and honorable people who are loving and devoted to each other, willing to make sacrifices for each other and together. Some of the passages are indeed beautiful and heartwarming and there is much truth therein. Helen is a very accomplished writer.

    And your father’s reaction? I understood the context and was only commenting sarcastically from our society’s evolutionary vantage point. My heart still goes out to the young you.

    Betty, what is a message board but a sort of virtual community?

    As for my geographic slur, please don’t be so arrogant as to adopt a whole borough, but rather be grateful that it was willing to adopt you. It’s okay. I understand that you always in your heart felt that you were a Brooklynite and by some cruel twist of fate were born and raised in another part of the state. *smile* I haven’t any holier-than-thee attitude, it’s just that none the native New Yorkers I grew up with are as rude or inconsiderate as many (not all) of the people who arrive from elsewhere, tainted with preconception. But that’s a philippic for a different day in a different place.

    Let’s see, what else? Oh, Jennifer Boylan. To paraphrase you, who the fuck am I that she should care what I have to say? I made a comment here, in context, to illustrate a point. Despite the past few days’ events on this site, I’m not a provocateur. I don’t have a desire to go up to people and insult them, and certainly wouldn’t go someplace else to _repeat_ something I said, just to make sure I pissed off someone. If you think it would be of any value for Ms. Boylan to read, or that she would have any interest in, what I wrote, feel free to copy it and post it in the forums.

    Savoy Truffle, your comments are inane and mean-spirited and have contributed nothing to this discussion. However, I won’t conclude that you’re an asshole based on them.

    In terms of integration and being old-fashioned or conservative, that’s _my_ philosophy and again I don’t project it on anyone else. To retread a tired metaphor (groan, I know), on life’s highway, all I’ve done is change lanes; I don’t want the road widened on my account. I know Kate Bornstein, among others, has driven this road before me and come to a different conclusion. So fine, build the lane, but I don’t have to drive in it.

    I could go on, but I suspect it would only engender more controversy. I hope you all feel I’ve made amends or otherwise atoned in some small measure.

  29. Hey, thanks sparky. You keep up the good work.

    Getting upset about someone ignoring Those Studies, then admitting that you don’t actually know Those Studies is, well, a little inane. Saying you wouldn’t project your experiences on someone else and then making a blanket statement about when someone becomes aware of their trans-ness is double-ass inane; the truth is not everyone comes to the same conclusion at the same time, and not everyone knows from the earliest age. Hey, I even know some. The issue of disclosure is perhaps murkier than you suggest. I know this will take a little empathy and work, but I have faith in you, sparky. You’ll get there.

    And finally, for someone who doesn’t want to be part of The Trans Community, I find it triply-ass inane AND ironic that you would make the blanket statement that most transsexuals are intelligent, self-reflective and essentially good people. I had no idea we had the corner on sainthood.

    Well, not me. I’m mean-spirited. Must have been my life-long desire to co-opt a small apartment in Manhattan that did it to me.

  30. *sigh* You won’t let me go. Look, all I wanted to do was voice an important and critical point, which has been too easily subsumed or ignored altogether. What did it do? It precipitated a rapid and violent storm of defensiveness, attacks, name-calling, and other insults. Are we protesting too much?

    Savoy Truffle. More inanity. Willfully ignoring all instances of gradation, refinement and consideration in what I’ve written in order to serve your grandiose insults. Further, just because I’m not part of the “trans-community” doesn’t mean I haven’t spent time among others, that I haven’t read what’s been written by and about them. And what in god’s name does it have to do with sainthood?

  31. cool your jets there, sparky.

    I’ll cop to grandiose insults; I don’t have patience for someone who willfully ignores all instances of gradation, refinement and consideration for what Helen, Betty and Catrina have written. But “violent”? Save the hyperbole for when you need it.

  32. Your point was made at the expense of calling Betty out, which might not be the cleverest thing to do if you want your point heard in a place where the person you’re calling out is well-loved.

    I actually do appreciate your point & make a similar one in SNTMIM, I think: that perhaps earlier recognition of transness would not ruin so many lives. Including the trans person’s. I’m tired, personally, of the heartbreak & break-ups and rejections and anger I hear from trans people & their (pre transition) partners.

    When alcoholics go to dry up, they often ask them what the secret is… the secret that has been causing them to drink themselves away. & Often the alcoholic knows fullwell what it is, but until that moment – when they’ve hit the bottom, when the DTs have wrecked them – they can’t say it outloud. Honestly I think there’s a generation of trans women who only “realize” their transness in a similar way. So do they know they’re transsexual? Sure. Do they know in a way that makes them self-aware? No. Can I assign blame to that kind of lack of self-awareness? No. Do I wish it were otherwise? Hell yes.

    If Betty had come to me, as Jason, & asked if I would marry “him” and then see him through transition, but that she’d make me laugh and love me & support me in my writing while I did so, I can’t imagine having said no. So either way, we’re good. & While I’m fully aware that we’ve put ourselves out there for comments & criticism, I’m also aware that our relationship sometimes acts as a kind of lightning rod for other people’s unhappy experiences. But I’d like to hope, too, that there is some empathy… not just for me, but for Betty as well, who has taken all of the support she’s gotten from me to be out there in a way that most trans people would not manage. It takes a huge amount of trust to let someone else write you… and I’m honored she trusts me that much.

  33. Helen, don’t you think this was the perfect place to get my point across?

    It still isn’t fair to hijack another person’s life, whether or not they end up accepting you. I’m not sure what to make of your final statements there. I mean, Betty _is_ in the acting biz and actors _love_ attention, or so I’m told.

    What you say in the other parts of the paragraph are true, as they are for Jennifer Boylan, Donna Rose, Jameson Green, and all the other public figures: you do open yourselves to criticism and act as lightning rods. Incidentally, I hope you don’t think my comments here have been some sore of manifestation of such “unhappy experiences.” I just believe that truth and honesty are paramount.

    It isn’t recognition of “transness” (the lexicon for this phenomenon is brutal, awkward, and ridiculous, isn’t it?), it’s disclosure. Despite all of the people you’ve interviewed and interacted with, you can’t _know_ what it’s like to be transgendered, just as I or any transgendered person can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up “normal” and not give a second thought to one’s own gender every waking moment. You can’t know if they’re telling you the whole truth.

    Let’s look at it logically. Just suppose I’m dead-on correct about early self-knowledge being universal among transsexuals. If the transgendered person admits the entirety and enormity of the deception after a falsely-embarked-on relationship has come to a head and things have blown up, there’s a very strong chance all of the the sympathy, support, in fact raison d’être for the relationship, evaporates. What could be worse or more devastating? Ergo, it’s like a tacit conspiracy, never to mentioned, not even among peers and confidants.

    Okay, now let’s say I’m wrong. Someone realizes they’re “not quite right” at an early age but doesn’t know why. Spends countless hours, years, obsessed with this thing that’s screwing up their lives, their interactions with everyone they know. Sure, it can be hidden or disguised, more or less effectively, for quite some time. Simultaneously, they try to stuff it down, suppress it, ignore it, but still it remains. The next few things can happen in any order. They question, are they gay? Odds are, they’ll experiment and figure out that that’s not the case, or at least not _all_ of it. At some point they’ll have occasion to make the acquaintance of clothes of the “opposite” gender, have an opportunity or excuse to dress up for a party or even in the privacy of their own home when no one else is around. Are they a transvestite >ick

  34. (sorry, it seems my lesser-than symbol was a formatting code. here’s the continuation:)

    *ick* I mean a crossdresser? Nooooo, not quite right, either. Hmm, what could it be? We’re talking hours and hours, years and years, obsession and occasional (or constant, your results may vary) monomania, permutation after permutation, variations upon variations, concatenations up the you-know-what, perhaps all through puberty and young adulthood, AND THEY STILL DON’T KNOW? I have a lot of trouble buying that.

    The analogy to alcoholism doesn’t hold liquid for me. Alcoholics have the gene for alcoholism and don’t necessarily need an underlying catalyst. It’s obvious to everyone when someone has a severe drinking problem. No one comes up to a soul-searching transsexual and diagnoses them, tells them to go to a gender rehab clinic. And, once again, gender is at the very core of your identity, extremely profound and unchangeable.

    The “peeling the layers of the onion” metaphor is indeed poetic and makes for great writing, but unfortunately it just makes me think of transparency and tears.

  35. Transparency and tears, not in the shared, positive, and heartwarming way. Just wanted to make sure that was clear, because the way I left it ambiguous was niggling me all day.

    Other than that, I’m happy to observe that it seems we’ve all agreed to let this string of comments end.

  36. All I can say is that at 52 years I realised that I was TS. Before that I didn’t have a clue. Looking back I can’t understand why I didn’t realise but I didn’t.
    Not everyone has the “I’m a girl” thing prior to puberty. The signs are there in other ways but when it was happening to me Transexuals didn’t exist, so how can you identify as one?
    On the anger side I found the post illuminating. Thank you.

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