7th Preview of She’s Not the Man I Married

Excerpt from the last chapter, Chapter 7 – Love Is a Many Gendered Thing:

Too often, I’ve tried to predict the future. I’ve tried to understand “transsexualism” as if it were a monolithic thing, but it’s very subjective, and it’s described by good writers who happen to be transsexual in very different ways. Jenny Boylan calls it “a knife wound”; Dallas Denny describes it as a pebble in her shoe.[19] Another friend once remarked glibly that for her it was just like wearing the wrong shoes, so she got new ones. So which is it? I can’t figure out how all of these can be true, or which is most accurate in describing Betty’s feelings about her own transness. Clearly, different people experience transness differently and the same person may experience it in different ways at different times in his or her life. The standard notion of a “man trapped in a woman’s body/woman trapped in a man’s body” strikes me as the most simplistic explanation ever. That shorthand might be useful for people who need to know only a little, just in case their good manners fail them and they decide to treat a trans person they work with like a nonentity. People who don’t have a personal relationship with someone trans don’t need to know much more than “you knew her as Laura, and now you can call him Larry” and move on. But people have all sorts of moral indignations and crazy beliefs that what they think about something gives them the right to treat other people like crap. But in a world where it seems more important to self-righteous types that foster children go without homes than to let gay people rear them, I really shouldn’t be that surprised.

Still, people do think they need to know what causes transsexualism—what it is, whether there’s a genetic determination or a hormonal one, whether trans people are just messed up. I’ve always been partial to Dr. Harry Benjamin’s[20] take on it; he didn’t know the cause, but he figured out that the brain and the body didn’t always match, even if he didn’t know why. Looking a little into the way trans people had already been treated by previous psychiatrists, he realized that the only way to ease their suffering was to change their bodies, since decades of trying to change their brains hadn’t worked. That was all. There is something practical-minded and humanitarian in his thinking that people could learn a lot from, and not just medical professionals who deal with trans people.

Leslie Feinberg on She’s Not The Man I Married

As if what people have said wasn’t enough to make me delirious already, Leslie Feinberg read She’s Not the Man I Married, and said:

“Between the covers of this book, you’ll hear how love sounds when it’s so honest it bleeds. Trans liberation is more certain to “win” because Helen Boyd’s on the team.” — Leslie Feinberg

Thank you, Leslie. I hope zie’s right.

Confirmed Events

I will have the extreme pleasure and honor of introducing Leslie Feinberg at the State Museum of New York in Albany, this coming February 3rd.

Betty and I will also be attending IFGE 2007, in Philly, where I’ll be presenting both my Trans Sex & Identity workshop (on Friday) and doing an additional workshop on She’s Not the Man I Married (on Saturday).

& That is in addition to my being the keynote speaker for First Event this year and doing an erotic memoir reading for Rachel Kramer Bussel here in NYC.
More to come, no doubt!


I handed in the final proof pages of She’s Not the Man I Married today.

There’s always this moment, after I finish a project, where I just want to sleep – and often do, quite a lot. I’m not sure if its like post-natal depression, or just a kind of mental exhaustion, or even anxiety – after all, what comes next are reviews – but it happens.

Either way, it won’t be very long now until I have the actual book in my hands, though that doesn’t make the pub date come any quicker for anyone else. (Sorry.)

6th Preview of She’s Not the Man I Married

Excerpt from Chapter 6 – Genitals Are the Least of It

So while I knew that Betty was a little sexually unusual and not your typical guy, I didn’t have any idea early on that his crossdressing meant anything but that he would prefer to be a little prettier than most men when we made love. But that wasn’t the whole story, and after subsequent conversations and discoveries about his transness, we both started to realize that the male sexual role was not his favorite. While some might say that his crossdressing should have been a huge road sign, plenty of crossdressers are very happy with a traditional gender role in the bedroom: They want to be on top, just in panties. Through time, I realized that not only did Betty’s eyes light up when I took the lead in some way—in any way, really—but I was having way better sex, too. It was terrifying. All along I’d thought I was terrifically liberated about this stuff; other boyfriends had preferred nonmissionary positions—who doesn’t?—but I’d never been in a situation before where I had to acknowledge that taking the lead felt good for both me and my partner. That is, I had to own it. If I “ended up” on top, in the dark, in those moments of sexuality when no one talks about what just happened, or is about to happen, it seemed okay. But if I were to say out loud, “Hey, I like this,” all hell would break loose emotionally.

When you cross a taboo in a secret, private way, and you don’t have to talk about what you like, it can just make sex a little sexier.

But when you do have to talk about sex—say, if things aren’t going quite right between you and a partner—then it can be terrifying to admit what feels good. Like just about everyone else, I had messages in my head that being aggressive sexually as a woman made me a slut, or a pervert, or another socially awful thing I wasn’t supposed to be. But for Betty and me, the choice was between acknowledging these feelings and desires and their taboos, or arguing about sex indefinitely and eventually breaking up over it. The latter wasn’t an option.

What was happening in a very private, intimate space between me and Betty involved whole hordes of people: boyfriends who’d called me a nympho, my mother’s implied reminders to be a “Christian lady,” my years of being called or assumed to be lesbian. I was worried about all the labels I wasn’t fitting, and I was even more worried about which ones really could be applied. Betty brought her own horde as well: her guy friends who bedded any woman who was willing, ex-girlfriends who expected her to play the male role, and even one ex who left her for a woman. Then throw in all the cultural voices of religion, morality, and gender correctness. One of the most difficult tasks we had was asking all those people to leave our bedroom and kicking them out when they didn’t want to go.

More Good Words for She’s Not the Man I Married

“The (im)perfect modern love story, She’s Not the Man I Married tackles the big questions—the meanings of gender, why we love the people we love, how we love the people we love—honestly, articulately, and with tremendous eloquence. The brave and personal nature of Helen’s story offers deep insights into true love, romance, commitment, and how to handle it when the other woman is your husband.”—Josey Vogels, sex columnist and author of Bedside Manners: Sex Etiquette Made Easy

First Event Keynote: Me

Well, the news is out: I’m going to be the keynote speaker for TCNE’s First Event next year. The event will be from January 17th – 21st, and in addition to the keynote I will be doing a reading from the new book and (I think) doing a workshop for partners.

We have never otherwise been to First Event and are very much looking forward to it.

There’s a thread about this on our boards where you can check in with others who might be going, too – so do come!

Read the press release below the break.
Continue reading “First Event Keynote: Me”

Praise for She’s Not the Man I Married (#3)

“Written from the rare perspective of the spouse of a transgender person, Helen Boyd’s new book is a daring love letter for her partner, their relationship, and any couple who has dared to love outside of the traditional gender script. Part journal, part queer studies, part liberation manifesto, Boyd fearlessly surrenders her own comfort zone to illustrate how there is a cost for everyone — trans or non-trans — to function in our world constructed by engendered expectations.”

—Abigail Garner, author of Families Like Mine

5th Preview of She's Not the Man I Married

This preview of She’s Not the Man I Married comes from Chapter 5: Wearing the Pants. I read from this chapter the other day at Columbia, but not this section.

Women in relationships with trans people often already feel forced to accept change they’re not excited about, and so they dig in their heels. But one of the things I ask partners to do when I’m giving workshops or lending an ear privately is to define what “feeling like the woman” in the relationship means to them and what it would take for them to feel that way. “Feeling like the woman” is not about the natural order of things but about how you feel about the person you love, and how the person you love makes you feel about you. When we partners say such things, we usually mean some specific things: Some women mean they want to be seduced; others really like the little mash notes or presents their husbands have left for them; still others want the sense of security that having a provider-husband gives them. For me, it was Betty’s love and attention, her pride in our relationship, that always made me feel “like the woman.” It was the little things he did that made me feel prized; he always kissed me before he went to the restroom, even if I were engaged in a conversation and might not have noticed he’d gone and come back. Identifying those things that make you feel the way you want to in a relationship helps you preserve what makes you feel valued and special. For us, it provided the chance to work things out despite these seismic shifts in our lives.