Wednesday, 30 November 2005

For Carmel

I wanted to keep this one for our 25th Wedding Anniversary, but some things are too important to delay.

I also wanted to tell the world what an incredible person my partner, Carmel, is, and the truly hideous choice she's faced with. And how she's helped me already so much, out of a love that goes beyond all bounds and marriage vows.

I want to let others know just what it's like, what the situation is for her, without melodrama or exaggeration, the bald facts. The Truth. And why I say we're taking things "one day at a time" and seeing how it all pans out.

From Dialogue with Jennifer : Letters Vol 32 :
The usual response of most partners, wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends, and so on of the transsexual (of whatever direction of change) is...shock, followed by anger, followed by rejection. Basically, a transsexual can expect, as a rule, to lose everyone in their lives completely; all family, all friends, everyone. This is utterly common.

What is uncommon, very uncommon, is any situation where any friend, lover, family member, or spouse stays with the transsexual all the way through transition and out the other side. It does happen...but very, very, very rarely.

Among the most common of feelings that the spouses and lovers of newly awakened transsexuals report to me is a feeling of betrayal. They tend to feel betrayed, as though they have been tricked, or as though their transsexual partner has been lying to them, or has somehow been playing a game with them. This is not what is going on, but one can definitely understand how they would feel this a great extent their very sense of the reality of their partner has been shattered.

The situation is that the transsexual has almost certainly spent a lifetime trying to deny, repress, ignore, and willfully make 'not true' the fundamental reality of their defect, which is being born with a brain of one sex, and a body the quite the opposite. Transsexuality is such a subtle form of intersexuality that it is confusing and difficult even for the transsexual involved. And of course, there is such bigotry and shame associated with the condition that admitting it in any form is a horrific task for most transsexuals. It is no wonder that so many transsexuals simply suicide rather than face their condition. The transsexual, coming out to a spouse, is coming out as much to themselves as to anyone, because if they have lied, they have lied to themselves as well, merely to cope day to day. It is such a terribly painful condition, or can be for many transsexuals, that combined with the social loathing of it...the need to wish it away is...overwhelming.

Unfortunately, the condition is very real, and eventually, whether at a young age, or in middle age (for the few that make it that far), there comes a time where it absolutely cannot be denied any longer. It's like a dam bursting. Thus the sudden coming out, the rapidity and the almost maniacal need to deal with it all at once, and the feelings in spouses and friends that everything has changed instantly, which can thus feel like a kind of betrayal, at least of expectations.

Another issue many lovers and spouses have with having a transsexual partner is that they may wonder what is going on with themselves. They soon realize that the transsexual partner's identity does not change because of transition, and that only their physical sex and some aspects of behavior change. It becomes clear that the inner moiety, the inner gender of the transsexual was ...contrary... even before the condition was revealed. This makes some lovers and spouses question their own sexuality...because, in effect, they were attracted to a personality of their own gender, hidden within a body of the opposite sex. They wonder if that makes them queer. They wonder if this means that they somehow, deep down, are homosexual. Some folks get really bothered about this. Obviously, if one is bisexual, this would not be an issue, so such a problem is only common to heterosexual partners of newly-awakened transsexuals.

My usual answer to this is that women often have problems with men and vice versa, because there are some basic incompatibilities in the things men and women want from life, and from each other, and this is well known. The transsexual presents, before coming out, as an apparent member of the opposite sex that [is]....remarkably compatible. Getting along is surprisingly easy in comparison to other relationships because, in effect, an impossible ideal has seemingly become real; the straight guy who thinks in a way a woman can agree with, or a straight woman who thinks in a way a man can agree with. In actuality, of course, the transsexual is a woman or man who simply wears the body of the opposite sex. So, basically, if you are a woman with a MTF (Male-To-Female) transsexual as a partner, what you really had all along was a lesbian lover who looked...extraordinarily butch. But, one would not know that, and seems like a magical ideal...the perfect man, or at least the better than usual man. One that thinks and values things that a woman can agree on much of the time. As a generalization.

Thus, the spouse is (usually) not queer herself (or himself, in the FTM case), just in love with a person, a person who they get along with, and have no reason to see as anything other than what they appear. Of course, the transsexual themselves has been trying not to see themselves accurately either...because it is just too awful to admit to themselves. It's kind of a trap for both people, for everyone involved. It's just complicated and unhappy for everyone.

Then comes the issue of...what if the spouse sticks with their transsexual lover all the way through...then what?

Well, that is very simple. Either the couple stay together as just friends, they adapt their sexuality to allow what will become a gay relationship, or they split up.

So....let's say you stay with your transsexual lover....on the other side, she will be a girl. Period. And that means that either you two end up in a lesbian relationship, or you stay together as best friends without any sexual relationship, split up. That is what happens. It's either best friends sharing a life and dating others, you become homosexual partners, or it ends.

So, what I think is that what you need to do is to really consider what your own needs are here. Are you bi? Straight? If you are capable of being bisexual, the problem is small...instead of a boyfriend and husband, say, you end up with a girlfriend and wife, and if you really love each other, it's happily ever after. On the other hand, if you are straight as an arrow, then...there is no point in kidding's not going to work, unless sex is not of major importance to you, or unless you can work out some form of open relationship where you can get what you need on the side. This is the reality of the situation.

Thus....what you have here is a person, who you thought was male, but who never was. They were born female, but their body surely did not look female. If they are truly transsexual, they will fight to the death to get their body fixed, and one day, several years from now, they will end up...just female. If your partner really is transsexual, then you don't have a boyfriend, you have a girlfriend. You always did, but both of you just couldn't see that, for various reasons. You, because your girlfriend looked convincingly male, and your transsexual partner...because it is unbelievably terrible to face being a freak of nature, a birth defected creature that society does not merely make fun of...but often openly loathes.

What you need to do is to assess your situation in terms of what you need, what you can live with, what you can live without, and what your own sexuality is.

You will need to weigh sex, and roles within relationships. You will need to consider whether or not you can be happy as a lesbian in a committed relationship with another woman, which is what things will be in about two to four years. And I might add, those two to four years will not be is a difficult road to repair Nature's Nastiest Little Joke. On the other hand....helping someone you love save their very lives counts pretty big in the Big Book of Relationships.

Ultimately, you need to figure out what you need. Sex? Love? Friendship? The specific soul that is this particular person, out of all the people in the world, that you have written to me about? Regardless of shape or form or sex? Or.....not?

You are in a relationship with a real life shapeshifter. They will shapeshift, and the result will be unbelievably profound. They won't turn into a wolf, but their transformation will be no less magical and incredible. More than this, it will be very real. As real as life and death.

You have your life. You need to know what you want out of it. Once you know that...then your choices are straightforward.

How do you thank someone for saving your life? For being the mother of your child? How do you thank someone for being so very, very uncommon? If it was in my power, I'd shower her with accolades, for love "above and beyond the call of duty". And no matter what the future, we will have had 25 years married together, and will always be the very best of friends. More than that is too much to ask for, and probably too much to hope for too. I never thought there was anything that could threaten our marriage, our partnership, but neither of us counted on this. So one day at a time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"... so such a problem is only common to heterosexual partners of newly-awakened transsexuals."

I have seen this occur just as often with homosexual partners. So perhaps "monosexual partners" phrase would be better?

MZ from London