Tuesday 23 August 2011

Marriage, Change, and Eternal Commitment

From the New York Times: Modern Love - My Husband Is Now My Wife
I’d wept without warning after dinner because I would not see his face again, his perfectly average face with a sizable nose and weak chin, the face I’d held and kissed and been happy to greet for eight years.

“Do you still have your wedding ring on?” I asked. “They said to take it off.”
It wasn’t until we were married that my husband, finally feeling loved, admitted to himself that he was transsexual. That he was, inside, a woman. That he did not want to be the man I married.

Stunned and wounded, I located a therapist, read transgender books, found support online and confided in the lone friend I entrusted with my secret. My husband and I continued to talk, to love.

Over time I came to believe that my husband, as my wife, would be in most ways the same person: intelligent, compassionate, mature, with the same slim build. I’d had a relationship with a woman in my early 20s, so living as a lesbian was agreeable enough, though I mourned the societal ease we would lose.
WHEN we reached the house, I asked if she minded staying in the car while I tended to the pets, knowing our entrance would be chaotic otherwise. She nodded yes.

The house was warm, but I turned the heat up to make it toasty. I imagined my life if the person in the car didn’t exist. Easier, but empty.

I returned and roused my dozing partner, spouse, wife. We shuffled inside and into our bedroom, which I’d stocked with her medications, ice bags and gauze. I maneuvered her under the covers and fluffed her pillows. I took her wedding band from the beaded box and slipped it over her finger.
We’d been in bed almost 12 hours when a gray light filled the room. Still under our covers, we were warm and safe. Soon enough, we would face the world. I pulled my right arm from the sleeping bag and took my partner’s hand. We stayed like that, side by side, until the sun rose on our first day in this foreign land.
I teared up a bit when I read that.

I didn't require skull reconstruction - for that is what aggressive Facial Feminisation Surgery is. My Face may not be my fortune, but it's mine, and never was terribly masculine anyway. Similarly, I've had no breast augmentation, no prosthesis, even though with my barrel chest my breasts get a bit lost in the shuffle.

Genital reconstruction though was needed due to the mess that was left after the change hit. It was important to me psychologically too.

I was never much of a husband, and never thought of myself as one of those - and I don't think of myself as a wife - but I was, and am a partner.

I wish this couple well, and I hope both can settle down into a common or garden lesbian relationship. My partner and I are both straight, so that wasn't our fate, but our love remains eternal. We no longer have intimacy, but we do have physical affection. Our marriage hasn't changed at all there, we love each other just as much as we did over 30 years ago.


Anonymous said...

The USLegal™ web site defines "depraved indifference" as conduct that is:

"... so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime." 12

I think that a case can be made that depraved indifference is being exhibited by these two solitudes: conservative religious spokespersons, and professionals active in treating transsexuals.


Zimbel said...

@Anonymous - If you use the name/URL choice, you can put a name without logging in.

As mentioned at that web site, there's quite the wealth of evidence that medical treatment for transitioning works:

Multiple surveys by secular sources show that there is a near consensus among the vast majority of transsexuals who have gone through sexual reassignment surgery that hormone treatments and surgical procedures have had a positive effect on their life.

The religious conservative position, however, appears to have no evidence on its side No citation was given by the Catholic News Service (CNS) to support this conclusion., compared to strong evidence even with what appears to be a very odd choice of data (for example, using a then 41-year-old study when the techniques in question have changed significantly in that time period).

So let's consider the practitioner's position:

The AMA:


Whereas, An established body of medical research demonstrates the effectiveness and
25 medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy and sex reassignment
26 surgery as forms of therapeutic treatment for many people diagnosed with GID; 7 and
28 Whereas, Health experts in GID, including WPATH, have rejected the myth that such
29 treatments are “cosmetic” or “experimental” and have recognized that these treatments
30 can provide safe and effective treatment for a serious health condition;7 and

Those 7s refer to a number of studies done over roughly a 23-year period (see the original document - blogger will choke if I try to paste all the references here). All the studies I've read on the matter suggest a much reduced suicide rate on completed treatment.

Zimbel said...

I'd re-read your source. Even just taking that one source into account, there is substantial evidence that transitioning helps the vast majority of transsexuals, and no evidence in favor of the conservative religious point of view.

If you were to spend a few minutes looking at, say, the studies cited by Resolution: 122 of the AMA on the subject, you'd note that the evidence that modern transition treatments are effective for transsexuals is large and broad.

If there were "depraved indifference" it appears to be all on one side. I prefer to think of it as lack of education; many religious conservatives appear to think of MtF transsexuals as some variant of being gay, and are unaware of any other category.

I'm sorry for the lack of links, but my earlier post on the subject appears to have been auto-deleted.

Anonymous said...

I found this one of the most wonderful love stories I have ever read. There is nothing "depraved" in their life. Any characterization to the contrary reflects ones personal religious beliefs and not anything medical. Hence I would characterized your comments as being out of your area of expertise.

I find the name of your organization, "religious tolerance, a bit of an misnomer.

I'm one of those strange intersex people, please do not profess to be an expert on that subject. You need to walk a mile in my shoes first.

Anonymous said...

Religious Tolerance was quoted out of context by Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I agree, quoting you was indeed out of context but I was mostly pointing out the sign hanging from your front door. Do you deny ownership of said organization and claim to be in the medical profession? In that case I extend my heart felt apologies for my transgressions. If indeed you are a religious commentator you then fall into the category of crossing the line into the world of medical reality and are the transgressor in the transgender community.
If you are representative of a religious community I would welcome your input as a member of such an organization. Confine your expertise to that area and stay out of areas for which you have no credence.

You have really no idea of the suffering people go through do you? How would you like to be born with both an testis and ovary. Or have your body cut open to remove teratomas that look just like babies. Or have a brain and soul that is nonconforming to pulpit pounders. God made me this way and I have never considered myself a mistake by Her.
But in the end these issues are yours and not mine. I think the key word would be tolerance.

Zimbel said...

As a minor note to Anonymous, Anonymous, Anonymous, and Anonymous: If you choose the Name/URL option, you can put a name in without logging in.

It makes conversations a bit less confusing.

As for www.ReligiousTolerance.org, I think it's mostly written (including the linked article) by Bruce A. Robinson, and is a Canadian organization. I doubt it has much to do with this blog.

Zimbel said...

@Anonymous (all)-
You can enter in a name through choosing the Name/URL option. You don't have to log in.

As for Religious Tolerance, it's mostly written by Robinson, a Canadian. I don't think he has much to do with this blog.

(sigh) a bike ad (currently above) gets through the filter but half my comments haven't. I really should bother to get an account some day...

Anonymous said...

The owner of Religious Tolerance has not posted in this thread. The owner will write about how religions deal with various topics, including homosexuality, intersexuality, and transsexuality. The owner will also do his homework regarding the topic and give an explanation that matches the latest mainstream research on the subject.

As for what Anonymous posted, if you go here, you can find a more detailed explanation of what the author is talking about, which is about how the _clinicians_ need to dialogue with conservatives to save lives:


Look under "Webmaster's note". This is largely Americocentric, as he's clearly talking about countries where conservatives have a lot of influence.

Zimbel said...

@Anonymous (all)-
If you use Name/URL, you can leave a name/handle without logging in.

@Anonymous (Thursday, August 25, 2011 11:50:00 PM)-
Are you suggesting that Zoe Brain is B.A. Robinson? Or are you suggesting that one of the other commenters here is B.A. Robinson?

Anonymous said...

I know who Zoe Brain is and I respect her position on most everything I have read. I do not know who B.A. Robinson is, should I ?

The only reason I replied in the first place is that I was absorbed in this love story. I live in a similar situation with my wife of thirty eight years. She is the one and only person I have ever loved and cared about. With every sentence of this story I could feel the pain and suffering, yet the love that was expressed touched me to my soul. Yes I believe in souls, love, sharing and all those things that are expressed in the bible.

Maybe I took this anonymous comment in the wrong context and if so I apologize. If so I hope you forgive me.
In my youth I absorbed much in the way of human isolation because my penis was small or my body didn't fit the standard profile of male or female, I was a amorphous stem cell. As I grew I came to care about me as a person and then fell in love with someone did the same. After 18 surgeries and countless weeks, months of pain I still do not curse my body or my life. We have been very successful in our work and life as a whole and all I wish is that everyone have even a fraction of the good life I have had.

Zimbel said...

I think I'm just confused with the multiple Anonymouses. B.A. Robinson is the author of the text Anonymous@Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:22:00 AM quoted in part, and the main person behind religioustolerance.

In the event that you min-interpreted my Thursday, August 25, 2011 6:55:00 AM comment (under Zimbel - but not signed in - I had forgotten that I'd created this account years ago), I was noting that the conservative religious position referred to in the religioustolerance article had no support for their position in that article.

I then proceeded with my understanding that this is, at least in part, because they (in general) appear to have essentially no knowledge on this subject.

Specifically, some conservative religious writers who I've read that actually know the subject well don't share the position noted in that article.

I apologize if you took or take either of these as a personal attack. If you have contrary evidence, I'd love to hear it.

I'm glad that you're doing well.

cornince said...


If you think Religious Tolerance may be in error regarding the beliefs of religious conservatives, then please contact the author here:


Follow the instructions for ERROR.

Please provide the evidence about why you think it is wrong.

The webmaster should be accommodating and honest, as the webmaster documents his own errors:


cornince said...


Also, make sure to specify the file the error is in and describe it.

Zimbel said...

I might suggest corrections for a few of their articles, then, but it isn't a high priority to me. In this particular article, I think the main problem is false equivalence at the end; it's trying to equate essentially no evidence with a very strong body of evidence (much of which the article ignores). I couldn't expect such an article to identify the position of every religious conservative.

An example of a religious conservative who isn't anti-transition:


I guess the main argument against this article would be if one didn't consider that church (or person) religious conservative. Honestly, I don't know enough about that particular sect of Baptism, church, or person to comment, other than the author identified their church as "conservative to moderate".