Saturday, December 13, 2008

Same person, different package - there is no death

People change. Children grow from infants - to preschoolers - to teens - and to adults. Parents age and often become dependent, and the person who transitions changes outward appearance as well as assuming more outward traits of their new gender. All of those things are real, and they are natural. Many people say the person transitioning has killed their daddy, or their mother, sibling or their spouse. THAT IS NOT SO! Did I say that loud enough? If every child, spouse or sibling that screamed "you've killed my Daddy/Mommy/Spouse/Brother/Sister" at the transitioning person had their heads screwed on right, they would realize that it is THEY that have "killed" their loved one.

Okay, think about it. When your kids grew up, did you stop loving them? They certainly aren't in the same package they arrived in, not by a long shot. As they grew, their personalities changed; did you stop loving them then? When they became adults, they changed more, as they took on adult responsibilities. Did you stop loving them then? No, because they were still the same person in a different package.
Has your spouse changed from that romantic person you dated? Do they still dress up every day, or is it blue jeans and a shirt?What? There are no more high heels, no vests and ties? Do you two still hang on every word the other speaks? Do little presents happen every week? Do you still go out on dates regularly? Adults change too - same person, differnt package.
So, why do some think that it isn't okay for the transitioning person to change - even dramatically - even into another gender?
It's their choice if they kill off the transitioning person.
Oh yes, there are certainly adjustments to be made, especially for a spouse, but look at it this way. Let's suppose the transitioning person had had a stroke or was in an accident. What if they were suddenly debilitated in some way. Would all of the friends and family think of the person as having died? NO! Would they think the person dead to them because of this dramatic change? NO! In fact, friends and family would EXPECT the spouse to stay and take care of the newly debilitated spouse; children would adjust to Daddy or Mommy: Siblings would adjust to this changed Brother or Sister that's now in a wheelchair, or blind, or whatever else might've been the result of the stroke or accident. But, when a person changes gender, some families fall apart.

Here's my take: they never loved the PERSON. They only loved the "being a couple," having the money, having the just-like-everyone-else person.

Angela and I have been blessed, we are still together (42+ years), our families accept us (except for one sister out of 6 siblings), and most of those who were our true friends are still with us (yes, we lost a few in the transition - their loss, in my opinion).

Angela is the same person; she's just wrapped up in a different package. She's so much happier, and that makes happy. She's so much more outgoing(less inhibited), and that's a plus for me. She's certainly freer with herself to me, our daughter, our family and our friends. I love it. I think I'm the one that is blessed.

One bit of advice to the transitioning person: go slow and follow the Harry Benjamin Standards. You won't regret it.


Judith B said...

I'm Jude, I just found your blog. I'm about halfway transitioned (full time next summer is the plan). My wife Susan is wonderful, and we plan to stay together. She like you has a wonderful attitude towards me and gender transitioning. I'll point her this way. thank you for being here. spouses often don't get any support while all the therapists and counselors and support groups are focused on the trans person. I'm at

Renee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee said...

I just discovered this blog as well. You'll have to excuse me for what is about to sound a bit ranty...

First off, I'm a transwoman who was married, and while my wife and I came through my transition as best of friends, by no means are we romantically invested in each other anymore. So I come at this from a place of experience.

Some wives, you being one example, can make the adjustment. Others - even most, I would say - can not, nor should they be expected to.

A woman's sexual orientation is just as hardwired as her husband's gender identity is. That, if for no other reason, is enough to call a marriage off. If a wife is not comfortable in the role of a lesbian - which is as much a social role as it is one fulfilled in the bedroom - then there is simply no foundation for a marriage to work. It's an unreasonable train of thought, and anyone who has struggled for even one day with gender identity can appreciate the pain and difficulty of living in a way not in accordance with how you feel.

Regarding the issue of "death", it's true that the person isn't really dead. For all intents and purposes, though, the husband/father/brother/son has died. The person in front of you now seems different, and is different in the way they look and act. That may be because they are finally free to dispense with the facade they've maintained all these years, finally able to let the real them shine through. But for the wife, that facade was her reality. That's what she knew. That's what she fell in love with. Getting rid of that means getting rid of the person she loved. Perhaps this new person is someone she can love too (although not if she's not at least bisexual, I would venture), but by no means is that assured. She has to start over from the beginning and get to know this person all over again.

In some rare cases, I suppose, it might be possible that there is no facade apart from an outwardly male exterior, and a wife might then truthfully say that the person she fell in love with is the same person she is with now, just in a "different package". I suspect that's rare in the extreme.

The argument that GID is no different than injuries sustained in a car crash or suffered from a stroke is just a bad analogy. My immediate family and I cared for both of my elderly grandmothers in the last years of their life; both of whom had strokes. We did very much love them, and we did so out of love *and* necessity. But it was hard, and it was painful. And on one occasion, my saintly mother was pushed to the edge of a nervous breakdown. As a trans-person, I wouldn't want someone I love to have to make that sacrifice. And because I'm not an invalid, there is no need.

Bottom line: When things got tense between my wife and I, I was fortunate enough to see all of these things for what they were. She is not a lesbian or a bi-sexual. The person she thought she knew turned out to be a work of fiction. And she had hopes and dreams that she grew up with that would all have to be put aside if she were to stay with me. It was hard, but I had to let her go.

Which is what we women do...the hard things.

Lori D said...

These are just the perspectives, yours as well as Renee's, while vastly different, are both critical to understanding the role and place of our spouses in a relationship with a trans person. I've walked the long hard road over the last several years with my own wife struggling over this, and I've come to the single conclusion that it should never be expected by either party that one should change for the other. However, choices made to stay together or leave are almost always seen as "good" or "bad," when in reality neither is the enemy, but both can remain friends.

I look forward to continuing the discourse of those living with a transgender spouse.

There is much to be learned, and I think it's a fine time for the spouses of trans people to finally have their voices be heard.

Gini MacRae said...

You are a saint! You are showing the REAL meaning of LOVE! Wishing you a wonderful 2009!