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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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349 Responses

  1. Kayay
    Kayay November 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    Wonderful advice to commemorate the 14th Transgender Day of Remembrance, Prudie.

    I especially like the way Prudie mis-genders her spouse at every turn, assumes she knew all her life like the “standard narrative” tells us all.

    Sarcasm aside, my spouse has stuck with me through my transition but I can also understand when a cis woman who thought she married a man cannot go on being married when this happens.

    1. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue November 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

      Oh Jesus, somehow I didn’t even notice the misgendering. Yeah, this response is becoming less and less OK with me the more I think about it.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm |

      I especially like the way Prudie mis-genders her spouse at every turn

      Yeah, that leaped out and poked me in the eyeball too.

  2. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue November 20, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

    Mostly it’s fine, I think, but the biggest problem for me in this:

    This feeling he is a woman trapped in a man’s body is not a new discovery for him, and he withheld absolutely crucial information from you prior to your marriage.

    Because obviously this is not necessarily true, and indeed I think it probably is not true. Transgender people realize they’re transgender at different ages, and I think it’s very likely this woman’s wife entered the marriage not knowing she was a woman. And even if she did hide that info from the letter writer, I hope the letter writer understands the ways her wife was pressured to hide and deny that information.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable November 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

      That’s the line that stuck out at me too – I’d much rather she not present any trans person as a liar. It’s such a bullshit trope and makes me so angry.

    2. Treebeard
      Treebeard November 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

      I think Prudie assumes that because the letter specifically says “she has always felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body” which sounds like a quote from the spouse. But yes, there are of course pressures to hide that kind of feeling.

      1. Treebeard
        Treebeard November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |

        And maybe that wasn’t supposed to be a quote from the spouse, or wasn’t supposed to be a strong obvious lifelong feeling, I’m not sure.

        1. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 20, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

          The thing is that it can be difficult to move from “I feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body” to “I AM a woman.” Or at least it was for me. Before I realized I was a woman I was saying things to myself like “If I thought my family wouldn’t mind I would get SRS” and not ever think that that might make me transgender.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L November 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm |

          For years and years, I actively resisted admitting to myself that I was transsexual. Except when I was stoned, which was one of the reasons I never much liked doing that.

      2. Li
        Li November 21, 2012 at 1:05 am |

        Having long-term feelings of dysphoria and knowing that you’re trans* are two separate things. It’s difficult to parse out those two different pieces of information from the “trapped in a man’s body” phrasing, but the nature of cisnormativity is such that self-knowledge can be exceptionally difficult even when people have really strong feelings that something is going on. It’s completely possible that the letter writer’s spouse has had lifelong feelings of dysphoria while only recently being able to understand and accept those feelings through the lens of trans*ness.

        1. konkonsn
          konkonsn November 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

          The human mind is…amazing (best word?) in what it can do to keep you from freaking out. I mean, I constantly told myself, “You know, if it wasn’t bad to be gay, I would date women.” But I never thought I was gay because I could go without dating women and had surface attraction to some men.

          Not the exact same thing by a long shot, but, yeah…

        2. suspect class
          suspect class November 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

          Yes, my thoughts exactly. If you feel something pressing down on you your entire life, and no one else seems to feel it or notice it, you may have to go through a ton of steps before you figure out what it is and how to get it off you. I always, always felt wrong. Wrong in the worst way. But I attributed it to any other number of things before I realized I had to transition. Somewhere in there I figured out I was a man. But first I lived a not insignificant amount of my adolescence and adulthood as a queer woman.

      3. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca November 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

        I’m a trans woman. I’ve always had very strong feelings that I was female (or at least, more female than I was male), but that didn’t mean that I THOUGHT I was female. I THOUGHT I was a boy and then a man–a shameful, crazy, self-deluded man who just couldn’t accept that he was a man even though he obviously was (because if you have a penis and people tell you that you are a man, you must be a man, right?) So feelings can be interpreted any number of ways. I had the female feelings strongly, but I thought they were fucked up feelings that I should try to dismiss and not think about. And they certainly weren’t feelings I should discuss with other people. So I think Prudie should do more research on what it’s actually like for many trans* people to talk to cis* people about their identities before they’ve actually come out before making a bunch of way off base assumptions and basically implying that we are liars.

  3. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. November 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

    Ugh…no, I’m going with pretty damn bad. I mean Prudie misgenders her several times during her response and plays the whole “deceptive” trope.

    Yes, the fundamental answer is sound…you should be able to leave a marriage or any relationship for any reason or no reason. But Prudie is completely wrong about the why. Not because *she* lied when they got married.

    Also, slightly off topic, some of the things the people in our lives go through aren’t about us and what we’re going through. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact us or we aren’t allowed to have an emotional response to it, but sometimes loving someone is about putting aside what you’re going through, if you can, to help them with what they are going through. That doesn’t mean LW should lie to her spouse about how she feels, but it does mean that perhaps how she’s feeling is not the most crucial component of what is going on at this particular time. /judginess

    1. MK
      MK November 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |

      See, I sort of thought THIS

      some of the things the people in our lives go through aren’t about us and what we’re going through. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact us or we aren’t allowed to have an emotional response to it

      was why the LW was/should be talking to a therapist, too. She (original LW) says she is, but if she doesn’t feel comfortable expressing that the transition of her partner is affecting her, then it isn’t a good therapy relationship, right? And by “good” meaning “productive and helpful to the person receiving theraputic services.”

      The letter seemed to say “I have negative feelings and no outlet; please validate me.” And Prudie mostly does that, sorta kinda maybe. But not in the most productive way.

  4. Jadey
    Jadey November 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm |

    Yeah, put me down as hating Prudie’s phrasing and rationale for her advice, although not disagreeing that if this woman doesn’t feel the same way about her wife as she did about her husband, she isn’t obliged to stay in the marriage. This really sucks for her wife immensely and I hope the LW is able to end the relationship in a way that is as supportive and understanding as possible, but she does neither of them any favours by faking a love she no longer feels. That being said, her wife was also doing no one any favours by pretending to be a person she wasn’t either and remarks like her transitioning voiding the terms of their “contract” or playing into the fucking deception meme is BS blaming. Also, fuck the idea that not id-ing socially as a “man” anymore is equal to “dying” – sorry, some people do have an identity and sense of self that extends just beyond their sex and gender presentation.

    I wish the LW had chosen someone less of a complete asshole to write to.

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca November 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

      Also, fuck the idea that not id-ing socially as a “man” anymore is equal to “dying” – sorry, some people do have an identity and sense of self that extends just beyond their sex and gender presentation.

      Yes!! This totally has been true in my case. My transition is nothing at all like dying. . .a much better analogue would be to a flower blossoming. And the people I want to stay in my life are people who recognize this, as many of my friends and family members do. Others I know, however, do see it more as “dying,” do see it more as the loss of the person they knew. These are people who apparently were more attached to their interpretation of the image I was projecting than to who I actually am as a person. So I’m fine with becoming more distant with such people over time. If the LW does have these feelings that her wife is dying. . .I just think that this drives home the point that they really *should* get divorced. The LW was apparently always more attached to her wife’s image than her wife’s person (at least that’s how I interpret it).

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

        Um, Becca, you might want to not conflate the LW’s words with Prudie’s. LW even says that she doesn’t feel like a widow, but that’s an approximation – if dramatic and weird. I.E., her vision of the man she married no longer exists, as there was a woman there all along. Prudie said LW’s husband is dead (ie LW’s “husband” was real and is dead because “he” – ugh – has decided to “grow breasts”). I mean, I get your ire over the phrasing, but seriously… the person you attribute it to is NOT the person who actually said it, and I think that’s pretty monstrously unfair to someone who afaict was and is trying to do the best by her wife.

        And I think that someone *married* to you has more of an interest in your body/expression than some fucker on the street, or your boss’ secretary’s husband, or whatever. I mean, I desire my wife. I desire her for the person, and yes, the woman that she is, on account of I’m wired that way. I don’t really give a shit what pretty much anyone else identifies as in terms of gender, but I like to think that I”m allowed to have my feelings about the person I’m married to. LW isn’t a cousin or a grandmother or a neighbour, to have no reason to be attached to someone’s sexual/physical self.

        1. trees
          trees November 23, 2012 at 11:13 pm |

          I’ve been kind of confused by some of the response to the LW’s lack of attraction to her wife. LW is sexually attracted to men, and is apparently not sexually attracted to women. LW seems to have love and respect for her wife, but is losing romantic interest. Why is this an issue?

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm |

          I don’t know. . .”feel as though I’m a widow” seems pretty similar to “feel like I’m a widow,” but whatever. I obviously don’t know very much about the reality of the relationship between these two, but I know from my own life, at least, that everyone I felt truly close to was not surprised by my decision to start transitioning, whereas people who I felt had trouble seeing me for who I was all along were surprised (like my mom, for example). These were the people who did and do feel like they were losing someone. The woman I was dating at the time, however, I felt could actually see me even before, and she was not at all surprised and viewed it all as a positive development. She is bissexual, though, so it’s not exactly analogous to the people in the letter, and we also ended up breaking up anyway due to the strain of my transition on our relationship.

          But in any event, I wasn’t trying to be unfair to the LW. She seems like a nice enough woman, and I don’t have any particular problem with her letter, as opposed to Prudie’s horrendous response. I know that a person’s transition can be very difficult to those close to that person, who are thrust into a completely new world that in most cases they were never prepared for. Among other things, society’s transphobia becomes something that people close to the trans person have to start grappling with. And of course, matters of sexual orientation complicate things. I wouldn’t expect any straight, gay, or lesbian person to stay with their partner through transition. If they want to stay together, that’s great. . .but I don’t think it’s a reasonable obligation to place on someone they are no longer attracted to. Moreover, I think anyone who is chronically unhappy in a marriage would be well advised to get a divorce, regardless of the reason they are unhappy.

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 11:45 pm |

          I’ve been kind of confused by some of the response to the LW’s lack of attraction to her wife. LW is sexually attracted to men, and is apparently not sexually attracted to women. LW seems to have love and respect for her wife, but is losing romantic interest. Why is this an issue?

          Well, I don’t think it’s an issue, at least not an ethical issue. The type of clothing a person wears, their secondary sexual characteristics, their genitalia. . .all that form an important basis of who is sexually attractive to many people. So yeah, when some of those things change, as I presume is happening with the LW’s wife, it’s natural that the people who find that person attractive will change also. I don’t think there’s many people who would blame the LW if her feelings of sexual attraction to her wife become diminished over time as her wife’s appearance changes.

        4. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm |

          Response to you is in mod, Mac.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm |

          Thank you, Becca, for your response. I’m in total agreement with most of what you said, but there’s a whack of tiny “gender doesn’t matter” stuff being said on this thread, so trees (and me, I confess) probably read you as saying that even though it turns out you weren’t.

          I also reckon that LW, having a lot of trans friends, has learned to detach “seems” from “is” really quickly on people coming out to her. It’s the considerate/rational/caring/appropriate thing to do, I reckon, anyway. It’s entirely possible that that quickness to detach is fucking her over harder than it would most people as a consequence, and that it would take way way less from her wife to “trip” her, if that makes sense.

          I also pointed out some risk-assessment-related stuff about how gender does in fact totally matter, below, but MODHOOD, ALAS.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm |

          Becca, I’ve got two responses to you in mod.

          ALL THE MOD ALL THE TIME. IN MOD WE TRUST.

        7. DonnaL
          DonnaL November 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

          I don’t understand why Tomek wasn’t banned a long time ago. He’s doing his best to ruin this thread, like every other thread on which he’s commented.

        8. DouglasG
          DouglasG November 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |

          [She is bissexual, though, so it’s not exactly analogous to the people in the letter, and we also ended up breaking up anyway due to the strain of my transition on our relationship.]

          Actually, the LW does not present as definitively heterosexual, although it’s a reasonable presumption. I’ve known both bisexual people who at least claim to “fall in love with people and not body parts” and bisexual people who have said things along the same line as the LW’s

          “To a certain extent, my love for my husband is rooted in his manhood. The more my husband transitions into becoming a woman, the less romantic love I feel for her.”

          In other words, the capacity for unitive relationships with women in general as well as with men won’t necessarily mean that, in the case of a given partner, one would be capable of either a same-sex or an opposite-sex relationship with the partner in question, let alone be able to switch one’s perception of a relationship of some duration.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm |

        These are people who apparently were more attached to their interpretation of the image I was projecting than to who I actually am as a person.

        I meant to quote that in my previous comment.

        I’ll come right out and say it; I would trust a woman (cis, trans, I don’t care, I’m pretty pansexual afaict) with my body more than I would trust a man. I would not feel safe financially bonded with a man; I would not feel safe married to a man; I would not feel safe planning a future with a man. And actually, I would extend that trust to trans men, because they’ve experienced the shit and vulnerability and awfulness that being thought a woman in society entails and they might get where I’m coming from. But not to cis men. I don’t – deep down, gut level, can’t – romantically trust cis men. Yes, fine, whatever, judge me.

        So, while I don’t really feel invested in a platonic person’s – random, unknown, close, doesn’t matter – gender, damn right I care about what gender my sexual partners are. Damn right that affects how I feel about them. I mean, do you seriously plan to tell me that if I make my choices of partners keeping their socialisation and their gender in mind, I’m being somehow superficial? When, fuck that, what I’m trying is to better my chances of survival. I’m disabled. I have mental illnesses. I am an immigrant and not straight and a woman of colour and a goddamn walking “intersectionality” poster. You tell me I’d be as safe without making these assessments.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 3:23 am |

          What I was saying Mac, is that in my case (and in the case of most trans people), transition is a process where one becomes more of oneself. Superficial aspects of oneself get shed and left behind; core aspects of oneself develop and blossom. To me, this indicates that the people who preferred who I was previously to who I am becoming now are people who were attached to superficial aspects of me, rather than to core aspects of me. So yes, I am saying that the clothes someone wears, or whether they have breasts or not, is superficial compared to what that person feels inside and whether that person is confident and happy with themselves or not.

          That said, I don’t think it’s any of my business who other people will or will not date. Some people won’t be in a relationship with a smoker, or a meat eater, or a person with a beard, or a Republican. In your case, you won’t be in a relationship with a cis man. That’s fine by me.

          And yes, cis men are more likely than people who aren’t cis men to be misogynistic, to be rapists, to be violent in general, to have voted for Mitt Romney (egads!), and a bunch of other alarming things, so I completely understand why a person would be leery of them and not want to partner with them. I especially empathize with people who don’t want to date someone who has particular privileges that they don’t when they’ve been repeatedly burned in those situations by those people. I once knew a woman of color who was very hesitant to date white people; I know a pansexual genderqueer person who won’t date straight-identified people. I think that’s their right, and I think it’s appropriate for them to look out for their safety in the way they feel is best.

        2. tomek
          tomek November 24, 2012 at 9:11 am |

          this is seems bigot against men to me. it seems go against feminism idea of evaluate people in terms of individual, not gender. like if i say i dont want to hire woman to work in sofware engineer because have bad maths/programing skill (socialiasation, whatver).

          but however it is your personal feeling and that is important more when it comes to sexual partner

        3. Jadey
          Jadey November 24, 2012 at 10:29 am |

          No, Tomek, it’s not. First of all, it’s a personal relationship. If a man were to feel unsafe and uncomfortable having a relationship with women, that would not be sexist (*unless* his entire premise for feeling uncomfortable was based on sexist beliefs – and then it would be kind of sexist, although still probably preferable that he didn’t have a relationship with any woman under those circumstances). That isn’t comparable to denying employment. Second, it’s not an equally exchangeable circumstance – the point is that in a sexist, misogynistic society, women are far more at risk for physical violence and social domineering by men then men are from women (although individual circumstances can vary), and based on actual experiences with the power imbalance between men and women, a woman might very well not want to introduce that imbalance into her personal life more than it already is. This is different than an unfounded and inaccurate belief about women’s characteristics which are used to justify barring them from job opportunities.

          “Reverse sexism” comments are not going to take you very far on this website.

        4. tmc
          tmc November 24, 2012 at 11:01 am |

          As a poly kinky queer woman, I also very rarely consent to play with cis men – especially cis white men – and I never consent to sex with them. I’ve been burned too many times by them and I just don’t even bother anymore.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 11:36 am |

          What I was saying Mac, is that in my case (and in the case of most trans people), transition is a process where one becomes more of oneself.

          Yes, I hear you, but the thing is that sexual partners are necessarily interested in physical forms in a way that others aren’t.

          So yes, I am saying that the clothes someone wears, or whether they have breasts or not, is superficial compared to what that person feels inside and whether that person is confident and happy with themselves or not.

          I care about my kid. I love her. I want her to be confident and happy and secure. I wouldn’t really care if she were a happy and secure cis woman (as she seems to be?) or a happy and secure trans man. I totally agree with you where my kid is concerned, because I don’t in fact interact sexually with her. Or with my best friend or her husband or my mother-in-law or my sainted aunt. You know? I completely agree with your main point, I just don’t think it applies even a little bit in this case. Clearly, LW still loves/respects/cares for her wife, so it’s just not applicable. IMO anyway.

        6. tomek
          tomek November 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

          jadey yes employ and relationship is not same, but i still think is case.

          in western world such it is today, woman is not good with maths and computer unlike man. but man has trait of violence and dominering unlike woman.

          but if i use average fact like above and not accept for sofware engineer woman, u will say sexist. u will i say i should evalate in individual. however if macavasatimsume use average fact of violence about man and decide not go with man, u will say not sexist she.

          why not in both cases should person be evalated based on individual, not gender? or is indeed maths violence basic trait of sexes?

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

          macavasatimsume

          Once upon a time, there was a macavasatimsume who got endochronitis, so she traveled back in time through her uterus and with electricity join to become a unicorn.

          The end.

        8. Jadey
          Jadey November 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm |

          Tomek, it may astound you to know this, but:

          woman is not good with maths and computer unlike man.

          Not actually true, although women are more likely to be channelled out of these careers because of, surprise surprise, SEXISM.

          man has trait of violence and dominering unlike woman.

          Not characteristic of *all* men by any mean and I personally don’t believe an innate male characteristic (and have seen no compelling evidence for this argument over socialization), but, yes, sexism happens and, yes, men are overwhelmingly more likely to commit violent crimes (for which women are disproportionately victimized in intimate relationships, although not for all assaults totalled – the specific context here is personal relationships though).

          So, as I said, you are pitting unfounded sexist conjecture against demonstrable (if reprehensible) reality. Whether you choose to believe it or not.

          And now I’ve wasted quite enough time trying to communicate with you. The issue is not your grasp of English (you are hardly the only non-Native English speaker here) but rather your persistent ignorance. I have a feeling you are offensive in any language.

          You are currently taking more from this community then you are contributing to it. Kindly fuck off. I’m not going to burn myself out anymore on the pyre of your ignorance.

        9. EG
          EG November 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |

          however if macavasatimsume use average fact of violence about man and decide not go with man, u will say not sexist she.

          why not in both cases should person be evalated based on individual, not gender?

          Because you are not choosing to share your life and most likely have sex with a software engineer. The fact that you can’t understand that women’s decisions about whom they have sex and spend time with are not analogous to a company’s decisions whom to hire is very telling.

        10. Kayay
          Kayay November 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |

          in western world such it is today, woman is not good with maths and computer unlike man. but man has trait of violence and dominering unlike woman.

          but if i use average fact like above and not accept for sofware engineer woman, u will say sexist. u will i say i should evalate in individual. however if macavasatimsume use average fact of violence about man and decide not go with man, u will say not sexist she.

          why not in both cases should person be evalated based on individual, not gender? or is indeed maths violence basic trait of sexes?

          There’s so much fail in this post that it’s more hilarious than Tomek’s usual gems. What is maths violence anyway? Hitting someone over the head with a 2 multiplied by 4?! I wish he’d go forth and multiply.

          Oh and my spouse and I are two women who work in IT.

  5. Esti
    Esti November 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

    I didn’t like Prudie’s response (the misgendering, the assumption of deception, etc.), but I actually really liked the letter itself. It’s obviously a very tough situation for everyone involved, but it sounds like the LW truly loves her partner, is doing everything she can to be supportive, and is recognizing that this marriage may not work for her going forward without blaming her partner. It’s kind of heartwarming.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 12:08 am |

      Yeah, this, pretty much. Like I said in a comment below (which went into mod, because that’s how I roll, apparently) I really admire her grace, and (as someone who could be married to a woman, never to a man) I hope I’d be as kind and understanding in leaving. Because fuck knows a person who’s had the sheer iron-coated GUTS to come out trans (and do all the horrible awful stressful interpersonal shit that society’s deemed it necessary for a trans person to go through) deserves more than pity fucks and charity relationships.

  6. Renee
    Renee November 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm |

    Agreed with pretty much everyone here, and tossing the “your husband died” thing on the fire as well. I know, I know…this gets thrown around a lot (I’ve said it myself at times), but metaphorical or otherwise, no one has died here. It’s kind of a rough thing to have to read on TDOR, to be honest.

    Gender is absolutely important to many (most?) peoples’ romantic and sexual interest. My wife and I went through the same thing, but because we kept each other’s needs in focus, we were able to separate and divorce while remaining amazing friends and terrific supporters of one another. It’s not a terribly unusual outcome and there are support systems out there (though some of them are kinda awful); I hope they’re both able to find them.

  7. Tom
    Tom November 20, 2012 at 11:26 pm |

    I agree, I also liked the original letter’s honesty, empathy and clarity about the different aspects of the situation.

    I want to quickly raise one part of Jill’s commentary:

    And on the one hand I want to say, “Look, you married a person, with all kinds of complexities and issues, and the gender of the person you fell in love with shouldn’t matter.”

    (Of course, Jill already qualified this sentiment herself. I just want to go back over it.)

    This sentiment closely follows the “should have loved harder, or loved more” strand of the peer group response to a divorce or separation.

    It’s a response that isn’t much more valid here than it is under other circumstances. There’s a reason no-fault divorce is important.

    Marriages are complicated and personal (and by nature selfish) affirmations of love. No one is totally obliged to stay in a marriage as it changes, and we all probably know of marriages that have ended over far less.

  8. Miss S
    Miss S November 20, 2012 at 11:28 pm |

    I thought the response was good. The wife sounds miserable, and she should understand that she is entitled to leave.

    Personally, I would. Also, if that person “always felt like a woman in a man’s body” that’s being deceptive, and it’s not cool to get married to a woman who is heterosexual, knowing that you “feel like a woman” and may want to transition in the future.

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve November 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |

      Personally, I would. Also, if that person “always felt like a woman in a man’s body” that’s being deceptive, and it’s not cool to get married to a woman who is heterosexual, knowing that you “feel like a woman” and may want to transition in the future.

      knowing that you “feel like a woman” =/= may want to transition in the future

      1. Miss S
        Miss S November 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

        Of course. I was referring to a person who did know both of those things and married a heterosexual partner anyway.

        1. tmc
          tmc November 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm |

          You don’t think there’s anything suspect about the fact that when this topic came up, your mind immediately jumped to a scenario in which a trans person is willingly deceiving* their partner, even though there’s no indication that that’s what happened here? Really?

          *Considering the power dynamic between cis and trans folk and the enormous physical, financial, and social risks that come with outing someone as trans, I don’t think it’s the business of ANY cis folk to ever try to qualify the actions of a closeted trans person as “deceptive” or not, especially when that “deception” trope is used DAILY to murder the fuck out of trans people and then get away with it with no consequences.

    2. Jadey
      Jadey November 21, 2012 at 11:13 am |

      Miss S, I think you are drastically over-estimating the extent to which a person who is struggling with not fitting into what is cast as an essential social norm (that the body you were born with reflects something deep and enduring about who you are) is going to have the self-awareness and self-confidence to know for certain that they are going to transition in the future.

      Retrospectively, someone might be able to acknowledge that they “always” felt that way, but in the moment things may not be so clear or definite. ESPECIALLY when violating that particular social norm comes with massive consequences. I am (mostly) cis, but not being heterosexual I know what it feels like to have the urge to hunker down, play along, and hope it goes away. Especially if someone has invested in a relationship with someone, loves them, and believes at the time that preserving that relationship is more important than respecting their own self-identity (which is what women are socialized to do after all – trans women being no exception). The situation sucks for the LW, but it sucks for her wife as well – blaming the LW’s wife for bringing this on herself by not being more openly trans in a cissexist, transphobic world is total bullshit.

      Miss S, I really like you and what you bring to this blog, but time and time again you have put your foot in it when it comes to issues about transsexuality.

      1. Jadey
        Jadey November 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

        Having read Donna’s personal account below of her experience with transition and its impact on her relationships, I think that is much more personal, eloquent, and powerful statement of what I was trying to get at in this comment.

        Basically, it takes a lot of cis privilege to say, “You should have known and done something different.”

    3. tmc
      tmc November 21, 2012 at 11:26 am |

      You don’t even have a 101 understanding of trans oppression and cis supremacy. You need to step back and educate yourself before continuing to say fucked up things about trans people here. Seriously

    4. EG
      EG November 21, 2012 at 11:43 am |

      it’s not cool to get married to a woman who is heterosexual, knowing that you “feel like a woman” and may want to transition in the future.

      You seem to be assuming that trans people have some kind of crystal clear understanding of themselves and their identities and their future desires. Given the intense conditioning and shaming trans people are subjected to, along with the lack of clear and helpful information, it is willfully cruel to expect trans people to be loud, proud, and aware from the get-go, and to blame them for “not being cool” when they’re not. Lots of people–trans and cis–make honest mistakes when it comes to self-knowledge and marriage, and that doesn’t make them bad or deceptive or not cool. When those mistakes are the result of growing up in a transphobic culture and can very easily be the result of a person trying zir best to be what ze is told ze should be, that person has been done far great wrong than anything ze is doing to others.

      1. Miss S
        Miss S November 21, 2012 at 3:36 pm |

        I wasn’t referring to someone making an “honest mistake” though. I was referring to someone who knew ahead of time that they felt like a different gender, knew they wanted to transition, and married a heterosexual partner anyway.

        1. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

          And you immediately assumed that the LW’s wife was such a person, even after it was pointed out to you how complicated transgender people’s thoughts about their own gender can be.

        2. EG
          EG November 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

          Why are you jumping to such an unlikely scenario? There’s nothing in the letter to indicate such a thing happened, and the trope of the “deceptive” trans person is a very, very damaging stereotype.

        3. Miss S
          Miss S November 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |

          Well, the LW says that her partner knew that they always felt like a woman. I’m not making that up. If you identify as a woman, why marry a heterosexual woman?

          It would be different if the partner hadn’t always felt that way, but according the LW, they did.

        4. Jadey
          Jadey November 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

          Miss S, have you read Donna’s account yet? Can you understand from that why a trans person might experience dysphoria and “know” they are trans while simultaneously not being able to privately or publicly acknowledge that fact?

          No one here is claiming that the LW is a terrible person for not feeling about her wife the way that she did about the person she saw as her husband. Everyone here recognizes that that is a tough position to be in. But what you seem not to get is how the LW wife’s position is even harder. Things are just not as cut-and-dried as you are making them about to be and your insistence on perpetuating the deceiver trope (the day after TDOR, no less) is probably pretty hurtful for the trans* people reading this thread.

        5. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

          Again, as many people have told you,

          “I’ve always felt like a woman”

          doesn’t mean

          “Since I could first form words I have always known, with complete clarity and no doubt or hesitation whatsoever, that I was 100% a woman. My thoughts on this have always been simple and clear, and the only reason I entered a marriage with you was to deceive and hurt you, because that’s how I roll.”

        6. EG
          EG November 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

          Because “I have always felt like a woman” is not the same thing as “I have always been able to identify this essential unhappiness with my life as being caused by the fact that I am trans and need to live as the woman I am.”

        7. tmc
          tmc November 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm |

          You are saying terrible and actively harmful things. Stop it. Educate yourself. If you continue to unapologetically insist on pushing transmisogynistic tropes even after being told multiple times by multiple people that what you’re saying is harmful, then I can no longer assume good faith on your part, and I will stop being nice.

          I like you, but you are engaging in fuckery. Donna and all other trans folks deserve better.

        8. Miss S
          Miss S November 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |

          Can you understand from that why a trans person might experience dysphoria and “know” they are trans while simultaneously not being able to privately or publicly acknowledge that fact?

          Not really- knowing something is privately acknowledging it. But I get the larger point, and I don’t know whether the non transitioning wife was being deceptive. I said (or should have said) IF they were, it’s not cool. If there was no deception, then it’s just one of those things.

          My “I certainly would” is because I wouldn’t stay in a relationship with someone who transitioned because my sexual attraction isn’t quite that fluid. That doesn’t mean I think no one should- to each his own and if a couple can work through that, that’s awesome.

        9. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 4:04 am |

          I wasn’t referring to someone making an “honest mistake” though. I was referring to someone who knew ahead of time that they felt like a different gender, knew they wanted to transition, and married a heterosexual partner anyway.

          What you were referring to is a fucked up stereotype that you apparently believe in, being that you apparently hold a deeply cissexist perspective on trans issues. Not only is there no evidence that the LW’s wife was in any way deceptive, but there is no evidence that ANY significant number of trans people are EVER deceptive to their partners in regards to their gender identity. So you are basically just speculating based off of your own ignorance and prejudice. Or do you have some evidence that this is an actual phenomenon that you would like to share with us? This could be fun. Oh, and fictional movies and TV shows don’t count as evidence, just so you know.

          Maybe next you can take another stand against some of the other “not cool” things that trans people do to cis people. Like, you know how in Silence of the Lambs, there was that one transsexual, Buffalo Bill. . .who was so sick and fucked up that he killed women and skinned them so he could make a suit out of their skins. . .just so he could look more like a woman! And he like wore women’s clothes, too, and I think he was probably gay or something. I’m concerned about transsexuals like that. Trans women who kill people in that way aren’t cool. I mean, I guess it’s OK if they kill people in self-defense, but it’s not OK if trans women kill people to use their skin to make a suit. You know?

    5. Kristen J.
      Kristen J. November 21, 2012 at 11:57 am |

      No, its not deceptive. People aren’t static. We learn and grow. We become more or less accepting of ourselves. We change in response to internal and external pressures. Those changes don’t make our former selves a lie.

    6. Donna L
      Donna L November 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

      Yes to what everyone said. Just to give a small idea of how confusing these things can be, and how intense the shame and self-hatred can be, I’m about to put in a separate comment an email I sent 12 years ago, in November 2000 (about six weeks after my ex and I separated by my moving out of our house), to a non-trans female friend who knew about my transness because she was also friends with my ex, who told her about; she had made some friendly and accepting overtures to me.

      This was, by the way, long before I learned about my ex’s longterm extra-marital relationship. I thought then, and for a long time thereafter, that it was all my fault. I was probably at a low point in my life in terms of shame and low self-esteem.

      The email is quite long, so I’m sure that it will go into moderation.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L November 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

        This is my Nov. 2000 email:

        This is something I’ve never really talked about with anybody, except for the few very painful conversations I’ve been forced to have with [my ex] on the subject, and except for the fact that I spoke about it on exactly one occasion with my friend [his name] about 13 years ago. (I guess the fact that he’s gay made it easier for me to tell him about it, although, even so, we never discussed it again until I called him up earlier this year and told him that [my ex] and I were separating.)

        I hope it’s safe to presume that you haven’t disclosed to [your husband] any of what [my ex] has told you about me, and won’t disclose to him anything I tell you about myself. (I think I would literally die of shame if any of my straight male friends found out about any of this.)

        I keep thinking that if I had been more careful, none of this might ever have happened. To be honest, though, the thought really never crossed my mind that [my ex] would break open and look in my locked desk drawers and find some women’s clothing — I never knew until recently that that’s how she found the pictures years ago [some mostly G- and PG-rated photos I had taken of myself in my 20’s presenting female, which I stupidly couldn’t bring myself to throw out when I got married, and which my ex eventually and very successfully held over me during the divorce proceedings]; I thought maybe I had left them out by mistake. I know [my ex] thinks I am and always have been in severe denial [I guess she was right!], but I guess I always had the philosophy that it really is possible to compartmentalize one’s life, and do certain things in private on occasion (much more rarely than [my ex] probably believes) without letting it affect the rest of one’s life. I absolutely never intended [my ex] to know about this (let alone expected her to accept it).

        In fact, even though [my ex] believes I horribly deceived her by not revealing this aspect of myself before we were married, and I can certainly understand her feelings, the deception really wasn’t intentional — I truly believed at the time (stupidly and unrealistically, no doubt) that this was something that was in my past, and that it was no more necessary to tell her about it than anything else about my personal history or relationships that was in the past, and that I didn’t think would affect her. Besides, I didn’t want to risk losing her. And, even after her “discovery” some years ago, I suppose I thought that so long as I kept things absolutely private, and didn’t involve other people in the situation — which I never did — we could continue indefinitely, for “[our son’s] sake” if nothing else. I suppose I also thought that maybe she didn’t really care what I did in private, since she had already stopped sleeping with me (I assume you know this) when our son was less than a year old, after telling me that she no longer found me physically attractive. I certainly didn’t think I had any standing to ask about or complain about whatever she did in private. Believe me, I’m not a total idiot; it isn’t like I didn’t know how peculiar our situation was, and it isn’t like it didn’t severely damage whatever minimal self-esteem I ever had to know that my wife not only hadn’t wanted to go to bed with me for almost 10 years, but hadn’t once in all that time wanted to kiss me/hug me/hold my hand/pay me any kind of compliment. I kind of knew how unhappy she was being with me, and I kind of knew it couldn’t continue forever, but I would have been willing to continue at least until [our son] was grown up.

        I just hope that someday the intense anger (and justifiable repugnance/disgust) she has towards me will fade a little, and that maybe she’ll think someday that the 13 years we spent together weren’t totally worthless and horrible (except for [our son]).

        I apologize for burdening you with all this stuff. This has, as you can imagine, been an extraordinarily difficult time for me. Being unable to be with [my son] on an everyday basis has been worse than all the illnesses and hospitalizations with [my chronic illness] and almost as bad as the period [when I was 20] after my parents and I were in that car accident and my mother died. I miss being with [my son] even more than I thought I would, and feel so sorry for him. He is really trying very hard to make the best of things, but it’s so hard for him. All I think about during the week is seeing him on the weekend. Even though he has a lot of anger (which he doesn’t hesitate to display towards me and [my ex]; sometimes he swears like a sailor; he has quite a vocabulary for a 10-year old!), it makes me unimaginably happy to be with him or even just talk to him on the phone;
        sometimes after he goes to sleep I just sit and look at him and think about how lucky I am to have him, how much I love him, and how at least I’ve done one worthwhile thing in my life even if I’ve failed at everything else.

        In some ways, it was a lot easier to “compartmentalize” my life before I moved to the apartment, since I was severely limited by practical constraints in what I could do and the time I could spend doing it. Having the “freedom” now to do what I want when I’m alone in the apartment (which is always, except when [my son] is there!) is a little scary, since it’s so easy to get carried away with this kind of thing, whether by ordering clothes over the Internet, by “dressing up” and staying that way for hours, or otherwise. I do know that even though I don’t consciously feel that I’m traumatized or in a state of shock about the whole situation, I probably am to an extent (especially given how much I think every day about driving my car off a bridge on the way to work, not that I think I could ever really do that to my son), and am probably not in any state to make rational decisions about what I want to do with my life.

        Part of the problem is that I really don’t know what I am or what I want (and have no interest in spending thousands of dollars I can’t afford in therapy to try to find out!) Am I more than just a purely heterosexual occasional crossdresser? I suspect I might be, given how much I wanted to be a girl, and thought I should have been a girl, from my earliest childhood memories, and how horribly painful it was for me to go through male puberty, and how much of a struggle it’s always been to suppress all those feelings. Although, as I said, it’s hard to have much confidence in my heterosexuality when my wife hasn’t wanted to come near me in 10 years. I must confess that when I’ve seen attractive women on the street in the last few years, I’m more likely to imagine what it would be like to be them than to be with them. Maybe I just view myself as such an abject failure as a “man” that this is just something I do to symbolically obliterate myself. I do know that I have no plans whatsoever to have surgery or even to “live” (even part of the time) as a woman; I can’t even imagine ever being able to do that.

        On the other hand, I can’t say I haven’t been tempted in the last few months to fool around/experiment with hormones, as dangerous as I know it is to do that kind of thing without medical supervision. (You’d be amazed what can be bought over the Internet.) I guess the idea I’ve thought of would be to change my body no more than could be concealed, and to continue to live and function outwardly as a man. (Obviously, as a practical matter, I could never live as anything else and still keep my job and fulfill my financial responsibilities. And how could I ever do that to [my son]? Nor, after decades of having masculine behavior ingrained into me, could I ever imagine learning how to talk or act any other way. [Eventually, I realized that I didn’t have to change my manner or affect or voice, or really be anything other than myself, and that transition didn’t necessarily have to be the equivalent of planning an expedition to Mt. Everest!] I do get called ma’am” about 99.9% of the time I’m on the phone with people I don’t know — sometimes even after I identify myself as [male name] — but I think that’s more because I have a high voice than because of the way I talk.

        Anyway, I’m under no illusions about my appearance as a female. I’ve certainly never been considered particularly attractive as a guy, and I’m sure I’m far worse as the other. Even though being 5′ 2″ tall and weighing 115-120 pounds means, ironically, that it’s probably a lot easier for me to find women’s clothes that fit than men’s clothes, I know
        I could never “pass” without extensive cosmetic surgery — something I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. So, at least, there are some practical constraints, even now, on my ability to ruin my life any more than it’s already been ruined!

        I did begin transitioning medically soon thereafter, with hormones purchased over the Internet, because I was much too ashamed to consult a doctor, and believed that any doctor would laugh at me if I said I wanted to transition, because the idea was so ridiculous, etc. It was another five years before the divorce was final and I believed that it was “safe” to actually transition.

        I do hope that this gives people at least some idea how difficult all of this can be.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey November 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |

          *offer of Internet hugs if they are wanted*

          Donna, it feels wrong somehow to thank you for sharing something so very personal that I wish you didn’t *have* to share it, because it almost feels like we’ve coerced you into “proving” your experience, when you shouldn’t have to. But thank you anyway, and I hope that in some way you get more out of this than you have given to it, because that would be the only just thing. Thank you for sharing so that other trans* people might not have to someday, except when they truly want to.

        2. tmc
          tmc November 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

          Thank you Donna.

        3. Alison
          Alison November 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

          Thank you from me too.

        4. GallingGalla
          GallingGalla November 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

          And thank you from me as well.

        5. im
          im November 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

          *internet hugs offered as well*

          I would not be suprised if this is one of the most powerful potential sources of relationship drama even if all parties are totally educated on trans issues.

        6. suspect class
          suspect class November 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

          Thank you, Donna.

        7. mxe354
          mxe354 November 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

          Thank you so much.

        8. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

          I’d like to thank you as well Donna, both for this post and for all your posts.

        9. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia November 25, 2012 at 11:31 am |

          Wow. I am in tears.

      2. J
        J November 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

        *internet hugs* from me as well, and my thanks.

    7. GallingGalla
      GallingGalla November 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

      Y’no, speaking as a trans woman, I am getting absolutely sick and tired of the “deception” meme. This meme is used to justifying murdering us, and it fucking galls me to have to read this on the day after Trans Day of Remembrance.

      Miss S, knock it off.

      To all the trans folk on this thread who had to read this on TDOR, hugs if you want ‘em.

  9. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm |

    EW EW EW EW SKEEVY MISGENDERING. And after the wife was so, so careful to gender (her construct of) her “husband” and her wife as pre- and post-transition. Prudie’s ASSHOLE misgendering is just kinda…um. IDK. Maybe I’m disproportionately skeeved out.

    That said, I really give the LW props for being so careful with her letter. I also really feel for her. I may be (somewhat) bisexual, but for a hell of a lot of reasons, I would never, ever, EVER feel truly safe married to a man, as I do being married to my wife. I would feel hurt and betrayed to find out that I’d been in an opposite-sex marriage all along. So I kind of get where she’s coming from with the heartbroken. Obviously, it’s a totally justified lie of omission – fuck knows I would never give a trans person shit for doing whatever they felt they had to to feel safe/accepted/loved/happy. I mean, it’s like… she married someone who didn’t exist. She has a right to mourn that relationship, even if it was just with someone she’d assumed, rather than who her spouse really was.

    I do think her whole “my husband is dead” thing dramatic and ridiculous, though. “He” never existed, ffs. Mourn the relationship not the person. The person’s still alive.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 11:31 am |

      Okay, ETA: LW said she felt like a widow, PRUDIE said LW’s “husband” was dead. I just realised the difference between the two. Sorry for calling the LW dramatic.

    2. im
      im November 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

      Yeah.

      Same here, I am gender-binary and hetero, and my gender-vision does not turn off. So I’ve often been really worried about what might happen in this situation, esp. since when a person starts to be transitioning might be the very worst time for a tragic breakup. For me, it’s complicated by the fact that I tend to drift away from people really fast.

      I would never categorize it as a deception, although I would hope that this awful suppression ends.

    3. dc
      dc November 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm |

      macavitykitsune:
      “He” never existed, ffs.
      I mean, it’s like… she married someone who didn’t exist.
      That said, I really give the LW props for being so careful with her letter. I also really feel for her. I may be (somewhat) bisexual, but for a hell of a lot of reasons,
      I would never, ever, EVER feel truly safe married to a man, as I do being married to my wife. I would feel hurt and betrayed to find out that I’d been in an opposite-sex marriage
      all along.

      no.
      if i (for example)had been in a relationship,say with a woman,it would not have been an “”opposite-sex” relationship if i went on to transition,any more then it would be a “gay” one,if i was with a man.
      we are still ourselves.
      we aren’t someone else, and if our physicality was “as advertized” so to speak, there is no
      ” it makes you gay/straight” to be with us.
      “He” never existed
      he was her.
      that person existed.
      gender and identity are more complex then that.
      kudos to all for being allies,and to the poster,but “fools walk in”, etc…
      maybe this can’t be easily posted about/discussed…..

      (that said,everyone deserves bodily autonomy,however.
      including the S.O. of a trans partner.)
      so,educate yourselves,people!
      here:
      http://www.tgboards.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=13&sid=b6f13ede924200f4952351296581bf4e

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 22, 2012 at 10:18 pm |

        I was referring to what the LW thought vs the reality of her wife having always been her wife. I’m really confused how you didn’t see that.

        1. dc
          dc November 22, 2012 at 11:04 pm |

          “He” never existed, ffs.
          I mean, it’s like… she married someone who didn’t exist.

          so you were being metaphorical?

          but:
          I would feel hurt and betrayed to find out that I’d been in an opposite-sex marriage all along.

          i mean you wouldn’t be.
          also, “he” never existed could still be read as it sounds.
          because,the identity is the same.
          ditto personality, habits etc.
          but yep, body would be different.
          (ok,what am i missing?
          am i misreading you somehow?that’s entirely possible!)
          not getting on you or anything….
          this is what i mean by complex, though.

          (that board link is re tg “significant others”,
          by the way.so a valuable place to learn stuff…)

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 9:46 am |

          Eh, dc, I’m feeling really hamstrung by the language…?

          She (LW) is in the process of mourning her construct of her “husband” (who was obviously always her wife), which she believed existed but which never did. The male person she thought she was married to, though, was never in existence because she wasn’t married to a male person at all. So, she can’t mourn a person who never existed, because the person who *did* exist has *always* existed – her wife.

          That said, I realised later that LW said she “felt like a widow” (i.e. feels like her perceived partner is gone and her married life has collapsed) and Prudie was the one who extrapolated to “your husband died” (i.e. this horrible meanyface who LIED to you is dead because she’s actually a woman!!!eleventy!), which is the statement I found dramatic and vaguely ‘phobic bullshit.

          I don’t get where I was arguing against trans people’s partners’ bodily autonomy, though? I’m really…if anything I thought I was really clear that she was perfectly entitled to leave…

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 9:53 am |

          Ahh! dc, I replied to you, it went into mod and I *just* realised what might have happened there…what the miscommunication might be.

          I’m a (mostly) cis woman married to a (mostly) cis woman. So, um, if my wife came out to me as trans, I would be in an opposite-sex marriage. I don’t want to be married to men.

          Does that clear things up?

        4. dc
          dc November 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

          if my wife came out to me as trans, I would be in an opposite-sex marriage. I don’t want to be married to men.

          Does that clear things up?

          i get that…..
          my point is though if they didn’t transition say,
          you would still be married to a female bodied person….
          would you be ok w/that?
          (not my business tho,actually)

          but if they transitioned, yes that would suck for you!

          My bodily autonomy point was not a reply, just wanted to re-say that cis people don’t have to rethink their orientation!
          but yeah language!
          anyway have a great day, we are probably saying a version of the same thing lol!

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm |

          My bodily autonomy point was not a reply, just wanted to re-say that cis people don’t have to rethink their orientation!

          But…they DO. They really do. Because, I mean, what’s the alternative?

          “Oh, I’m not attracted to women, but you’re a *trans* woman, so you’re not *really* a woman, because clearly I’m just attracted to your body, so I’m going to keep identifying as straight while being in a relationship with you! Wait, why are you telling me I’m erasing your gender identity? *sadface* ”

          That sounds way more transphobic to me than literally any other option that doesn’t involve actual violence/abuse.

          Uh, I’d rather not go into massive detail about my ladybits’feelings, if that’s okay.

          Lol, I think we are agreeing on most things though.

        6. dc
          dc November 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm |

          Oh, I’m not attracted to women, but you’re a *trans* woman, so you’re not *really* a woman, because clearly I’m just attracted to your body, so I’m going to keep identifying as straight while being in a relationship with you! Wait, why are you telling me I’m erasing your gender identity? *sadface* ”

          well,yep, complex as hell….
          as i said earlier….
          but i think it is possible, if we all try hard, we can work it out somehow.
          whatever treats all parties with respect.
          anyway thanks for dialoging!
          take care!
          *smilieface* lol!
          (ha! spell check wants me to change “smilieface” to “facsimile” !!!
          too funny…)

      2. Jadey
        Jadey November 23, 2012 at 12:34 am |

        that said,everyone deserves bodily autonomy,however.
        including the S.O. of a trans partner.

        Point me to the person on this thread who said otherwise. You may have to pick around all the people who said the exact opposite.

        1. dc
          dc November 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

          Jadey
          i was not talking to you,but to MK.

          also i was stating, as a trans person, that to me cis people deserve as much bodily autonomy(re sex w/ gender of choice)
          as trans people.

          um so your comment is totally superfluous.

          (anyway,happy holidays all)

          & here is another interesting link for anyone interested
          http://www.dyssonance.com/on-trans-community/

  10. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 12:10 am |

    And now my comment where I said my other comment was in mod went into mod. I love how meta the modbot makes things around here sometimes.

  11. Amelia the lurker
    Amelia the lurker November 21, 2012 at 12:11 am |

    I agree that the LW shouldn’t have to feel like she has to stay married to a woman when she is androphilic. I agree with that, and nothing else. The tone, the misgendering, the “deception” angle…God, Prudie is just so full of fail when it comes to anything LGBTQ or gender-non-conforming. In addition to all the ones that Feministe catches, there was one that didn’t show up here, where she told a LW that her husband must be gay because he had an affinity for coach purses. Prudie is just terrible some(most)times.

    1. im
      im November 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

      That is kind of spectacularly bad. I can understand not understanding minorities proportional to how small the minority is. But seriously? Has she really never heard any gay sterotype-busting?

  12. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 12:53 am |

    I kind of hoped that Jill wouldn’t notice this particular column. But I guess it was inevitable that it would end up as a post here.

    There’s nothing wrong with anything the letter-writer said, other than the fact that I can’t imagine why anyone would write to Prudie about something like this. I hope she’s aware that there are other resources for spouses/partners of transitioning trans women, whether or not they have any interest in trying to continue the relationship — online support groups, books (like Helen Boyd’s books, getting in a plug for a friend!), and so on. Prudie? Not so much.

    As others have said, nobody’s obligated to stay or try to stay in a marriage to anyone, and the writer, a straight woman, is hardly a “bad person” for not wanting to be married to another woman. Why should she be expected to be able to be something she isn’t, by changing her sexual orientation, any more than her spouse can be expected to remain something she isn’t? Look, I don’t think too many married trans women I’ve ever known have even expected their marriages to survive their transition. Most don’t, and it’s pretty sad; the best that can sometimes be hoped for is that if the marriage has to end, it can happen without hatred and revenge, and the use of children, if any, as an instrument of warfare. In other words, the same thing one hopes for in any divorce situation.

    I always hope that there will be fewer marriages, and fewer situations like this in the future, as trans people start coming out at younger ages (to themselves and to the world), and the stigma of doing so decreases. But I don’t think they’ll ever disappear entirely; the external and internal pressure to try to be “normal” is immense, and not everyone is self-aware from an early age. Even among those who are aware of what’s going on (to a greater or lesser extent), there will always be trans people — especially, for trans women, those who are attracted to women — who are deeply ashamed of themselves, and think, consciously or otherwise, that marriage to a woman will “cure” them.

    That’s what I thought; I really did, when I got married in the late 1980′s — as incredibly pathetic and naive as it may sound, especially given my awareness of my “issue” since early childhood. If the Internet had been around back then, and I had actually met another trans person before the age of 40, I’m sure I would have been a whole lot better informed, but internalized shame and transphobia can be pretty powerful nonetheless. I didn’t think I was engaging in deception; I really didn’t. Although I knew, especially in those days, that if I said anything at all about it, I would never be able to get married, to my ex or anyone else, and would never be able to have a child. Which I wanted very much. Being trans back then was about on a social par with having sex with animals. How could I bring something like that up? Even so, I remember talking to the one friend I’d ever told about myself, and asking him if I was morally obligated to bring it up, and he told me that he didn’t think I was, if I sincerely believed that it was all in my past. Which I did believe. Famous last words. But I’ve paid for it and been punished for it, in all sorts of ways, for the last 25 years, enough so that I no longer feel so guilty about it.* Yes, I should have brought it up before marriage — but I didn’t, and couldn’t, and really had no idea that I’d end up transitioning someday; even when my transness turned out not to be in the past, and not to be something I could suppress forever, I thought transition was impossible, a completely unrealistic dream. And I can’t go back in time and tell my ex before marriage now; there’s nothing I can do about it. And probably wouldn’t even if I could, because where would my son be then?

    Anyway, more about what Prudie said later, but I really don’t think she had to bring up the deception angle. It just wasn’t necessary to go there; the writer doesn’t need to be an innocent victim of trans deception to have a good reason to not want to remain married.

    Donna

    * Especially since it turned out that there were things my ex didn’t tell me about either, things that she had no intention of giving up, like the pre-existing boyfriend who apparently came in under some kind of grandfather clause I must not have noticed in the ketubah!

    1. GinnyC
      GinnyC November 21, 2012 at 11:26 am |

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I haven’t been commenting recently, but felt compelled to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing your story.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 11:36 am |

      Honestly, Donna, it sounds like the person you were mainly deceiving was yourself – out of a messy, complicated combination of hope/desperation/terror/need for love/need for security that fuck knows, I get, growing up illegally oriented and all. It sounds like you were trying to make the best out of a horrible, awful, and (if you don’t mind my applying the word to it) traumatising situation. I truly fail to see how anyone could blame you for it.

      Uh, and I know this is a bit oversteppy, but from this and other comments, it sounds like your ex was kind of a fucking prize. Ugh.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L November 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

        Thanks, Ginny and Mac. I try not to be too hard on my ex, or think too much about what happened back then. After all, she is my son’s mother, and I loved her once, so I can’t ever hate her, no matter what. All I ever wanted was for her to acknowledge that not everything that happened was 100% my fault, and to try to see things from my viewpoint, at least a little. That never happened, but we do get along pretty well now, probably because we have no real reason ever to communicate other than about our son. And my son does tell me, whether it’s true or not, that she occasionally acknowledges that I’m a good person, and even sometimes uses the correct pronoun for me now, more than 7 1/2 years after our divorce.

        By the way, I didn’t actually transition socially, or tell my ex that that’s what I intended, until after the divorce was final, five years after we separated, and almost five years after I began — secretly — transitioning medically. I didn’t feel that I could take the risk of my transness becoming even more of an issue in the divorce than it already was, or of getting into a custody battle that might result in my losing my son. in a custody fight. So, as difficult as it was, I waited those five years, and finally transitioned when my son was 15. (I had finally told him a year previously that I was trans — although it turned out that he had long since figured that out himself — and that I was planning to transition once the divorce was final.)

        1. Donna L
          Donna L November 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

          A thank you, plus a further explanation, is in moderation.

  13. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 1:07 am |

    Naturally and inevitably, my rather lengthy comment, about the whole “deception” implication, went into moderation.

    But yes, Prudie’s response was horrendous. I could give the letter-writer a pass for misgendering her spouse — it can take quite some time to get used to even when people are trying to be respectful — but somehow she managed not to. Prudie can’t even show the decency to use the correct pronoun when the letter-writer does? Instead, she goes out of her way to say “he” and “him” 12 times (I counted) in a single paragraph? Despicable.

    But I hate Prudie’s “the husband you knew died” comment even more, especially since the writer didn’t even say she feels that way.
    I get that claiming to a spouse that you’re the “same person inside” that you were before can be incredibly unrealistic and remarkably unhelpful, but there’s a hell of a lot of territory between staying away from that sort of language, and the “transition = death” concept. I didn’t die. I’m still here. My son hasn’t lost me. I know the difference, and so does he.

    You know what’s most depressing? Almost the exact same response, with the exact same degree of ignorance, could easily have been written by an advice columnist 10 years ago, or even 20 years ago. Sometimes I think that nothing ever changes.

  14. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 1:08 am |

    God damn it. Now my second comment, saying that my first comment went into moderation, went into moderation itself.

  15. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 1:09 am |

    And why did this have to come up on TDOR, of all days? Just great.

    1. Li
      Li November 21, 2012 at 1:29 am |

      Yeah, have to say, I am not fond of the timing of this post.

  16. Unree
    Unree November 21, 2012 at 1:13 am |

    I don’t have an informed opinion on this question but I do know Prudie is bad at her job. Not insightful, not compassionate, not aware, not a good writer. Her bosses probably keep her because her click-count is high enough and she seems not too left, not too right, just … meh.

  17. Miss S
    Miss S November 21, 2012 at 2:31 am |

    Don’t know what happened to my comment…

    I thought the response was good. The wife sounds unhappy, and she should understand that she is entitled to leave.

    I think the ‘deceptive’ angle came into play because apparently the spouse admitted that they “always felt like a man in a woman’s body.”

    1. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue November 21, 2012 at 3:30 am |

      I have a comment in mod about this, but basically there’s a difference between feeling like you’re a “woman trapped in a man’s body” and realizing you feel that way.

    2. Li
      Li November 21, 2012 at 3:32 am |

      I have a longer comment above in mod, but I want to restate that just because someone has long-term experiences of gender dysphoria doesn’t mean that they’ve processed them or recognised them as trans*ness. People have to know themselves as trans women before they’re able to disclose that to anyone else.

    3. Andie
      Andie November 21, 2012 at 11:43 am |

      Yeah I don’t necessarily find it at all deceptive.

      It is entirely possible to have ‘always’ felt a certain way while only recently putting a finger on what precisely that feeling was.

      The LWs wife may have always felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body but that doesn’t mean that she’s always been able to articulate that feeling or its implications.

      Even if she figured it out some time ago, I agree with Jadey that given society’s attitudes towards trans people, expecting the LW’s wife to have her ‘aha’ moment then immediately blurt it out to all and sundry without taking some time to seriously consider what this realization means to her and those around her is seriously unrealistic.

    4. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 4:32 am |

      Yes, Miss S, you did think the response was good. And you thought wrong.

      Also. . .just an FYI, but in English speaking cultures the third person pronoun generally used to describe an individual woman, such as the letter writer’s wife, is actually she, not they. They, in contrast, is generally used to describe a group of more than one person, a hypothetical person of unknown gender (i.e. a cissexist person should not haphazardly spout their bullshit opinions, especially on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, because if they do it is highly likely that they will hurt someone), or a person who identifies as genderqueer or outside of the gender binary.

      I’m going to assume you don’t understand what that last sentence I wrote meant.

  18. ollie
    ollie November 21, 2012 at 4:31 am |

    The first thing that got my hackles up was the reduction of transition / transgender-ness to “growing breasts”. Just … eurgh. Eurgh. It’s like she’s trying to be ‘right on’ about this but her basic conservative revulsion is showing through. LW doesn’t say a word about the physicality of transition, and yet what’s the first thing that comes up in the response? And it just gets worse from there.

  19. EG
    EG November 21, 2012 at 5:07 am |

    There’s a lot Prudie didn’t say. She didn’t validate the writer’s desire to support her wife. She didn’t provide her with the contact info to any online support groups for spouses of people transitioning (in this day and age, I don’t believe for a New York minute that there aren’t any helpful groups around). She didn’t give her a road map for when and how to have this conversation with her wife in a respectful, loving, compassionate way. She didn’t say that it was possible–with work, with difficulty, with pain on both their parts–to end the marriage and to support her wife.

    Even with the misgendering and the deception and the death angle, I think what I dislike most about this answer (and bear in mind I am not trans, so I’m not saying this is what’s worst, because I don’t have to bear the pain of those tired old insults) is the Prudie, unlike the letter-writer, doesn’t seem to give a jot of attention to the transitioning wife. Her answer is so brief, and it’s basically “Yep, you’re justified in leaving.” Well, that’s true, but the writer pretty clearly cares about more than that, and a compassionate response would put that answer in the context of how to stay kind to and connected to and supportive of the wife if that’s what the letter-writer wants (and I think it’s clear from the letter that she does), rather than just writing off the transitioning wife with “well, she changed the contract of the marriage by deciding to start growing breasts, so you go ahead and leave.”

    And I’m not a fan of denoting all the complicated life changes of transitioning as “starting to grow breasts.”

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 11:39 am |

      Yeah, if I were the LW, my thought process would currently be “Well, gee, Prudie, I’m really glad you, like, addressed my actual question in ten whole words in the middle of your ramblebamble and transphobic misgendering and weird equations and all that fucknuttery. Real helpful. I also really like how you didn’t address my ancillary questions in any detail, and rephrased me to sound like a total douche! But I guess you got your novelty-morbid-fascination click quota out of it, so we’re all good, riiiiight? …..fucker.”

  20. EG
    EG November 21, 2012 at 5:10 am |

    And one more thing (comment in mod)–I want to second those who feel that the timing on this wasn’t good. I was hoping for a more thoughtful acknowledgment of TDoR.

    1. DonnaL
      DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |

      Or an acknowledgment at all, since Jill doesn’t mention it. I certainly hope this wasn’t supposed to be Feministe’s TDOR post.

  21. Medusa
    Medusa November 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |

    I’m not sure I get it either… I think the wife is entitled to leave. Sure, gender is a social construct that teaches men and women to behave in certain ways based on what genitalia they happen to have been born with. That said, physical attraction is sexual, and I can understand why a straight cis woman would no longer be sexually attracted to the person she married, if when they married she married a cis man, but that person realized that the truth is that she is a trans woman. I mean, it sucks, but I don’t truly think that any amount of conditioning, open-mindedness, or understanding can make a straight woman change her sexual attraction to cis men.

  22. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 10:49 am |

    My two long comments are now out of moderation, if anyone’s interested in scrolling up a bit.

    Yes to the criticisms of Prudie’s reduction of all of transition to “growing breasts.” It’s a lot more than that, as I hope everyone here realizes, and the way she says it makes me very uncomfortable .

    I was going to try to respond to Miss S’s comments, but for once, I can’t. I can’t always do this. I’m sure everyone else will handle it just fine. I’ll just say this, Miss S: I’m sure you think you’re being “even-handed” by using “they” as your pronoun for the letter-writer’s trans spouse, but it comes across to me as your going out of your way to avoid using female pronouns. Which, as I pointed above, the letter-writer herself had no problem doing. If you can’t even bring yourself to be that respectful, I’d almost prefer it if you used male pronouns like Prudie did.

    1. Miss S
      Miss S November 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm |

      So you’re not responding to my comments, but you… are responding to my comments?

      In a more recent comment, I posted “non transitioning wife.” I’m not interested in getting into an online argument because I put a space where I wasn’t supposed to, or didn’t put one where I was supposed to, so I went gender neutral. Of course, you still had to find a problem with my comments. No surprise there.

      1. EG
        EG November 22, 2012 at 11:47 am |

        I’m not interested in getting into an online argument because I put a space where I wasn’t supposed to, or didn’t put one where I was supposed to, so I went gender neutral. Of course, you still had to find a problem with my comments. No surprise there.

        Are you actually being hostile to Donna because she’s had the gall to point out the hurtful cis-sexism in your comment? Being gender-neutral about a trans woman is offensive. A trans woman is not gender-neutral; a trans woman is a woman and takes feminine pronouns.

        Your cavalier dismissal of the hurtful effects of talking about trans people using the wrong terminology is cis-sexism in action, and the equivalent of a man complaining about it’s impossible to know that it’s not OK to call a woman a girl or a chick, and why are these women never satisfied with what he says. You don’t want to get into an argument? Then apologize when you fuck up and somebody calls you on it.

        “Of course, you still had to find a problem with my comments. No surprise there.” What the fuck is that about? Plenty of people have found problems with the transphobia and cis-sexism in your comments because your comments were offensive. This kind of comment is about silencing trans women who have the nerve to demand respect from cis women.

      2. EG
        EG November 22, 2012 at 11:55 am |

        Of course, you still had to find a problem with my comments. No surprise there.

        Longer response in mod, of course. So here I just want to say that yes, of course Donna has a problem with the transphobia in your comments. That’s because your comments were riddled with problems.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

        Miss S, I like you, but sometimes people have a problem with your comments because your comments are problematic. I get that you mean well, you’re just not communicating that.

      4. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 4:46 am |

        Believe me Miss S. . .the fucked-upped-ness of what you like to write about on trans-related topics goes far beyond any potential irregularities with your space bar technique. Please never associate with trans people or opine in any forum anywhere about anything related to us ever again.

        Thank you.

    2. Miss S
      Miss S November 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

      DonnaL- I apologize, and I mean that sincerely.

      I don’t agree with everything you say, and I know we don’t have the same perspectives on everything but I can certainly make an effort to phrase things in a better manner.

      I see people using gender neutral language on here ALL the time, like using ‘zie’ so I do feel like your comment wasn’t necessary and (maybe I’m taking things personally) I feel like you only respond to my comments when it’s something you don’t agree with, and you ignore my comments when it’s something you do. So you come across as kind of hostile to me, and I ignore your comments or don’t respond to them as a result.

      So here’s my sincere apology to everyone here who was offended by my language. It’s not okay, and I can do better.
      Happy Thanksgiving/Happy Holidays :)

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 4:56 am |

        So here’s my sincere apology to everyone here who was offended by my language. It’s not okay, and I can do better.
        Happy Thanksgiving/Happy Holidays :)

        I was offended, both by your language and by the underlying beliefs which were being articulated by your language. One thing that you’re right about is that it’s not okay. But please don’t try to “do better.” I know most of this comment is sarcastic, but here I am being completely sincere: please simply focus on never offering up an opinion on trans issues to anyone ever again. I believe you can do this.Thanks in advance.

        Oh, and I reject your apology BTW.

        But happy holidays!! :-)

        1. Miss S
          Miss S November 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |

          please simply focus on never offering up an opinion on trans issues to anyone ever again. I believe you can do this.Thanks in advance.

          I will continue to offer my opinion on any thread that I choose. I have my thoughts and perspectives, and they’re no less valid than yours.

          Oh, and I reject your apology BTW

          That’s fine- I didn’t demand that everyone accept it.

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

          I believe that your thoughts and perspectives on a great number of topics are absolutely fine. . .even very wonderful sometimes. But on transgender topics. . .while they may be “valid” as in a valid expression of who you are. . .they do not accurately correspond to external reality. They are also extremely hurtful and oppressive. And yes, I do expect you to continue to comment on transgender topics, both in this forum and elsewhere, because generally people with oppressive behaviors see little reason to change those behaviors. That’s just the sad, intractable nature of privilege and oppression for you.

        3. tmc
          tmc November 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |

          I will continue to offer my opinion on any thread that I choose. I have my thoughts and perspectives, and they’re no less valid than yours.

          On trans issue, your perspectives and thoughts are shit. You are actively hostile towards and dismissive of trans folks, showing not only a fundamental lack of understanding of trans oppression and cis supremacy (as well as the imbalance of power between *you* personally and the trans folks you interact with on this site), but an inability to even empathize with trans folks on a basic level.

          You show absolutely no interest in acknowledging your privilege or willingness to reflect on exactly WHY you get so much pushback whenever you open your mouth on this topic. “It’s not okay, and I can do better” is so vague as to be almost fucking meaningless. WHAT’S not okay? Do you even have a basic understanding of why what you’ve pushed here is harmful? HOW are you going to do better?

          Of course you’ve got as much right to show your ass here as anyone else does, but that’s not something that I would brag about.

        4. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm |

          I will continue to offer my opinion on any thread that I choose. I have my thoughts and perspectives, and they’re no less valid than yours.

          When it comes to trans issues, your thoughts and perspectives are less valid than those of trans people. Can you see how that works. Can you see how, obviously, a trans woman would be more able to talk about her experiences and perspectives than you would be? It seems like you understand this when it comes to other issues, so I’m not sure why you don’t seem to understand it when it comes to trans issues.

      2. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm |

        Miss S, I’m not one to refuse apologies. Still, this one seemed to be accompanied by a lot of qualifications that amounted to telling me I had it coming, what with my making that silly fuss about your using inappropriate pronouns, and my supposed hostility to you. (What? The only times I recall disagreeing with you have been about trans issues, and on that awful thread in which a certain person — not you — was expounding about how the belief that homosexuality is a sin isn’t homophobic, the supposed tenets of Judaism, and so on, and you came in to try to defend her. I’m not “hostile” to you personally; I’m hostile to the ignorant and/or offensive things you say.)

        So, gee, thanks for the apology. As strange as it was, I accept it, because I figure anyone who’s more ignorant than hateful deserves a chance to “do better,” to use your words. Let’s see if that happens. Actually listening to what trans people and their allies have to say might be a good start.

        1. DonnaL
          DonnaL November 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm |

          My response to Miss S is, naturally, in moderation.

        2. Miss S
          Miss S November 26, 2012 at 12:01 am |

          People, I’m not stupid. I’ve used the word “they” in place of “he” or “she” before- I do it all the time when speaking. It was insensitive in this particular case, but it’s not incorrect and I’m tired of everyone acting like I’m a complete idiot or hateful person for using ‘they’ in place of a gendered pronoun. It’s not a slur or a hateful term, it’s neutral. Insensitive in this case, yes- which is why I apologized.

          So, please STFU with the grammar lessons- I apologized yesterday and there are still comments below talking about it. I know some commenters here LOVE the pile on but seriously, move the f*** on. It’s over.

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 1:48 am |

          That’s right. You as a cis person get to decide what’s offensive to trans people and exactly how offensive it is. How often have you been called “they,” Miss S, because someone couldn’t figure out your gender? You are so full of shit that it makes me sick. That wretched apology you floated yesterday was an insult. Everything you have to say about trans people is offensive, and every time you respond to a trans person, something offensive happens. Acting like all that you’ve done is made an innocent linguistic slip up–I am shaking with rage right now. Why won’t you just leave us alone? Why do you feel compelled to continuously flaunt your privilege, your ignorance, and your disdain for the trans people who have the audacity to challenge it?

        4. EG
          EG November 26, 2012 at 11:55 am |

          It was insensitive in this particular case, but it’s not incorrect

          No. It was both insensitive and incorrect, insensitive because it was a misgendering of a trans woman, and incorrect because the correct pronoun to use when speaking of an individual woman is “she.”

          You really are incapable of speaking to Donna without hostility, aren’t you? Here you are, still rabbiting on about how it was just an innocent mistake!!!!1!!!1! and telling trans people who are upset to STFU, as though you get to decide what level of transphobia and cis-sexism they (this is the correct use of “they,” by the way, because I’m referring to multiple people) should put up with quietly. You don’t. Men don’t get to tell women what’s sexist and what’s not and when they have to STFU and get over it, and cis people who’ve fucked up don’t get to tell trans people what’s sexist and what’s not and when they have to STFU and get over it.

          Your inability to speak or listen respectfully to any trans person on this thread is telling. In your apology you said that you could do better, but it sure doesn’t look like you can. If you’re tired of everybody acting like you’re an idiot or a hateful person, maybe you should start listening to what the trans people on this thread are telling you.

        5. Miss S
          Miss S November 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm |

          Acting like all that you’ve done is made an innocent linguistic slip

          I apologized. It was, apparently, a linguistic slip up, as MANY people have pointed out to me. One- I didn’t think it was grammatically incorrect, because that’s how I talk. Two- I didn’t think it was offensive. I WAS WRONG. I apologized. Still, no one can let it go.

          Why won’t you just leave us alone?
          I asked you yesterday to stop replying with snarky messages. You refused.

          You really are incapable of speaking to Donna without hostility, aren’t you?

          Um, yeah. I’m being hostile, but she isn’t being singled out. That’s because I have like 200 replies of people STILL going on about my “linguistic mistake” even after I apologized. I’ve said it before; this group LOVES the pile on. I’m not going to be friendly and cheerful after that. Who would be? People are basically calling me stupid for a grammatical error. IRL, I would be doing more than typing a snarky reply if someone implied I was stupid because it’s disrespectful. I don’t need 200 comments telling me my language was wrong. A few, yes, and I understood and apologized. Now? It’s just ridiculous and kind of weird. It makes no sense to correct someone repeatedly for 3 days, when that person has already been corrected by several others and apologized.

        6. GallingGalla
          GallingGalla November 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

          G-ds damn it, Miss S, it isn’t a “grammatical error”. If you can’t see the disrespect in calling a trans woman “they” and how that denies her gender, along with the whole “transition isn’t black and white” skating-very-close-to-radfem thing, along with your condescending “oh I’ll give you basic respect” thing, along with your defensiveness and fauxpologies, then there’s no hope, is there?

          YOU DON’T GET TO DEFINE WHAT’S HARMFUL TO TRANS FOLK. We do.

          This whole “grammatical error” thing of yours is just … grating.

          And if it seems like we’re “piling on”, well you are pissing a lot of people off.

        7. EG
          EG November 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

          If you could please point to a correction that’s time-stamped after your apology? A post correcting you as if nobody had pointed it out?

          IRL, I would be doing more than typing a snarky reply if someone implied I was stupid because it’s disrespectful.

          Oh, it’s disrespectful? That is a shame, and after you’ve shown nothing but respect to trans people, too, invoking the “deception” nonsense and suchlike.

        8. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 27, 2012 at 12:28 am |

          No one here thinks you are stupid. People think you are a bigot. And you are. WE are not fucking stupid either. The smoking gun on this wasn’t you saying “they,” or even you talking about how a hypothetical trans woman was being “not cool” by being deceptive about her gender (you still haven’t provided any evidence as to when this has actually ever happened in real life). . .the smoking gun is your unrepentant hatred toward us for choosing to challenge you in any way. Well-intentioned but ignorant people sometimes make mistakes and then apologize (like actually apologize–not passive aggressively fake apologize) and then try to actually “do better.” You have done nothing of the kind. Every comment you post further displays your contempt toward trans people.

          It’s clear that you don’t give a fuck about trans people or our struggle for liberation, and you think we have no right to question or challenge you on anything at all. And you dislike us. . .because we are hostile, we love to pile on, we are singling you out, we are immature, and god knows what else that you are smart enough to not say out loud here. God knows what you are reading on these “other” feminist websites that don’t present a “black and white” viewpoint on trans issues.

          I wasn’t born yesterday. This isn’t my first rodeo. I can smell a bigot from a mile away. I know you don’t think you are a bigot, because bigots rarely do, but your actions betray you.

          The sad thing was before this I thought you were just ignorant on trans* issues but were well-intentioned. And I liked what you had to say on most other topics. But I doubt I will ever be able to look at you the same way, knowing what you really feel about people like me.

        9. Miss S
          Miss S November 27, 2012 at 4:31 am |

          EG-
          My apology on 11/22 at 3:56
          DonnaL- I apologize, and I mean that sincerely.
          LotusBecca the next day
          Also. . .just an FYI, but in English speaking cultures the third person pronoun generally used to describe an individual woman, such as the letter writer’s wife, is actually she, not they. They, in contrast….
          Same day, still LotusBecca
          I was offended, both by your language and by the underlying beliefs
          11/26 LotusBecca
          Acting like all that you’ve done is made an innocent linguistic slip up

          You, on 11/26
          and incorrect because the correct pronoun to use when speaking of an individual woman is “she.”

          Gallinggalla
          G-ds damn it, Miss S, it isn’t a “grammatical error”.

          This is now days after my mistake, and days after the apology. That’s why I said that people need to get over it. What sense does it make to keep talking about the exact same thing, when someone has acknowledged their mistake, corrected it, and apologized? Note, I haven’t used an incorrect pronoun since it was addressed to me. I took the criticisms seriously.

          The attitude you’re seeing now isn’t because I was ‘challenged.’ I was wrong, I apologized, I moved on. I have this attitude because I hate this fucking mob mentality and I fucking hate being talked to like I’m stupid.

          I can smell a bigot from a mile away.
          Yea! Good for you!!
          …..But seriously, Lotus Becca, consider me a bigot. I don’t care. I post here often enough that at least some people know that’s not true. But you are determined to make me into some evil radical trans hating woman, so go ahead. You didn’t want my apology, I have nothing for you. It is a shame, because I had a lot of respect for you, and knew that I could always count on at least one person to share my opinion on any economics thread.

          BUT I don’t care if I’m on a blog, or in a real life discussion room- I get really shitty when people act like I’m stupid or when multiple people feel like they need to pile on. It does come across as hostile, and who wouldn’t get hostile back?

          DonnaL- I’ll say it again- my apology was sincere. If I could go back and type that comment again the right way, I would. Not just because of this shitstorm of a comment section, but because it hurt people’s feelings. That was not my intent, but I own up to the fact that it did.

        10. EG
          EG November 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

          Miss S, all I can see in your examples is one correction. The others are all in direct response to you defending the use of “they” as “not incorrect,” or a grammatical slip, or they are putting that one thing in the context of the offensive meaning of your statements, an offensive meaning you have yet to address or apologize for.

          Same day, still LotusBecca
          I was offended, both by your language and by the underlying beliefs
          11/26 LotusBecca
          Acting like all that you’ve done is made an innocent linguistic slip up

          In these examples, Becca is saying that the language for which you’ve apologized is not the only problem; what you were saying with that language–the deception trope is also a problem.

          You, on 11/26
          and incorrect because the correct pronoun to use when speaking of an individual woman is “she.”

          That was in direct response to you defending your use of “they” as insensitive but not incorrect. You were wrong about that.

          Gallinggalla
          G-ds damn it, Miss S, it isn’t a “grammatical error”.

          This is about recognizing that it’s not a petty issue of grammar that’s at stake, and also, I believe, about your use of the deception trope.

          Reducing all the problems with your posts to pronoun-misuse is part of the problem that is enraging people.

        11. Donna L
          Donna L November 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

          I haven’t used an incorrect pronoun since it was addressed to me. I took the criticisms seriously.

          It’s true that you haven’t used an incorrect pronoun since then, and that’s certainly a good thing. I’ll be even happier when I see you start consistently using the correct pronoun (which you’ve done exactly once, in referring to me just now) rather than avoiding pronoun use entirely.

        12. Donna L
          Donna L November 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

          You also have to understand that experience teaches trans people to be very suspicious of any cis person who buys — at all — into the “deception” concept. Especially given that you seem to be ignoring what so many people have explained about your hypothetical scenario being incredibly unlikely, and are continuing to focus on it rather than on the overwhelming majority of cases when alleged “deception” is used as a club to attack trans people, sometimes literally as well as figuratively.

          And you’ve also failed to explain what you mean about transition not being a “black and white” scenario, or what you were talking about when you referred to other feminist websites that purportedly permit debate about such things. Why are you so surprised that trans people and their allies are skeptical?

  23. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    And continuing the meta trend, my comment pointing out that my two earlier comments are now out of moderation if you scroll up a bit, is itself in moderation!

  24. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 21, 2012 at 10:55 am |

    She didn’t provide her with the contact info to any online support groups for spouses of people transitioning (in this day and age, I don’t believe for a New York minute that there aren’t any helpful groups around).

    There definitely are. Helen Boyd runs a private Yahoo group for partners of trans people (mostly trans women, I think), and I know there are others.

  25. Bloix
    Bloix November 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |

    The line that peeved me the most was the horrible mixed metaphor in the sentence, “he has so materially changed the contract of your marriage that … the husband you knew has died.”

    The first half of that sentence implies that the husband has committed a breach of contract that permits the wife to discontinue her performance of the contract terms. If there’s a less useful way to understand what she is experiencing I’m not aware of it – except maybe for the second half of the sentence, which implies that she should act as if the person who is literally sleeping in her bed and sitting at her breakfast table isn’t there any more.

    And the combination of these two incompatible ideas – breach of contract = death – is sloppy word-salad incoherence. As Unree says, Prudie is just not very good at her job.

  26. Matt
    Matt November 21, 2012 at 11:44 am |

    I feel like this (as well as several other Prudie columns flagged here over the years) is a good example of how Prudie tends to view all problems presented to her through the lens of propriety and etiquette, in the sense of always needing to assign culpability of some sort. Etiquette-type questions (‘my grandmother doesn’t like my fiance and slights her at dinner,’ ‘my uncle didn’t invite my stepbrother to the family weekend,’ ‘my neighbors have really loud sex’) usually exist in a context of well-defined behavioral roles and responsibilities that make it possible to apportion blame and then infer the appropriate response. Your grandmother is being unreasonable. Your uncle has no obligation to your stepbrother and you are being unreasonable. Your neighbors are having orgasms at inconsiderate decibel levels and you can ask them to stop doing that. Whatever. There’s always SOMEBODY in the equation who’s behaving inappropriately, and her mode of analysis involves identifying who that is and then proposing some kind of remedy.

    But then there’s the kind of letter presented here, in which the LW is in a tough bind, but not one that’s caused by anyone doing anything wrong. I recall a vaguely similar letter in which a husband wrote in saying that, right after their wedding, something triggered past trauma for his wife and their sex life stopped. Like this LW, he was basically asking to be validated in his desire to end the marriage. As she does here, Prudie gave him that validation. And as she does here, Prudie had to add in some line about it being the wife’s fault for concealing something relevant about her past.

    NB: Humans are complicated. Social relationships are complicated. Sometimes difficult, painful situations develop even when nobody’s done anything wrong. That’s one of those realizations at which adult human beings are supposed to arrive at some point. Doubly so for advice columnists.

  27. chava
    chava November 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm |

    Prudie doesn’t even suggest &^*% counseling, or more time than THREE MONTHS to let things shake out. I can’t imagine anyone, the cis spouse or the trans one, having everything be totally smooth and peachy after just three months.

    I understand having a hard time getting around the loss of masculine gender markers–it’s a pretty big part of my sexual and romantic orientation, for one. But Prudie could have suggested any number of things–couples counseling, trying out new kinds of sex and intimacy, etc. Or even a companion marriage, if both parties would be happy with that.

    But nooooo, we’re all “your husband died and he’s [sic] growing BEWBS.”

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable November 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

      Was there anything in her letter that read to you that any of those suggestions are welcome or appropriate (with the possible exception of companion marriage)?

      1. chava
        chava November 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

        It’s a pretty short letter that she sent to an advice columnist, so I’d say she’s open to most forms of advice.

        So…no, I don’t think saying “if you want out, you want out, but here are some support groups and things you might consider trying” is crazycakes. She’s “miserable” right now, but there’s room for Prudy to, say, bring in someone who has been through a partner’s transition and remained married, was at one point unhappy, and offer advice on how they overcame it.

        1. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable November 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

          To a certain extent, my love for my husband is rooted in his manhood. The more my husband transitions into becoming a woman, the less romantic love I feel for her.

          It’s this line in that letter that makes me think the LW is just het. If someone told me that I could try different kind of sex or intimacy (and I may be misreading you, but I assume you mean some kind of physical intimacy) with a woman just to give it a shot, regardless of how invested I am in her life, I’d start shouting f-bombs. But I guess it depends on how you read that part.

  28. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll November 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

    I really don’t get what’s so difficult about saying

    ” Look, if this is a deal breaker for you, then it’s a deal breaker and you are in fact allowed to leave”.

    People have all sorts of deal breakers. They’re all personal and as individual as the people themselves are. They don’t require justification. If something is a deal breaker, end the marriage. Just don’t be assy about it or set out to make it more painful than it is, don’t cheat and don’t try to make the other person be the one to end it because you’re behaving horribly. Leave with dignity, and allow them dignity while you’re leaving.

    How hard is that to say??

  29. Confused
    Confused November 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    If gender doesn’t matter though, why then must a transgendered person have surgery/drugs to physically conform to sex characteristics stereotypically identified with a certain gender?

    Something doesn’t add up. Either sex/gender is essential, or it isn’t.

    1. EG
      EG November 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

      Who on earth has claimed that gender doesn’t matter?

    2. tmc
      tmc November 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

      If you’re confused, there’s a whole wide internet out there for you where you can find these things out without shitting all over the trans folks who are reading this thread. Try that.

    3. suspect class
      suspect class November 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

      Fortunately we don’t *actually* have to justify ourselves to you, no matter how hard you troll.

    4. mxe354
      mxe354 November 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |

      Your JAQing off is getting very irksome very quickly.

  30. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm |

    But if your husband confesses to you he plans to start growing breasts

    Dear Prudie, my wife is anorexic.
    Prudie: Are her breasts getting smaller?

    Dear Prudie, my wife has been binge eating recently.
    Prudie: Are her breast getting bigger?

    Dear Prudie, my wife has cance–
    Prudie: OMFG is it breast cancer??

    Maybe we should be calling her “Dear Prurient Interest”. :p

    1. Jadey
      Jadey November 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

      Getting away from the main point here, but the phrase “growing breasts” always makes me think of someone with a little grow-op tucked away in their basement. You know, just a few “boob” plants, for recreational purposes only…

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm |

        If you are holding less than like, a few ounces of boobs it’s legal in Washington!

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm |

        By that count, should we arrest anyone who gives birth to a female for actually being a boob dealer?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

          Actually, probably the person providing sperm, given that they’re the ones who “decide”…

        2. tomek
          tomek November 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

          hmm? dod not know what sperm decide gender. this mean that cannot have female child via the introfertilisation?

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm |

          Once a female-bodied person hits puberty they should clearly be arrested for dealing boobs within 100 feet of a school!

        4. EG
          EG November 22, 2012 at 11:48 am |

          dod not know what sperm decide gender. this mean that cannot have female child via the introfertilisation?

          Yes. The sperm decides the XY/XX status of the baby. That has nothing to do with in-vitro fertilization.

      3. Andie
        Andie November 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

        Um. You still need sperm for IVF, if I’m not mistaken.

        1. tomek
          tomek November 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

          is such? i thought that in case where lesbian couple have introfertilisation they take egg and with electricity join

        2. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable November 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

          Hahahahah OMG can I keep him?

        3. Jadey
          Jadey November 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm |

          The Feministe Hilarious Troll Fairytale:

          Once upon a time, a fashion guy and a trucker guy went down the street and into the Mace, where they were taken and with electricity join.

          The End.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

          Oh, tomek. You’re a work of art ♥

          I’m now envisioning some lesbian Dr Frankenstein cooking eggs in a laboratory. IT’S ALIIIIIIIVE and all that.

        5. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |

          So mac, can we expect a happy announcement from you once “electricity join”? ;p

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm |

          *helpless giggles*

        7. EG
          EG November 22, 2012 at 11:49 am |

          i thought that in case where lesbian couple have introfertilisation they take egg and with electricity join

          You’re wrong. Look it up.

        8. suspect class
          suspect class November 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm |

          The Feministe Hilarious Troll Fairytale:

          Once upon a time, a fashion guy and a trucker guy went down the street and into the Mace, where they were taken and with electricity join.

          The End.

          I want this cross-stitched, please.

        9. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm |

          is such? i thought that in case where lesbian couple have introfertilisation they take egg and with electricity join

          Yeah, because science has totes figured out that asexual reproduction/cloning thing on a mass market level.

          Also, I’ve done 5 cycles of IVF myself. There was zero lesbian coupling involved and zero electricity involved. (Although it would probably been more fun if it had…)

          Tomek, go back to your basement and stop trolling for crying out loud.

        10. tomek
          tomek November 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

          sorry i thought this was which imf worked. i remember in child science was taught one can achieve two eggs and with electricity join and then grows into baby. the electricity is provided normal by sperm, but can be provided instead from wire of electricity.

          was used to form a sheep in north of england.

        11. shfree
          shfree November 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

          sorry i thought this was which imf worked. i remember in child science was taught one can achieve two eggs and with electricity join and then grows into baby. the electricity is provided normal by sperm, but can be provided instead from wire of electricity.

          Holy shit I would have loved to see what sort of “science” Tomek was being taught. Electrical sperm! Like microscopic electric eels! I would think it would be an easy indicator of whether or not a condom failed, because of all of the electrical zapping going on in the uterus. Owie.

        12. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

          Yes, that is precisely how the International Monetary Fund functions.

          Just in case you don’t get it, that was sarcasm I utilized above.

          Dolly the sheep was a product of genetic cloning. But she was a sheep, not a human being. The practice of cloning humans has yet to be achieved on a realistic or scientifically doable scale.

          Once again, you’ve come here and posted silly nonsense that is easily debunked after a 5 minute Google search. Knock it off, really, it’s annoying and trollish. I doubt that anyone takes you seriously as a result.

        13. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable November 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

          Aww Lolagirl. You beat me to the IMF pun.

        14. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm |

          Hey, Lolagirl, shfree, you guys have kids. Was the sperm… *plummy British announcer voice, eyebrow waggle* electrifying.

        15. trees
          trees November 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm |

          @tomek

          You gave me a belly chuckle with that last comment (shaking head); thanks for the ha ha.

          But if only you could use your imaginative powers for good. Your creative prowess is going to waste here; maybe you could take up screenwriting, drawing, or some such.

        16. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 25, 2012 at 10:24 am |

          Hey, Lolagirl, shfree, you guys have kids. Was the sperm… *plummy British announcer voice, eyebrow waggle* electrifying.

          Well, I was only in the room for the conception of one of my four kids. The sedation drugs they gave me during the IVF were pretty terrif, but I wouldn’t describe it as electrifying. Number four, I confess I don’t actually recall his conception at all (ducks head) but according to the spouse it was fab!

  31. konkonsn
    konkonsn November 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

    I don’t have much to add as most of my feelings have been expressed by other comments. I just want to add my support to trans persons reading this post and the comments and the shit you have to put up with daily.

  32. Comradde PhysioProffe
    Comradde PhysioProffe November 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |

    Dear Prudence is the absolute worst, and all of her relationship advice is filtered through extreme heteromonogamy prejudice. To be honest, I do read her columns, but only to enjoy an occasional little clean burst of rage at her heinousness.

  33. tmc
    tmc November 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm |

    I just realized that I was in situation that is similar to the LW’s, except that we’re happily married and it’s not something that was ever much of an issue between us. My husband is a non-binary trans person (though he leans heavily towards transfeminity), although for the first few years of our marriage I thought he* was a cis man (and he probably thought he was too, but I don’t know for sure).

    I guess I’m just putting it out there that a partner coming out as trans doesn’t have to doom a relationship or even really strain it. It surprised me, but that’s about it. We’re happier together now than we ever were before, mostly because he feels free to be more himself now than he ever was before. He’s still the person I married, even though it turns out that he’s not a man.

    I’m not going to pretend that I’ve never said any fucked-up cis shit. I have a lot of cissupremacist training that I’m trying to work my way through and unlearn. But when I do accidentally say something hurtful, he feels comfortable calling me out on it, and I apologize and then we work it out together.

    *He still uses male pronouns for now, as he hasn’t found a set of pronouns that he’s comfortable with yet.

    1. EG
      EG November 22, 2012 at 11:51 am |

      But when I do accidentally say something hurtful, he feels comfortable calling me out on it, and I apologize and then we work it out together.

      Honestly, I think that’s the best anybody in any kind of relationship can do or hope for.

  34. Marissa123
    Marissa123 November 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    I’m having such a hard time with her response. I think it was triggered especially but Prudie’s misgendering. But changing the material contract of the marriage? Wouldn’t the same argument then change if one partner gets into a disfiguring accident, has a surgery to remove a cancerous part of the body, or even gains or loses weight? What about hair style changes? I just think our society’s obsession with and creation of gender difference is absurd at best.

    I know I come to this from a different perception than most – being pansexual. Genital differences are minor and fulfilling sex can be figured out. I mean if she doesn’t love her wife, I guess they shouldn’t stay together, but Prudie could be a decent human being about it and not give a crappy-ass justification that probably reflects her own biases more than anything else.

    I wonder if Prudie would give the same advice to a husband who no longer loves his wife because she’s no longer a size 2 or who had to have a body part removed surgically. That’s certainly a material change to the contract….

    1. Marissa123
      Marissa123 November 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

      “Prudie doesn’t even suggest &^*% counseling, or more time than THREE MONTHS to let things shake out.”

      This. It seems like if it were a question that corresponded with social norms more, the mastectomy for instance, Prudie would have likely been a decent human being in her reply rather than relying on B.S. like “material” changes to the marriage contract. Prudie is flat hostile to trans issues at best.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 25, 2012 at 11:53 am |

        Are you even reading the same letter I am? The LW specifically says she’s ALREADY in counselling.

        Or maybe you’re just assuming that the LW hasn’t tried that either even though she says she has. It would fit in with your assumption that working through her sexuality is something that couldn’t possibly occur to her, the poor plebe that she is.

    2. tomek
      tomek November 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

      I know I come to this from a different perception than most – being pansexual.

      since maybe you panasexual not qualified to make judgement?

      with heterosexual they care is very much about gender. if was i with cisgirl who then discovered he was trans man, i decide i no longer want to be with. even if i still to him sexually attracted, that he thinks like man make me not want. you see?

      1. Marissa123
        Marissa123 November 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

        Uhh… I was already alluding to that by noting that I am pansexual. Thanks for pointing out the obvious – that I might have a different perspective than the letter writer. You know, what I already said.

        But this doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that I am “not qualified to make a judgement.” I can certainly point out discrimination and injustice when I see it, which characterizes Prudie’s response. She is _clearly_ responding out of bias and the evidence is in her rejection of proper pronouns (as if she somehow knows better) and that she didn’t request for a second that they even try to work it out through counseling. *rolls eyes* Please.

      2. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve November 24, 2012 at 6:35 am |

        since maybe you panasexual not qualified to make judgement?

        with heterosexual they care is very much about gender. if was i with cisgirl who then discovered he was trans man, i decide i no longer want to be with. even if i still to him sexually attracted, that he thinks like man make me not want. you see?

        I thought I was pansexual, until I realized it didn’t mean someone who loves fried foods.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |

        Oh, god. It’s happened. I agree with you. I have to go away and cry into a pillow.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 11:45 am |

      I know I come to this from a different perception than most – being pansexual.

      Then, seeing as you’re not monosexual, you probably don’t get it and shouldn’t be applying your experience to someone else, hm?

      Genital differences are minor and fulfilling sex can be figured out.

      How about someone who doesn’t want to figure out fulfilling sex with a gender they’re fundamentally unattracted to and couldn’t consensually fuck? What would you recommend? Closing her eyes and thinking of Britannia?

      I mean if she doesn’t love her wife, I guess they shouldn’t stay together

      LW in her second sentence:

      Then my husband, whom I love very much

      So, since she loves her wife, she doesn’t really have a reason to leave, according to you. So, she should be having creepy sex with a person of a gender she isn’t attracted to, whose gender presentation turns her off, and whose body might be undergoing changes that will only irreversibly reduce her attraction. Good to know! Sing it, you consent-positive person, you.

      Not to mention how traumatic it can be (for the LW’s wife) to have sex with someone who’s clearly Not Into Her. That should do wonders for her self-esteem.

      1. Marissa123
        Marissa123 November 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

        Just… wow…

        1. I was talking about my own sexuality. That’s not policing others. And with that I was lamenting social construction of gender along a binary. Again that’s not denying it exists, just that I’m sad about it.

        2. I never once said she needs to stay in the marriage. I even said if she doesn’t love her wife she shouldn’t stay.

        3. My argument was wielded against a bad-advice columnist who seems to exhibit neither knowledge nor even tolerance of trans issues. If anything I was advocating to consider a greater range of possibilities.

        Way for reading in between the lines to create things I never said.

        Also: “Then, seeing as you’re not monosexual, you probably don’t get it.”
        Wow, I’ve never had anyone discriminate against me and say my opinion doesn’t matter because of my non-normative sexuality. *sarcasm* You’re totally right, I am incapable of pointing out intolerance and Prudie is the icon of ideal acceptance, as evidenced by her supposedly knowing better and misgendering the wife. Obviously we should take her advice without question. *extreme sarcasm* Good job…

        Ok let me spell it out for you. I’m not advocating for non-consent and I don’t even begin to see how you got there. That would be a fucked up argument. Also pansexuality doesn’t mean I don’t have limits to who I will or won’t be with. I’m just pointing out rank intolerance in an advice column and want Prudie to offer a more nuanced and broader set of options with more basic consideration.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 6:33 pm |

          1. And I’m really sad about your complete inability to empathise with someone who isn’t quite as “evolved” as you. Come, weep with me!

          2. Except she DOES love her wife, you twit, she’s just not sexually attracted to her. Stop sliding past what the LW’s problem is.

          3. Then don’t go off on how gender is irrelevant (really? ask a trans person how irrelevant genitalia and gender are sometime), go off about how Prudie’s a clueless bigot. You’d get no pushback from me there.

          Wow, I’ve never had anyone discriminate against me and say my opinion doesn’t matter because of my non-normative sexuality.

          How lucky for you. Maybe you’ll take the learning experience to not condescend to straight people in the future.

          Also pansexuality doesn’t mean I don’t have limits to who I will or won’t be with.

          But have you tried alternative forms of sex and intimacy with these people? I mean, come on, give people a chance. Personality doesn’t matter; it can be worked around for really good sex!

    4. Jadey
      Jadey November 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm |

      Hey, Marissa!

      Also panssexual (for want of a better term) here. And I can tell you that this:

      I know I come to this from a different perception than most – being pansexual. Genital differences are minor and fulfilling sex can be figured out.

      Made me vomit in my mouth. What a repugnant thing to say to someone and very much minimizing of trans* people (for whom genital differences may not be very fucking minor, thanks) and also pansexual people, who don’t all take the simplistic “whatever, gender is a construct! it doesn’t matter to me”! approach.

      You strike me as someone who is very keen to talk about how progressive and understanding they are while being nothing of the sort.

    5. Valoniel
      Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

      You know, as much as I hate Prudie’s response, I think the material change to the marriage contract may actually be valid. (Not the ‘dead’ part – ew – just the change)

      People, throughout their lives, accept and internalise messages regarding gender and sexuality, filter them through their own experience, and use them to form their structure for relating to other people. A shift in gender presentation represents also a shift in the pycho-sexual relationship between the spouses. Like it or not, different people have different perceptions of attraction, power dynamics, and those strange little messages that we have regarding the physicality of our sexual bodies, and how that relates to the physicality of the sexual bodies of our partners.

      Now, I see that you’ve got a better end of that stick, being that you’re not monosexual, but some people really, really are. And even if they’re not, the fact is that perhaps a change in the physicality of their partner creates a fundamental enough shift in the dynamics of that particular relationship that the relationship becomes something that no longer feels right to one partner or the other. I think, given this, that such a basic shift in one of the most fundamental aspects of a romantic relationship can, in fact, be seen as a change to the marriage that the non-transitioning partner actually agreed to (regardless of Prudie’s hateful and insulting reduction of this change to ‘growing breasts’, UGH).

      Disfigurement is a poor analogy for this.

      This isn’t to say that I don’t think that these things can be successfully re-imagined and worked out. Obviously, they can in many situations. What I’m trying to say is that in some cases, they can’t, and that’s okay, too.

      Again, just for the sake of clarity: Yes, I think that the transition of a spouse is a huge deal, and possibly a deal breaker, particularly for a monosexual spouse. I do think that it’s valid to say that when a person has married X physicality, that a shift to Y physicality can make the marriage fundamentally different from the one to which said person consented, regardless of the fact that the transitioning partner is the same person they’ve always been. No, I do not think that it’s automatic, and I do not think that it’s remotely improbable that any given partnership can survive and thrive though transition, and I do think that it’s fair to ask that a non-transitioning partner give real, actual thought and consideration to the situation before making any huge decisions.

      (Just a note: I’ve resisted chiming in on this thread before now, because while I’m an ally, I don’t really feel that I’ve managed yet to get hold of the language in a firm enough fashion to avoid accidentally chewing on my foot. Hence, I hope I’ll be forgiven and gently informed if I’m making any mistakes.)

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca November 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

        I think, given this, that such a basic shift in one of the most fundamental aspects of a romantic relationship can, in fact, be seen as a change to the marriage that the non-transitioning partner actually agreed to

        I disagree with this. Very few people marry someone with the agreement of “I’m doing this because you’re cis” or “you can’t change your gender, OK?” Even if this is something that cis people would say if it occurred to them. . .the fact is it doesn’t occur to them, because they are privileged and are generally unaware of the nature of trans experience. We trans folks are not responsible for this ignorance on the part of cis people.

        Also, as gender dysphoria is generally regarded as a medical condition, getting the recommended treatment for it (which often results in radical physical changes) seems basically analogous to, say, losing one’s hair or losing one’s breasts during treatment for cancer. Such changes might cause the person without cancer to lose sexual interest in their partner and might result in a divorce, but the divorce would be because of the feelings of the partner without cancer. It would not be because the cancer survivor “materially changed the marriage contract.” Most marriage vows, in fact, specify that people will stay with their partners through sickness and through health.

        That said, we live in a modern society, of course, and I think no fault divorce is a clear social good. A person should be able to get a divorce for any reason they want. Loss of sexual attraction is a perfectly legitimate reason. But trying to shift some of responsibility from the LW to the transitioning partner for the breakup is, in my view, essentially advocating a form of the trans deception trope–call it the Deception Trope Lite. It’s the LW who is in the socially privileged position. It’s also her feelings that have changed, and she’s the only one responsible for her feelings. She is the one that wants a divorce, and she needs people who will encourage her to take personally responsibility for her feelings and decisions, not deflect responsibility on to her trans partner in a roundabout way by saying the trans partner materially changed the marriage.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm |

          Bzuh? LW specifically said she was attached to her wife’s “manhood”, and the loss of the accoutrements of male gender expression is what’s turning her off about her wife. I mean, if that isn’t a “I want to marry you because you’re X gender” I’m really not sure what is.

          Also, honestly? Seriously? Saying “I’m straight” is pretty much the same as saying “Don’t change your gender, OK?” IMO. I mean, when I say “I’m bisexual/pansexual” I am saying “Do not apply for relationships if a pangolin”. No pangolins accepted.

          While there are tons of people who reevaluate their sexuality when their partners come out, up and assuming someone’s going to change their sexuality for you is about as presumptuous as assuming someone’s always going to stay the same gender for you. And about as skeevy a thing to expect. (Note that I do not think LW’s wife expects this.)

          Also, as gender dysphoria is generally regarded as a medical condition, getting the recommended treatment for it (which often results in radical physical changes) seems basically analogous to, say, losing one’s hair or losing one’s breasts during treatment for cancer.

          Whut. Side-effects and symptoms are not the same as a cure. Chemotherapy is a cure for cancer, not cutting your hair off – if it were only that easy! If anything, physically transitioning would be a CURE not a symptom. So yeah, I reckon Marissa saying transitioning is like a disfigurement is pretty insulting. (Not saying you don’t get to define your own experience, and if you want to call transitioning akin to disfigurement, count me completely baffled but supportive. But I think you’re misreading why Valoniel’s saying the analogy’s offensive? She seemed to be suggesting that transitioning’s a cure and not a symptom, to me.)

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm |

          Ugh, a response in modhell AGAIN.

          Also wanted to add:

          But trying to shift some of responsibility from the LW to the transitioning partner for the breakup is, in my view, essentially advocating a form of the trans deception trope–call it the Deception Trope Lite.

          Uh, I didn’t read the comment that way at all? Unless, to carry your cancer analogy forward, Valoniel would also be “blaming” a cancer victim for getting a mastectomy that their spouse couldn’t handle? It seemed more like saying “too bad this necessary change pushed the other partner’s definition of the marriage to snapping.”

          And you know… how many couples sit down and discuss every single possibility in their life together before getting married? Infertility? Adoption? Polyamory? Incompatible orientations? Career changes? People become unexpectedly infertile (and then break up because they can’t agree on alternative parenting). People walk out of soul-crushing but well-paid careers (and break up because their partner expected the financial security). People get in car accidents, people get mentally ill, people wind up suddenly saddled with multiple sick relatives, people walk to the grocery store for Skittles and get shot by bigots. By your bizarro “well, if they didn’t actually sit down and have a talk about this then they didn’t care” logic, none of those things would be things that partners would ever break up over. And I think a trans person figuring out what’s up with them and needing to transition is about as completely faultless a situation as any of those.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm |

          Argh. Two comments in mod. Let’s see what happens to this one:

          Even if this is something that cis people would say if it occurred to them. . .the fact is it doesn’t occur to them, because they are privileged and are generally unaware of the nature of trans experience.

          But, um. Everyone on this thread has been pointing out that many trans folk don’t realise what’s going on with them for years, refuse to admit it because of transphobia or internalised transphobia or denial, or don’t have a “name” – or feel comfortable with the term – to describe what’s going on with them. So… what would asking DO? Aside from freak out/upset/hurt a trans person who’s now rightfully terrified that they’re about to get beat to shit for something that isn’t their fault, annoy the shit out of a cis person, and maybe in 1/100 cases produce a “thank fuck you asked, I’ve got something to tell you.”

          I simply don’t get what the “right” course of action is, as a (kinda)cis person open to dating trans people (the wife and I are open). Suppose I were dating someone and wanted to know if they were trans, would I be right to ask? Would I be right to wait to be told? Would I be right to present them with “I think this about you; reply y/n”? I honestly feel like there’s no right course of action, even though the absolute worst a trans person could face from me on coming out is “Oh, okay. Preferred name/pronoun plz?” I still don’t want to freak them out or terrify them.

          What do I do?

        4. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm |

          Also, as gender dysphoria is generally regarded as a medical condition, getting the recommended treatment for it (which often results in radical physical changes) seems basically analogous to, say, losing one’s hair or losing one’s breasts during treatment for cancer.

          What? No! A thousand times no! Please don’t go there; it doesn’t work as an analogy at all. The radical physical changes are, for many trans people — and certainly both for me and every trans woman I’ve ever known who transitioned medically — the entire goal and point of the treatment, because it’s those changes that relieve the physical aspects of one’s gender dysphoria. I seriously don’t think that losing one’s hair or having a mastectomy are the goal of cancer treatment; they are, for most people, an undesirable side effect of the cure, which is the elimination of cancer.

        5. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

          But trying to shift some of responsibility from the LW to the transitioning partner for the breakup is, in my view, essentially advocating a form of the trans deception trope–call it the Deception Trope Lite. It’s the LW who is in the socially privileged position. It’s also her feelings that have changed, and she’s the only one responsible for her feelings.

          A strong no to this too. Yes, trans people get blamed and held responsible for the break ups of their marriages/relationships. The solution is not to say that it’s the non-trans partner’s “responsibility” and put it on them. That achieves nothing, I think. The solution is to say it’s nobody’s fault. Stuff happens, and the goal should be to try to end things amicably when they have to end, without guilt, and without assigning “responsibility” — which usually amounts to assigning blame.

          And it’s too easy to respond to your argument by pointing out that the non-trans partner’s feelings concerning their identity didn’t change any more than the trans person’s did. You can’t privilege the importance to a given individual of their gender identity over the importance to another person of their sexual orientation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you cannot say that the non-trans partner is “responsible” for being unable to be something they aren’t (in terms of their sexuality), any more than you can hold the trans partner responsible for no longer being able to be, or present as or live as, something they aren’t (in terms of their sex and/or gender). In other words, you won’t get anywhere by using the language of “responsibility.”

          Also, be careful to take intersectionality into account in evaluating relative privilege. Of course the non-trans partner has social privilege as such over the trans partner in any divorce or breakup, leaving the trans partner open to all sorts of coercion and even blackmail — as well as the automatic sympathy of most other cis people — as I learned all too well myself. But there are also times when the trans partner has substantial economic privilege over the non-trans partner; perhaps more so among older couples. It can all be very complicated. In the end, though, it’s nobody’s fault.

        6. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

          Macavitykitsune, I don’t think LotusBecca is saying that it’s wrong for someone to break of with their partner if their partner transitions. Obviously sexual attraction is important for most people in marriage, and if that attraction is gone of course it makes sense for them to break up.

          But I can’t accept that there is some prior “Don’t change your gender”* agreement that a transitioning partner has broken, any more than a woman going through breast cancer has broken some kind of “Don’t get a mastectomy” agreement. I think like LotusBecca says it’s a situation most people don’t think will ever occur to them, and until it happens they don’t know how they’ll react to it.

          *And of course in many cases, including apparently in the case of the LW’s wife, the transgender person isn’t changing their gender at all. He or she is changing gender presentation to match their already existing gender identity.

        7. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm |

          Becca, I have two lengthy comments in moderation responding to what you said. I’m afraid that I very strongly disagree with some of it, and think that you’re making a serious mistake by continuing to pursue your analysis of relative “change” and “responsibility.”

        8. tomek
          tomek November 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm |

          i have question of gender expression and the gender identity. which of is the heterosexual and homosexual and etc attracted to? the the expression or identity? or is both? also if gender expression of one and gender identity is diferent is such a one is trans?

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm |

          But I can’t accept that there is some prior “Don’t change your gender”* agreement that a transitioning partner has broken, any more than a woman going through breast cancer has broken some kind of “Don’t get a mastectomy” agreement.

          Well… I could go the easy (snarky!) route of mentioning people who’ve married devout Christian Scientists, but to be more serious, I think you’re making a really strange argument here.

          I mean, what’s the consequence of breaking this agreement? A divorce. Which would be the consequence of a straight partner losing sexual interest anyway, wouldn’t it?

          The trans person might not have expected the “in sickness and in health” part to be broken (as in, their partner isn’t sticking around to see them work through their dysphoria to become healthy through transition); the non-trans person might not have expected the “do you take this man” part to have been broken.
          I don’t see why it’s got to be a big fuss; both people are breaking different parts of the agreement in transitioning and in not letting a malaise – a predictably curable-through-transition illness! – stand in the way of their marriage. I see both decisions as neutral ones; it’s just the matter of “hey, I did not expect that and I don’t like the result.”

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 12:20 am |

          And Jill, please don’t worry; I don’t hold you responsible for the modbot’s zeal! And weekends are slower, and fair enough imo. ^__^

        11. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 12:21 am |

          For God’s sake. The cancer analogy was AN ANALOGY. I’m not saying that they’re the same thing. Just like if I say the moon looks like a piece of cheese; I’m not saying the moon IS a piece of cheese. Damn. Give me some credit. I’m on HRT myself, and I intend to one day get SRS. I recognize that these changes are positive and are the whole point of medically transitioning.

          The point of my analogy was that marriage vows generally say that a spouse agrees to stay with their partner through “sickness or health.” A lot of people consider gender dysphoria to be a medical condition (a sickness). And curing gender dysphoria often produces physical changes. Curing cancer often does, too. My analogy was that a spouse might find the physical changes in both cases to be a major turn-off. So the changes might be somewhat analogous from the perspective of a turned-off spouse. Obviously, the changes are completely different from the perspective of the patient. To the cancer patient, the changes are probably a bad thing, whereas for the trans person, the changes are undoubtedly a good thing. Still, in both instances, the changes are the result of treating a medical condition–and therefore, they are NOT a material breach of the marriage contract. People DO generally agree to stay with their spouses through sickness and health. That would include sticking through a recovery process that changes someone’s physical appearance.

          Now the only reason I’m saying all this is to refute the idea of a “material breach” on the part of the trans partner. This is a legal term that implies (if I understand correctly) that the trans partner violated the marriage contract and that her cis partner could even potentially sue her for damages. I mean, come on. I’m sure we all agree that would not be fair. The trans partner did not make a material breach of the marriage contract.

          But what I’m not trying to do is argue against the LW getting a divorce. I couldn’t care less about the sanctity of marriage. I don’t hold marriage in any particular esteem, and I’m fine with people “breaking their vows.” I support no fault divorce. I’m just pointing out, to the extent that anyone is breaking the marriage contract, it’s the LW. I don’t have an ethical problem with her doing that, though.

          And Donna, I’m OK with using the language of responsibility here. If the trans partner was the one that wanted a divorce, then she would be the one responsible for the divorce. Since the cis partner is the one that wants the divorce, she is the one that’s responsible. That seems pretty clear to me. People are responsible for their choices. Again, I think it’s probably the best choice in a shitty situation. So I’m not condemning anyone here. But the cis partner should be aware that she IS making a choice, and that she does have (a rather shitty array of) options her. Her trans partner is in no way forcing anything on her or betraying her in this situation.

          Basically, SophiaBlue perfectly summed up what I was trying to say.

        12. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 12:58 am |

          Everyone on this thread has been pointing out that many trans folk don’t realise what’s going on with them for years, refuse to admit it because of transphobia or internalised transphobia or denial, or don’t have a “name” – or feel comfortable with the term – to describe what’s going on with them. So… what would asking DO?

          Mac, my point was that in a cissexist society, the common belief is that it’s the responsibility of trans people to make sure they don’t date or marry any cis person who might have a problem with their gender. And that’s BS. If someone is a cis person and doesn’t want to marry trans people, it’s on them to figure out a way to screen out trans people somehow. I believe that a cis person can only act like the trans person breached their marriage contract if they were like “I’m marrying you understanding that you are really the gender you say you are. If you tell me later that you’re transgender, I will view it as a material breach of our marriage contract and divorce you.” Of course, I’m not advocating people actually say this, and as you point out, it wouldn’t do any good anyway. I’m just pointing out that if the cis person doesn’t say this, the cis person can’t exactly deflect personal responsibility later on when they decide to divorce the trans person as ze is transitioning.

          I simply don’t get what the “right” course of action is, as a (kinda)cis person open to dating trans people (the wife and I are open).

          I’m not sure what’s motivating your questions in this paragraph. You’re open to dating trans people. . .so I don’t get the connection with a scenario where someone is not open to dating trans people. But in any event, I’ll try and answer your questions. I think if you want to know if someone you are dating is trans. . .the best thing to do is to show through your actions that you’re an staunch ally and supporter of trans people. If the person is trans and in denial, over time seeing this might actually be therapeutic for them and help them work through the denial. If they are just closeted, then they will probably eventually become comfortable enough to reveal their secret to you, given enough time, after they fully understand that you are a safe person.

        13. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 26, 2012 at 1:10 am |

          Honestly at this point I suspect we mostly agree and I’m just quibbling over semantics. I was interpreting breaking an agreement as something you do to a person, usually a bad thing, and the main point I was trying to make is that transitioning isn’t something a trans person is doing AT his or her partner, if that makes sense.
          But I see you point about both partners breaking the agreement, and I guess that is one way to look at it. Mostly I want to echo Donna that it’s a shitty situation that’s not either partner’s fault.

        14. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 26, 2012 at 1:11 am |

          Mac, I have a comment in moderation, the short version of which is that I think we mostly agree.

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 1:18 am |

          The cancer analogy was AN ANALOGY.

          Maybe pick one that doesn’t directly oppose your point next time? *still baffled*

          The point of my analogy was that marriage vows generally say that a spouse agrees to stay with their partner through “sickness or health.”

          Oh my god. Are you seriously quoting the Christian vows as the baseline in a multicultural forum for realz? I thought you were joking in your previous comment, but okay. Okay.

          In which case I should still point out that LW “took this man to be her lawfully wedded husband”, so by your weird ethnocentric “Christian vow wording=totes reality for all people everywhere” logic, the contract was void well before anyone said shit about sickness or health.

          I’ll just let all the married non-Christian transfolk out there know about that, then, shall I? Since it’s what’s going to determine their married lives from now on. Seems the polite thing to do.

          I’m just pointing out, to the extent that anyone is breaking the marriage contract, it’s the LW.

          Actually, they both are, as you pointed out. LW’s wife is not a man. LW is not staying until one of them is dead. This is not an either/or; they’re equally blameless and equally blamed, depending on which take you want to go with.

          So, while you’re paying constant lip service to the concept of a no-fault divorce…do you believe it, really? Because all this talk of “responsibility” is really painting quite the opposite picture and it’s getting my fucking hackles up. It’s disingenuous in the extreme to talk about responsibility or blame AT ALL when honestly, neither of them is responsible for the pickle they find themselves in. Neither of them is “responsible” for the fact that their marriage isn’t working and they weren’t telepathic to not get into it in the first place (I’m sure that if LW’s wife knew that transitioning would lose her LW, she’d have tried to find another partner). If I wanted to be really fucking ugly about it, I could say that LW’s wife is “responsible” for wanting to be her own gender; you’re being equally ugly by saying that LW is “responsible” for wanting to have her own sexual orientation, after all.

          But that’s transphobic bullshit and I don’t want to get into it. Would you please get out of your misogynistic bullshit? Thanks.

          …do you seriously not see how disgusting both those arguments are? And I’m sorry if I’m angry, but… you know how you’re empathising with LW’s wife (who, like you, is trans) because of the *possibility* that LW is actually angry at her but is lying about it? I’m empathising with LW (who, like me, faces tremendous pressure to change her sexuality for someone else) who is being *actually fucking told to change herself* by a bunch of people “around” me. And I’m really thinking that my actual gripe has a bit more traction here than your projected one.

        16. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 1:18 am |

          This is a legal term that implies (if I understand correctly) that the trans partner violated the marriage contract and that her cis partner could even potentially sue her for damages

          None of the language of contract breach is really transferable to the divorce context. I think people use the “material breach” analogy because in legal terms, a material breach of contract by one party excuses the other party from continued performance.

          In a divorce, you don’t get to sue for damages from breach of contract, and (now that all 50 states have no-fault divorce in one form or another), you don’t need a “breach,” material or otherwise, to escape “performance” of your end of the “bargain.”

        17. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 2:33 am |

          Comment in Modheim.

          …I find the fact that this is literally turning into the fundies’ straw argument of “what about people who’ll suddenly find themselves gay married even when they don’t want to be!!eleventy!” to be both disturbing and hilarious.

          Becca, do you not consider “I would not wish to be in a same-sex marriage, but I am” to be a breach of contract? I mean, fuck breasts and vows and whatnot. Does the fact that the LW entered into a perceived opposite-sex marriage and does not wish to be in a same-sex marriage mean literally nothing in terms of contract breaching?

          (Again, I consider both parties blameless and am not placing responsibility on anybody.)

        18. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 26, 2012 at 3:11 am |

          Does the fact that the LW entered into a perceived opposite-sex marriage and does not wish to be in a same-sex marriage mean literally nothing in terms of contract breaching?

          Ah, maybe I can restate my point here. I think now that you’re right that the contract has been breached, but my position is that the trans partner isn’t the one who breached it. To be clear, neither is the non-trans partner; if you’re going to blame someone I’d say the cissexist society that makes trans people hide and deny their identities is the one responsible for the breach of contract.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 11:39 am |

          Sophia, I don’t think we’re in disagreement at all! I pretty much view marriage as a contract, really – can you tell I have kinks and nerdery in me? – so I don’t see agreement-breaking as necessarily bad. I mean, cheating, abuse etc would be objectively bad, but a decision two partners can’t live with that one finds necessary? If anything, good, but definitely at least neutral. Some contracts need to be broken. And I’m perfectly happy to blame society for it!

        20. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 11:44 am |

          I’m just pointing out that if the cis person doesn’t say this, the cis person can’t exactly deflect personal responsibility later on when they decide to divorce the trans person as ze is transitioning.

          ASFKLHSDFGSHKLDG there is no responsibility. Not for the LW (would the wife have replied with the truth had LW asked before the wedding? Likely not since she was terrified and upset. So, you know, you can beak about personal responsibility all you want, it doesn’t change shit). Not for the LW’s wife (I mean, seriously, who’d blame her for being terrified and upset and not wanting to come out?). Nobody.

          You’re open to dating trans people. . .so I don’t get the connection with a scenario where someone is not open to dating trans people.

          I was trying to ask how to approach dating someone I think/suspect is trans, without scaring the shit out of them by accident. I guess I wasn’t clear. But you answered, and I think that makes sense.

        21. DouglasG
          DouglasG November 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm |

          [Becca, do you not consider “I would not wish to be in a same-sex marriage, but I am” to be a breach of contract? I mean, fuck breasts and vows and whatnot. Does the fact that the LW entered into a perceived opposite-sex marriage and does not wish to be in a same-sex marriage mean literally nothing in terms of contract breaching?

          (Again, I consider both parties blameless and am not placing responsibility on anybody.)]

          I definitely agree about both parties being blameless, and personally would almost certainly find the changed relationship to be what would make divorce the best option if it came to that. Though I have now deleted my dance card, it’s a plausible rewrite of the past to visualize mutual attraction with someone trans, and about equally plausible that I’d be about equally attracted to a fully transitioned partner with relative equanimity. But there is no flipping way I could cope with finding myself in an acknowledged opposite-sex relationship without extensive counseling and a major overhaul of my entire thought process. As Miss Brodie would say, “For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”

          Looking at the LW’s situation from the viewpoint of trying to help create an atmosphere as highly supportive and as little influential as possible for both partners, I’m inclined to agree with Donna about the concept of responsibility feeling not productive, which inclines me to take Ms Becca’s point about people being responsible for their choices as a piece of semantics. A plausible way to avoid guilt for being the party deemed “responsible” for the divorce might be to agree to remain married but to terminate sexual interaction in order to freeze the trans partner into seeking divorce. I’m sure we’d all prefer what would most help partners to treat each other with kindness and consideration.

        22. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

          A plausible way to avoid guilt for being the party deemed “responsible” for the divorce might be to agree to remain married but to terminate sexual interaction in order to freeze the trans partner into seeking divorce.

          This. Becca, does this seem like an acceptable alternative? Would you say that LW’s wife is “responsible” for the divorce if LW does this? Or would you be the first to call her a transphobic abusive asshole and that LW’s wife has no responsibility in the situation?

        23. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm |

          OK. I’m taking deep breaths. Mac, I have a response to you and Valoniel further down. It’s still in mod, although it might not be anymore by the time you read this. I laid some stuff out, most of which I still feel is valid. I also was very angry, though, and threw some rhetorical bombshells, used a lot of profanity, etc.. I’m feeling a lot calmer now. I want to really try and resolve this argument because I think you are all good folks. So I hope anything in my other response that seems overly hostile you will try to view in this context, if you can.

          First, I want to apologize for the whole “sickness and health” thing. Really, I know jackshit about marriage. I wasn’t thinking about how those are specifically Christian vows. But obviously, they are–and that would have been apparent to me if I really thought it all through. So it was foolish of me to assume that the LW had a Christian ceremony when most of the world isn’t Christian and even in my country of the US, only about 75% of the population is Christian. And it was even worse for me to act like everyone getting married would be saying those vows. Just shows my ignorance about marriage and about non-Christian traditions.

          Mac, I do really believe in no fault divorce. I completely believe in it–probably more than I believe in marriage, actually! So apart from the whole Christian-centrism of what I was doing, I really shouldn’t have been bringing up marriage vows in the first place. I think it’s fine to renegotiate contracts, fine to get divorces. I guess I was trying to play some “gotcha” game, saying that if one is going to start talking about material breaches of contracts (and implying that’s a bad thing), then, hey, the LW is breaching the contract, too! But I’d really much rather focus on the here and now and how moving forward with a divorce will probably benefit both parties in the long run. So everyone else who believe that’s the best thing to focus on; I agree with you. I should have made that clearer earlier.

          One place where I haven’t changed my mind, though, is on the issue of responsibility. Maybe it’s all irrelevant here, and just tied to various interests and hobby horses of mine. Regardless, I see myself as a philosophical existentialist; I think individuals have the freedom to make choices; and I think it’s important that people take responsibility for how they choose to live their lives. So yes, given this context, I do see the LW as responsible for the divorce, in the sense that she wants the divorce and will likely to the one to initiate it.

          I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But I guess I thought it was important to point out, given the context that cis people so often feel that they are victimized by trans people. When it comes to trans issues, cis people often feel like the only option they have is a knee jerk reflex rather than a considered choice. I’m thinking of, for example, the whole phenomenon of the “trans panic” defense, which transphobic straight men have used to try to get out of punishment for murdering trans women. The idea is, of course, the these men had NO CHOICE but to kill these women after they learned about their “deception.” This is just the most extreme example. . .it’s an idea that more subtly comes up again and again in cis people’s discourse about trans people. So while I think it’s the right choice for the LW to remain true to herself and to her feelings and to her sexual orientation, I just wish more people would recognize that other options are available to her (even if they are inferior options). Like companionate marriage, for example.

          If I wanted to be really fucking ugly about it, I could say that LW’s wife is “responsible” for wanting to be her own gender; you’re being equally ugly by saying that LW is “responsible” for wanting to have her own sexual orientation, after all. But that’s transphobic bullshit and I don’t want to get into it. Would you please get out of your misogynistic bullshit? Thanks.

          Hopefully some of where I’m coming from is becoming clearer, but I do want to address this. While I won’t lecture any trans person who feels differently, I definitely feel that in my case, transitioning is a choice. Yes, I AM responsible for wanting to be my own gender, actually. It’s pretty fucking empowering for me to admit that, to tell the truth. I didn’t choose to be born with the brain I was born with, which likely already had my female subconscious sex inscribed upon it, but as far as transitioning–that’s definitely a choice I’m making. Every time I put a hormone pill in my mouth, that’s a choice I’m reaffirming. Granted, it was getting to the point that my only options seemed to be suicide or transition. But I decided that I deserved a chance to actually live as the person I really am. I decided that all the hate and oppression in the world was not going to hold me back from what I wanted to do, from being honest and true to myself. It’s the most meaningful decision I ever made.

          This is the context is which I think the LW is responsible for getting a divorce if she chooses to get a divorce. But of course, there are also all sorts of sociological explanations and so on. So I suppose if she thinks she has no choice here and this is merely something circumstances are forcing her to do. . .well it’s her right to feel that.

      2. Valoniel
        Valoniel November 25, 2012 at 11:25 pm |

        But I can’t accept that there is some prior “Don’t change your gender”* agreement that a transitioning partner has broken, any more than a woman going through breast cancer has broken some kind of “Don’t get a mastectomy” agreement.

        Yeah…no. Look, if you’re in a relationship with a person that gets to the point where you all feel it’s a good idea to bind yourselves together legally and financially and all the other -allys that go along with tying the knot, I think that it’s entirely fucking fair for you both to assume that you know all the really big shit about each other. You know, like gender. Because here’s the deal: either the ‘deception’ meme is bullshit, in which case having some creepy-ass conversation about ‘don’t change your gender, k?’ is not valid, or the conversation IS required, in which case the whole world pretty much has to go about acting like trans people are acting in bad faith.

        Not to mention the fact that, as many have pointed out here, trans people are far more often than not either in denial about or completely unable to name what’s happening inside them. Which, basically, leaves us with the entirely reasonable extrapolation that any trans person who has had this conversation prior to marriage now just has one more sword dangling over their heads, telling them not to come out, not to transition, not to find a way to be who they are, under the explicitly implicit threat that such a conversation needs must create, that they will lose everything if they do. Because then, it becomes, in the mind of the non-transitioning partner, an actual lie, because ‘hey, we had this conversation’.

        I know which option is less creep-fucking-tastic to me.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 1:11 am |

          Sophia and I weren’t advocating that cis people should have a “don’t change your gender” conversation with their partners. We were pointing out that since hardly cis people do, they can’t act all betrayed when that’s what their trans partners decide to do. A person is responsible for articulating their own dealbreakers. If they don’t articulate them, and then those dealbreakers come to pass. . .well, that’s too bad, but it’s in no way their partner’s fault. Nobody changed up any sort of contract on them.

        2. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue November 26, 2012 at 1:19 am |

          OK, to be clear, I am absolutely NOT advocating for gross “Don’t ever change gender” conversations. My main point was that it’s unfair to say the trans partner is the one responsible for the marriage contract being altered.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 11:35 am |

          We were pointing out that since hardly cis people do, they can’t act all betrayed when that’s what their trans partners decide to do.

          And when cis people ask trans people if they’re trans, the response is often “I don’t know” (not knowing/articulating/precisely being sure) or “no” (in denial, terrified, upset). As you yourself pointed out on this thread, multiple times.

          So, you’re back to recommending assuming bad faith from transfolk, then? Because recommending that an openly straight cis person should assume this: “everyone is trans and lying about it, so that’s why I should state this dealbreaker” well. Wow. Wow, that’s… special. That’s really, really special.

          So no matter what, if I were cis and not open to dating trans people (neither of these things is irl true), it would be my fault. For asking if they’re trans (yay I’m a creepy asshole!), or for pushing on whether they’re trans if they say no (yay I’m promoting the deception meme!), or for being upset when they come out (yay I’m a transphobe for not articulating dealbreakers my identification as straight should have made obvious!), or leaving if they’re trans (yay I’m secretly transphobic for not changing my sexuality FOR YOUUUUU!). All my “responsibility”. Got it.

          Holy shit, your cognitive dissonance.

        4. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

          Sophia and I weren’t advocating that cis people should have a “don’t change your gender” conversation with their partners.

          No, but that’s the material take-away from what you’ve said. If there’s no ‘don’t change your gender’ agreement, then there’s obviously no agreement to break, right? But if that conversation isn’t had, then, since ‘responsibility’ for the repercussions of that change just HAVE to fall somewhere, it HAS to be on the non-transitioning partner? (For the record, once again, because people seem to keep missing it: I don’t think this is a ‘responsibility’ situation, I’m simply reacting that line of thought.) Seriously, I’m here advocating for the attack of useless straw men in these arguments, and you’re busily erecting one. I don’t get it.

          It’s like the ‘gay is a choice’ argument, really. I’m standing here, saying that even if that was true, it wouldn’t make any difference, and you keep going back to ‘but it isn’t a choice’, and getting angry with me for not thinking that’s all there is to the argument.

          As I said downthread, there’s a difference between choosing not to accept a faulty line of attack, and believing that the thing being attacked has any useful application.

          I have a fundamental issue with refusing to see what one doesn’t wish to see because reasons.

        5. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm |

          Becca, another reply to you is in mod.

          since hardly cis people do, they can’t act all betrayed when that’s what their trans partners decide to do. A person is responsible for articulating their own dealbreakers. If they don’t articulate them, and then those dealbreakers come to pass. . .well, that’s too bad, but it’s in no way their partner’s fault. Nobody changed up any sort of contract on them.

          I simply can’t believe that you’re seriously arguing that a person doesn’t have a right to believe the presentation they’ve been given of the their marriage partner, and the casual erasure of presented self and the bearing that has on the decision to enter into that marriage. I just…wow.

          As to the placing of ‘responsibility’ for marital breakdown in the face of transition, and your seeming assertion that one can’t take fault from the shoulders of the transitioning partner without necessarily putting it on the shoulders of the non-transitioning partner, the only thing I can say is that I think it’s illogical, unreasonable, and irresponsible.

          I think I’m about done banging my head against your wall o’ defensiveness.

        6. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

          Wow. I think I’m beginning to really lose my patience with this. Mac and Valoniel. . .my entire life people just ASSUMED I was a man. ASSUMED I was cissexual (not that they’d ever even heard that word). “Do you feel like a woman?” “Do you think you might be transgender?” “Are you a male or female?” “Do you WANT to be male or female?” For 27 years prior to my transition, these are questions that I was NEVER asked. Not once. By anyone. In any situation. THAT’S why I was in denial. THAT’S why I thought I must be crazy. How else could I deal with the fact that I felt something so strongly that not only was no one else able to see, do no one else even considered to be remotely possible?

          So yeah. Someone bringing up the possibility that I might not have been a man, even one fucking person, even in the context of a simple question, might have actually been kinda nice. But there’s something called cissexual assumption. 99% of cis people assume everyone they meet is cis. So they don’t have to ask. They don’t have to talk about it. And it’s not because they are being polite or are worried about prying into the privacy of closeted trans people. It’s because they don’t really believe trans people exist, or if we exist we must all look like John Lithgow in The World According to Garp.

          And Mac, please stop saying that I’m advocating the Trans Deception Trope. Seriously. I’m aware I’m getting heated here but–how dare you. I think I’ve been hurt enough by that trope personally (how much have you by that trope personally?) to not fucking advocate it. TRANS. PEOPLE. DO. NOT. LIE. ABOUT. THEIR. GENDER. OK? That’s what I believe. What I’m saying is that cis people are responsible for their own fucking lives and their own fucking actions, just the same as trans people are. You’re cis and assume someone else is cis even if you’ve never asked them and they never even said they identified with their assigned gender? OK. That’s on you. You are no longer attracted to the person who you married and so decide to get a divorce? OK. Also on you. Cis people don’t magically lose the ability to chose what to do in their lives once they start interacting with trans people.

          I AM NOT ADVOCATING ANYONE CHANGE THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. I FULLY SUPPORT THE LW IN HER DECISION TO GET A DIVORCE. But what the fuck is so bad about saying. . .if you are the one unhappy in the marriage. . .if you are the one who wants a divorce. . .if you are the one who initiates the divorce proceedings. . .YOU ARE THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DIVORCE. Why is it that cis people can’t own up to the fact that they are making a choice in these situations?

          I own up to my choices. I may not have chosen to be trans, but I AM choosing to transition. Every time I take a hormone pill it’s a choice. Every time I introduce myself to a new person using my preferred name “Becca” it’s a choice. It’s a choice that many people (usually prejudiced people) don’t like. I have to own the fact that I’m choosing to do something that’s bothering these people. I have to own the fact I’m choosing to do something that makes me 16 times more likely to be murdered. And I do take responsibility for my choices. Because believe it or not, no matter how fucking horrible it is to be trans in a cissexist society, transitioning is still the right choice. Because anything is better than hating your own body, being miserable your whole life, living a lie, and being invisible to everyone you knows you.

          Now why was it that the LW can’t take responsibility for choosing to get a divorce, again?

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm |

          Becca. …jesus fuck. Okay. I’m seeing a massive disconnect in what I’m saying and what you’re saying. I need you to clarify something for me:

          Do you view “responsibility” as value neutral? Whereas “fault” is value negative?

          Because if you do then we’re actually agreeing on everything but semantics. Holy fuck I can’t believe I didn’t see it before now.

        8. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

          OK, I think I see what Becca is saying too. I was uncomfortable, as I said before, with using a term like “responsibility,” because so often it’s used as kind of a polite way of saying “it’s their fault, not mine.” I really have no issue at all with the word to the extent that it’s being used in a way that’s value-neutral. I don’t think that was clear until now. Which is why a word like “choice” might be better, except that for trans people that has very negative implications as well!

        9. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

          Yes, I see it now too (short version of comment that went to moderation)

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

          For 27 years prior to my transition, these are questions that I was NEVER asked. Not once. By anyone. In any situation. THAT’S why I was in denial. THAT’S why I thought I must be crazy.

          This is actually really interesting and thought-provoking. I mean, I always knew I wasn’t oriented towards men; I kind of figured that meant I was asexual, before figuring out GIRLS HOSHIT. But I never needed anyone to tell me I wasn’t straight to figure it out… I guess different people experience non-heteronormative-cisness differently?

          Either way, it’s a thing to chew over. I think I’ll look up some stuff on poking at others’ gender. Though honestly, with my small friends circle, there literally is a single person I haven’t already had the “so what’s your gender dealie?” talk with – and I’ve had some interesting answers, lol. No one trans that I know of, but a whole bunch of genderqueeredness. I guess I just don’t feel comfortable asking people, unless my weird visual perception fail kicks in (I also frequently have to ask embarrassing questions like “uh, your expression says angry, but your voice doesn’t and I’m really confused” or “Okay, I’m almost sure you’re my friend who got a dye job, but five minutes of conversation haven’t helped, so I need you to ID yourself plz”). And no matter what insinuations you make, um, in my case at least it’s pretty much not wanting to scare a trans person/piss off a bigoted cis person (and I have enough issues being brown and non-straight in Alberta that I’m not taking that risk with people I don’t know, thank you very much).

        11. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm |

          Yay!! I’m just so happy that you see better now where I’m coming from, Mac and Donna. I’m actually giggling and grinning ear-to-ear because SHIT has this discussion been stressful. You said earlier Mac that you didn’t like arguing with me; well I don’t like arguing with you either. It sucks. :-(

          But yeah. I view “responsibility” as value neutral and “fault” as value negative. And it’s partially my own fault (lol) for creating this misunderstanding by bringing the whole idea of violating marriage vows into the discussion. It was a misstep to do that. I explain more about that, as well as apologizing for my Christian-centrism, in a post currently in mod that’s about 10 posts up for here.

          Yay!! Glad if we’re going to become friends again. :-)

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 11:13 pm |

          OK, I think I see what Becca is saying too. I was uncomfortable, as I said before, with using a term like “responsibility,” because so often it’s used as kind of a polite way of saying “it’s their fault, not mine.”

          This this this this. It called up about sixty different memories of victim-blaming – I DO consider LW an innocent victim of fucking society and its fucking shit that makes trans people have to hide and nobody’s going to talk me out of that – and I have a massive rage-button around it. and I honestly never stopped to consider we might be having a difference of words. (It’s kind of like how I had to specifically tell the wife that my sdjlghsdgjhsdg when she says “no smoke without fire” has nothing to do with her actual statement and everything to do with THAT FUCKING PHRASE AGAIN I WANT TO SMASH THINGS.) I tend to assume bad faith from people talking about responsibility because they’re usually using it to mean fault.

          Yay! Issue sorted! Nobody is at fault, everyone has responsibility for their own feelings/actions and that is a good thing. Okie. I’d still personally go with “reaction” (since, y’know, LWife wouldn’t have been closeted but for cis crap, LW wouldn’t be in this pickle if not for cis crap, both of them are reacting to it) but you know, whatever, if I can stop yelling at my friends on the internet it is a good day and I am going to take it as such.

          So, friends again?

          I also read your post that finally got out of mod, and okay, I think I see where you’re coming from better on this, now. And apology accepted and please, accept mine in return. I got really angry and defensive and nasty, and I should have given you the benefit of the doubt and asked you to define responsibility way before this.

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm |

          Mod. Naturally. *resigned sigh* tl;dr I get it, Becca, sorry, friends? ^__^

          I did want to address this though:

          I just wish more people would recognize that other options are available to her (even if they are inferior options). Like companionate marriage, for example.

          See, I… think that would suck very, very, very fucking hard for LWife, even more than LW. I mean…she’s finally getting the body and expressed self that she can be happy in; she doesn’t deserve to be saddled with a marriage that doesn’t celebrate her body, with a spouse who can’t even really tolerate it. Especially if they’re monogamous, or LWife has Issues around cheating (I physically don’t think I could; the idea nauseates me; and I’m in an open relationship, ffs). I think LW suggesting a companionate marriage – all of the intimacy, none of the actual acceptance! – would be a terrible thing to do. A close friendship without “marriage” baggage would be way healthier. Particularly since LWife’s likely in a bad enough place emotionally that she’d agree to companionate marriage just to feel safe, then wind up becoming You Horrible Dumper, After All She Did For You to their entire social circle when she lost her mind and wanted someone to actually like her for a change. It’s a common enough story even without the “trans angle” for people to get on their high horses about.

        14. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 11:25 pm |

          And no matter what insinuations you make, um, in my case at least it’s pretty much not wanting to scare a trans person/piss off a bigoted cis person

          I know that. I wasn’t trying to argue against the fact that this is your motivation. I’m just arguing against the idea that this is the motivation for a very many people. Most cis people assume everyone else is cis simply because it never even occurs to them that someone might be trans. So I wasn’t trying to say I think you have some personal responsibility to poke at people’s gender (although I like it when spaces are set up so that it’s standard practice to ask for people’s preferred pronouns at the start of a meeting/group activity). I was just explaining how cis people as a whole are actually COLLECTIVELY RESPONSIBLE for why so many trans people are confused and ashamed about their gender, not just because of outright harassment and discrimination, but because of entrenched practices like cissexual assumption. It’s part of my broader point that cis people are responsible for a lot more things when it comes to trans issues than they realize.

      3. Valoniel
        Valoniel November 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm |

        Basically, what I was saying here was to the validity of the statement that the marriage contract has been altered, and what I read as the erasure of a non-transitioning partner’s right to feel that.

        This is not the same as speaking to the value of the statement.

        Summary: I feel that the statement is correct in terms of fact. I do not feel that the statement is valuable in terms of application to…well, life. I can’t currently imagine a situation in which pointing this out would be remotely helpful to anyone.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 1:06 am |

          Well if it’s not helpful to point it out, then stop pointing it out. A material breach of contract is a legal violation of a contract. It’s not just a feeling that someone is “no longer the man I married.” Trans people are not deceptive and transitioning is not breaching any contract. End of story.

        2. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 26, 2012 at 11:57 am |

          Yeah…I’m not pointing out the answer, so much as the idea that the answer isn’t, in its facts, bullshit. Simple fact is, like it or not, it’s valid in itself. I was simply trying to clear up the fact that I was making a distinction between validity and value in defending it in its facts.

          And you know, I think that in the case of fault-requiring divorce laws, the change in physical gender presentation of one spouse would have made the grade.

          For the love of kittens, please stop sailing past my point in order to assuage your anger at someone else. The fact that I can argue the technical validity of a thing doesn’t necessarily mean that I believe that thing has any real application, ffs. Particularly given that I’ve said repeatedly that I do not believe that it does, and part of my point was, ‘hey, sure, that’s true as far as it goes, but it really wasn’t a thing that needed saying.’

          I do, however, have a long-standing issue with attacking things on weird levels and expecting everyone to nod along, like it makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to attack the technicality of the statement, when the real argument is in that IT DOESN’T MATTER if it’s valid or not.

          I have an issue with the fact that Prudie felt that the LW needed a get-out-of-jail-free card, rather than the wording on the card itself.

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm |

          And you know, I think that in the case of fault-requiring divorce laws, the change in physical gender presentation of one spouse would have made the grade.

          Trans people are not at “fault” for choosing to transition. Transition is the best fucking choice anyone can make. Please stop spewing your unexamined privilege here. Longer response to y’all is in mod.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

          Trans people are not at “fault” for choosing to transition. Transition is the best fucking choice anyone can make.

          I…don’t get where Valoniel was disagreeing with either of those statements?

          Also “Fault” is a freakin’ legal term. A polyamorous person can be held to fault for adultery even if the spouse agreed to let them be poly. A person who quit their job can be held to fault for straitened financial circumstances even if the spouse was egging them to all along. Hell, a person who moved overseas to get a job to support their wife can get dumped for abandonment – I’ve seen it happen in India (where there’s no no-fault divorce in most states).

        5. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

          Trans people are not at “fault” for choosing to transition.

          Well, if that’s what you want to take from that, can’t stop you, but your misconception of what I’ve said is your responsibility, not mine.

          As I said before, I don’t think that engaging you further is going to change anything, and I’d rather not be misread any further. You’re not hearing what I’m actually saying, you don’t wish to, and I don’t wish to enable that.

    6. DonnaL
      DonnaL November 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

      Genital differences are minor

      Really? Are you sure you’re such an expert on trans issues?

      1. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

        I see nothing’s changed — I get back from a couple of days out of town, and my comments are still all going straight into moderation!

        1. EG
          EG November 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm |

          I’m glad you’re back, though.

  35. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm |

    Okay, you know what? I’m seeing a lot of comments here that make me really, really, really uncomfortable. Things like people saying
    “gender shouldn’t matter with your partners”.

    And if I get yelled at, so fucking be it, and maybe I’m just, you know, oversensitive crazy third-worlder patriarchy-surviving chick, but I find the idea of this statement being applied to women, any women at all, giving me the willies on an epic scale.

    I mean, FUCK. It’s not like us non-straight women spent millennia being told “gender shouldn’t matter, so open your legs for that guy we picked you and just shut up” or anything. It’s not like this “gender doesn’t matter if you’re a woman” shit is being used to tell my 11yo stepdaughter through pop media and fucking Katie Perry that she can kiss a girl as long as her boyfriend’s okay, right? Or to tell my college-age friends that their friends can coerce them into sexual contact with people they’re not attracted to, because “girls making out is sexy”. Or the way men approach my wife and I for the threesomes that they KNOW we MUST be dying to have with them, because obviously women can’t just want to curl up with the gender of their choice and have a quiet existence on the internet or anything. Lol. Or not.

    Why, why, WHY are we supposedly pro-consent women on this site turning around and telling a straight woman the same thing just because their partners are trans? It’s horrible. And frankly erases the trans person’s identity IMO. Seriously, think about this before replying to me. It’s skeevy. It’s misogynistic.

    Please, please, fucking pretty please, will you stop?

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 5:12 am |

      I hope everyone is in agreement here that no woman should be pressured to have sexual or physical contact with another person if she doesn’t want to. And that no woman should have to stay in a marriage if she’s unhappy with it, and that she should be able to get a divorce at any time without being guilt-tripped or shamed. Those seem like pretty basic feminist principles to me, at least. And I personally haven’t interpreted anything that anyone has been saying here as speaking out against those principles, either.

      But what some women seem to me to be saying here, women like tmc and Marissa123, is that gender is not particularly important TO THEM in determining who they are attracted to or who they would stay married to. And yes, for plenty of women, gender just doesn’t matter that much in regards to our partners. Such women might identify our orientation as bisexual, pansexual, queer, or with no label at all. I think it should be obvious that those orientations are just as legitimate as the orientation of a straight woman, a lesbian, or someone who in some other way highly weighs gender when deciding on her partners.

      And I do think it’s horrible when women who are not attracted to men are pressured into having relations with men. This has a long and atrocious history in our patriarchal society, as you point out, Mac. That’s so fucking wrong and terrible that guys are always harassing you and your wife, thinking you’re open to having a threesome with them. What creeps.

      One thing I’d like to mention, though, is that if a person believes they’re not straight, well, they’re almost certainly not straight. . .but if a person believes they’re straight, well they might be straight. . .but they also might not be. Most of my life, I believed I was straight, for example. Turns out I’m not. In our society, people are pressured into thinking they’re straight, and therefore many queer people start out thinking they’re straight (as I’m sure you know). So I actually think it’s in the self-interest of people who believe they are straight to remain open to the possibility that they might not actually be straight. Although in the final analysis, it’s their life and their call.

      So taking this all into account, I think it’s in the self-interest of straight women (and also straight men) to really consider the possibility that they might not be straight if their “heterosexual” partner comes out to them as trans. The fact is, the straight person was attracted to someone who was never of the “opposite sex” to begin with, even though they weren’t aware of this at first. And perhaps their attraction really was merely derived from a fundamental misperception on their part, but perhaps their attraction was also partially derived from a subconscious awareness of who their partner actually was. And in fact, some “straight” people do modify their conception of their sexual orientation as a result of these situations, and do stay with their trans partners, even though most do not. So I don’t think it’s oppressive or anti-consent to inform straight people of these possibilities.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |

        Becca, I really think you’re giving some people way too much benefit of the doubt. Like I said, I got defensive upthread because there’s been skeeviness, and I assumed you were joining it. But.

        a) LW has written in *after* making the kinds of self-analyses you recommend. She’s tried the work, she’s tried the sticking it through, and fuck, i mean, it’s pretty obvious she loves her wife, so if she were at all able she probably wouldn’t be writing in to Prudie at all. I don’t think the “needs to self-examine” applies here, though, hey, I do, I definitely do agree with you in other cases. It’s when it’s just being pasted on an obviously incompatibly-oriented person – who is openminded and has enormous motivation to try to be compatible – that it starts to get skeevy.

        b) I have in fact noticed people (none of whom are trans themselves, a thing that I think is telling) going “well she should have explored other kinds of sex and intimacy” or “well, gender only matters because THE PATRIARCHY”. I had a pissy about this ever since I read the OP, but I didn’t want to get yelled at (was fairly sure I wouldn’t be able to phrase this in a way that could communicate my thought correctly). Took me a day and change to do that.

        c) Again, I’m really not against informing people of possibilities – when those possibilities haven’t been explored. The parts of this thread that I’m talking about feel like LW went “I can’t do X, what do I do about Y?” “Try X.” “But I have and I can’t!” “Try X harder!” It’s not really useful and it’s pretty damaging. I mean, do people here think she’s not beating herself up for not being able to be attracted to the person she loves?

        I don’t know. It’s just…a weirdly misogynistic trend in responses that makes me really uncomfortable when the subjects (LW, her wife) are both women.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |

          OK Mac. . .well I’m starting to see your point a lot better, and I think I pretty much agree with it. I think part of where I was coming from earlier is that I immediately identified with the trans woman in this incident and felt suspicious toward the LW. Because I’m generally suspicious of cis people in relation to trans* topics until they prove me wrong. Based off personal experience, I’ve learned I can’t take what they say at face value. So even though the LW sounds like a relatively nice person. . .for all I know the truth could be that she’s completely enraged and disgusted by her trans partner and just trying to appear supportive in order to look good as she extricates herself as quickly as possible. I know people who have done this to their trans partners. So I don’t feel that the LW is necessarily an ally. I would not be happy if anyone referred to me as “he” in any situation, as the LW referred to her wife twice. It wouldn’t matter to me if they were talking about the past or talking about their mental conception of me. Just. . .you know. . .rewrite your sentence or something to avoid “he.” Also, saying “transgendered” instead of “transgender.” Also, saying “I have friends from x marginalized group.” I thought everyone was aware that people say such things so often that they are basically meaningless, and even the most outrageous bigots will utter such sentences.

          So anyway. . .I’m defintley not saying the LW is a bad person. And I actually believe it’s likely she truly feels deep love for her spouse and is trying to do her best by her spouse. But cis people have a occasional habit of lying (maybe the trans deception trope is psychological projection?) when it comes to trans issues. So I remain slightly skeptical about the LW, is all. And so I guess I wasn’t even really thinking about people saying stuff to her that would be stepping on her rights. After all, she’s the one in the position of power here. But you’re right. . .if she wants to get a divorce she should get a divorce. And no longer being sexually attracted to your partner is a perfectly valid reason to get a divorce, and I don’t think anyone should pat the LW on the head and tell her otherwise.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

          Becca, I totally get why you’re suspicious of the LW, and I guess I would be in your situation too (fuck knows I side-eye the straight spouses of bi people sometimes!) because of the power differential. But, like I said, I never thought you (or tmc) were arguing for her changing her orientation. Honestly, I don’t know. LW could hate her wife. LW could love her wife. LW could be a 14yo troll on a library computer (hi, tomek!) trying to stir up transphobic wank. All I have to go on is what she says, and what she says doesn’t sound like she’s not an ally. Maybe not a perfect one, but eh, who is? (I mean, seriously, who is? I’ve known tons of gay “allies” who turn on us at a moment’s notice – see also all the homophobic wank here.)

          I guess I’m just really sensitive to erasure of sexuality. particularly when people are massively misreading the LW – I’ve seen a dozen comments berating Prudie for not suggesting the counselling LW is already in, attributing things Prudie said to the LW, etc, etc. This isn’t a good-faith argument on the LW’s behalf; it’s defending the actual words of a person vs a whole bunch of people being creepily invested in telling her her sexuality isn’t what she says it is.

          I’m glad we’re agreeing, though. I don’t like disagreeing with you. ^__^

      2. Andie
        Andie November 24, 2012 at 10:27 am |

        I can kind of get on board with this. I’ve identified as straight all my life, with only a minimal attraction to women. It has occurred to me that the possibility exists that the only reason I consider myself straight is because my sexual history has been 100% heterosexual and I’ve not experienced the desire or opportunity for anything otherwise. I’m aware of this to the point where I have on occasion referred to myself as ‘straight-to-date’

        But if I were dating someone who revealed to me they were a trans woman, I’d have some serious unpacking to do because I assume I’d still love and care for this person and care deeply for this person and I’d feel like I owed it to myself and this person whom I love to explore the possibility that maybe I am more open to women than I’d previously thought. That maybe my feelings for this hypothetical person would over-ride my assumed heterosexuality.

        However, I would not apply this same reasoning to anyone who is not-straight identified because reasonably I think they have already unpacked their own sexual indent it’s as far as what they would be open to, so in regards to what Mac said, she’s already done the unpacking as far as her sexual identity goes, so in her case it would be pretty insulting to go “how do you know until you try it?”

        In the context of the letter writer, I think out of love and respect for her wife she would probably like to be open to her sexually, but is concerned and sad because she can already feel herself pulling away from her wife, physically.

      3. tmc
        tmc November 24, 2012 at 10:49 am |

        But what some women seem to me to be saying here, women like tmc and Marissa123, is that gender is not particularly important TO THEM in determining who they are attracted to or who they would stay married to.

        Yes. I know for a lot of people, gender is a huge deal and a dealbreaker, which is fine for them. I just wanted to offer another side of the story, that it doesn’t always have to be terrible when a partner comes out as trans. For us it was wonderful. My husband was miserable while he was closeted, and he absolutely hated himself, and I had no idea why and it put an awful strain on our relationship because I couldn’t understand why, despite the fact that we were living pretty comfortably, he was so damned unhappy. When he realized that he was trans, none of that went away instantly, but it got tremendously better, and as he figures himself out more and more, he loves himself more and more, and we’ve been happier and more stable as a family.

        Last year we were on the brink of divorce because I couldn’t take any more of his constant anger (anger that didn’t seem to have ANY actual source). I actually did tell him that it was over and started trying to figure out how to unwrap our lives from each other – and was prepared to fight tooth and nail for custody of our daughter. But we worked through it, and part of working through it involved him figuring out that he was neither cis nor straight.

        So for me, the situation was a little different. I could not stay with my husband as he was before he realized that he was trans; back then he was then was angry, unstable, unpredictable, and self-loathing to a degree I just could not understand. But now that he recognizes that he’s just plain not a cis dude, and that there’s nothing wrong with him, but rather plenty wrong with our cis-supremacist society, we are happier now than we’ve ever been in the past 7 years we’ve been together.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

          Yeah, see, I’d call you a success story, but you weren’t one of the people being skeevy on the thread anyway IMO! And I have no idea where Becca got the idea that I was pushing back against you; I must not have written my comment clearly enough.

          I’d have been pretty taken aback if you were one of the skeevy ones, because you’ve always been really on point when it comes to gender/sexuality issues.

        2. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

          This made my heart happy.

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

          Yay!! I’m really glad things are working out for y’all, tmc.

      4. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 11:07 am |

        Ugh, previous response in modhell.

        And I do think it’s horrible when women who are not attracted to men are pressured into having relations with men.

        It’s not about women who are not attracted to men being pressured into sleeping with men. It’s about women who are not attracted to (X gender) being pressured into staying with (X gender). It’s not less skeevy because LW’s partner is a woman. I mean….basic empathy, yo. “I will not have my orientation lolredefined” is not a statement that gay people get to make but straight people don’t; it’s a basic human right.

        Again, this is about this particular case, this particular woman.

        1. Li
          Li November 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

          I understand what you’re saying mac, and I largely agree with it, but I do think it’s important when giving advice to the partners of people beginning to transition to talk about the fact that they may experience an alteration to their sexual orientation. Not because they *should*, but because they *might*, whether or not they are particularly interested in it happening.

          I know a couple of people, both men and women, who previously ID’d as having a monosexual orientation and who found that as their partners transitioned that they continued to find them sexually attractive or even that they began to experience broader attraction to people of genders other than the one they’d previously been attracted to. That’s fairly obviously not everyone’s experience, but it does happen, and not infrequently.

          I’m super wary of any attempts to turn that descriptive truth into a normative one, for all of the reasons you have outlined, but it is a common enough experience amongst the partners of transitioning people, and an obvious emotionally significant one for people invested in their own sexuality, that I do think it needs to be mentioned in any really full advice to a partner, even if they don’t expect it to happen to them.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm |

          Li, I totally agree with you and I would be the first to advise a person who came to me with “well, my spouse told me last night that they’re trans, what the fuck do I do????” to stick with them and see what comes of it.

          BUT. LW clearly intended to do that. LW clearly tried to do that. So to tell her to go right back and keep trying harder really *does* border on (if not just outright is) dismissive of both her sexuality and her intelligence. I mean, like, fuck, she’s obviously *in love* with her wife, what she’s lost is her sexual attraction to her never-was-husband. This is not a person to whom “oh, hey, I should try working through this” would never have occurred.

        3. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm |

          Li,

          I understand what you’re saying mac, and I largely agree with it, but I do think it’s important when giving advice to the partners of people beginning to transition to talk about the fact that they may experience an alteration to their sexual orientation. Not because they *should*, but because they *might*, whether or not they are particularly interested in it happening.

          I think you’re absolutely right about that (and I’m pretty sure that Mac does, too), but I think what she’s attacking here isn’t the statement that this could happen, but the seeming concept in some comments here, that though this clearly isn’t happening for the LW, she should be trying harder to make it happen. That’s the bit that seems to be skeeving her out. (Rightfully so, IMO)

      5. Marissa123
        Marissa123 November 24, 2012 at 11:32 am |

        “But what some women seem to me to be saying here, women like tmc and Marissa123, is that gender is not particularly important TO THEM in determining who they are attracted to or who they would stay married to. ”

        Exactly. I was definitely talking about myself here. And also to lament the ways in which gender has been constructed as binary difference.

        That aside, I never suggested that she needs to stay with her wife. No one should ever be forced to be with anyone ever. My comment was also in no way intended to police others’ sexual orientations. I certainly have my gender preferences and limitations. But instead my comment was intended towards the situation – someone already married to another and seeking advice on what to do and what I see as bunk and surreptitiously transphobic advice.

        I was speaking out against the way Prudie addressed the issue: with no consideration for appropriate gender pronouns and no mention of marriage counseling/individual counseling to work through what is clearly not an easy choice for the letter writer. And I think Prudie might extend this common decency to, for instance, a husband writing to say he was losing attraction to his wife because of a bodily change, since Prudie so clearly rooted the issue in a supposed “material change to the marriage contract.”

        1. Valoniel
          Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

          what I see as bunk and surreptitiously transphobic advice.

          I think we’re all agreed here, that there was nothing surreptitious about the transphobia in that advice.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

          And also to lament the ways in which gender has been constructed as binary difference.

          I don’t think this thread is the best place to lament that.

      6. EG
        EG November 24, 2012 at 11:33 am |

        This particular woman–the letter-writer–seems quite clear on the waning of her romantic feelings for her wife as her wife makes her transition. That may mean she’s straight, or it may mean that she’s bi but not attracted to her wife’s presentation of femininity, or it may mean that the emotional stress of her wife transitioning has made it not possible for her to feel that attraction. But it kind of doesn’t matter. When a person stops feeling romantic or sexual about her partner, and is clear in herself that it is not a temporary cessation, I think it’s really important to take her at her word. Having one’s sense of one’s own attraction second-guessed and undercut is a really unpleasant thing, in my experience.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

          When a person stops feeling romantic or sexual about her partner, and is clear in herself that it is not a temporary cessation, I think it’s really important to take her at her word. Having one’s sense of one’s own attraction second-guessed and undercut is a really unpleasant thing, in my experience.

          Exactly. Thank you, EG.

          Frankly, as someone who’s had all sorts of homophobic/biphobic shit horked at her from the “gender shouldn’t matter”/”have you tried being heterosexual?” angle, I’m actually really just fucking upset and angry about hearing it thrown at anyone. Straight or not, a certain level of avoiding “oh, I know better, sweetie *head pats*” is basic fucking human courtesy.

          A thing I’m not seeing as much of on this thread as a total absence of “villain” in LW’s situation would lead me to expect.

        2. Marissa123
          Marissa123 November 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

          “I think it’s really important to take her at her word.”

          I can’t speak for others, but at no point was I advocating for anything else. Of COURSE take her at her word and of COURSE her autonomy is most important. I wasn’t trying to criticize her for a moment, but I was criticizing Prudie for bad advice.

          That’s the thing, the letter writer was asking for advice. If she had just told her story, not sought out advice, and expressed what she wanted and what she was doing, then anyone who would speak out against her would be a jerk.

          My issue was Prudie who clearly pushed the letter writer in one direction and it was a direction that was _deeply_ informed by social norms. A more appropriate response to a person asking advice would be: “There are many possible options, talk to a therapist if you need to figure it out, but just do what is best for yourself and there is no wrong answer here as it is about you and your feelings and your needs.”

          Prudie clearly did not do that but provided a bunk justification for why the letter writer should leave, a breech of the materiality of the marriage contract, while using a transphobic misgendering of her spouse, in every way simply following the demands of the status quo. My criticism is entirely against Prudie, NOT the letter writer.

        3. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |

          I agree with that EG. But since there are people here (Prudie, Miss S, among others) who are using this letter as an opportunity to endorse transphobic stereotypes, it seems natural to me to not only discuss the particular situation of the LW, but the situation of married people, in general, whose spouse comes out as trans. Since Prudie and Miss S are relying on their stereotypical understandings of such situations to opine on this topic, I think it’s important to talk about the actual reality of these situations (and not merely just the specific reality of the LW and her wife as individuals). But yes, I take the LW at her word that she is losing her attraction to her wife and is miserable in her marriage. I don’t think it’s helpful to second guess her on that. And I think a divorce probably makes the most sense here; it seems to be what she wants.

      7. Combray
        Combray November 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |

        But in this particular case, the LW writes:

        It has been three months, and as much as I love my husband, I am miserable. To a certain extent, my love for my husband is rooted in his manhood. The more my husband transitions into becoming a woman, the less romantic love I feel for her.

        With that in mind, the few comments in this thread where it’s implied that gender shouldn’t matter in sexual relationships seem really inappropriate. It clearly matters to the LW. Some people obviously have orientations fluid enough for gender to be a non-issue in a sexual/romantic context, but it’s not okay to expect the same from everyone across the board.

        I really believe that no one here is claiming that sexual orientations don’t or shouldn’t exist, or that they’re the kind of thing that you can tinker with at will. But based on the letter, it seems like the LW identifies as heterosexual, so the suggestions that she could reconcile a sexual relationship with her wife with some therapy/time/love sound dismissive of her sexuality at best and transphobic at worst.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm |

          Combray, this is exactly what I wanted to say, except I babbled like mad. Thank you!

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm |

          You know, I actually agree with that. Based off what I know of LW’s situation, I think the best course would probably be getting a divorce, as I said upthread. If someone is miserable because she is no longer sexually attracted to her partner, it seems like it’s time to consider ending the marriage.

        3. Combray
          Combray November 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm |

          I think you were perfectly clear and I was relieved to see someone address this.

        4. Combray
          Combray November 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

          My reply above this one was for macavitykitsune.

          And LotusBecca, yeah, it sounds like the LW has done as much as she should reasonably be expected to. It’s an awful situation, but there’s really no one at fault.

      8. Valoniel
        Valoniel November 26, 2012 at 12:52 am |

        Hey, lookit that, Jill was right when she told Tomek that one can learn a lot from just reading here!

        Also, saying “transgendered” instead of “transgender.”

        Thanks, Becca, for pointing that one out, because I (with my incredibly limited rl experience with trans people) had never heard this. I’ve looked it up, now.

        Since I’ve used the term ‘transgendered’ incorrectly, here, I’d like to offer my apologies to everyone. It won’t happen again.

        1. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

          Glad you learned something Valoniel! :-)

          And speaking solely for myself, it’s not really something I’m personally offended by or care too much about. I mean, I know plenty of trans women IRL who use non-PC constructions like “transgendered” or “transwoman” or “trans-woman” and so on to describe THEMSELVES. I get the political arguments against these terms, and I agree with these arguments, but I also don’t really fault any one for using these words. There are actually still some people who prefer them, so it can be admittedly confusing. It’s more just that the more “non-PC” trans terminology a cis person uses it raises a red flag for me (a really small red flag, but a red flag) saying, “OK. This person probably hasn’t studied too much about trans issues.” Which is OK, but there IS often a correlation between lack of study/interest and prejudice. Of course, some people haven’t studied at all and are totally accepting, whereas some supposed “allies” are actually complete assholes to trans people underneath their act.

          In any event, (to me at least) “transgendered” is not even in the same offensiveness ballpark as the type of horrible misgendering Miss S was defending. But yeah, “transgender” is the preferred term. So thanks for your apology Valoniel! :-)

  36. Jadey
    Jadey November 24, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    @ Miss S

    I don’t know if you are still reading this thread, but after I went back through all the back and forth again and thought about it some more, I saw that there were still two things I wanted to say.

    Not really- knowing something is privately acknowledging it. But I get the larger point, and I don’t know whether the non transitioning wife was being deceptive. I said (or should have said) IF they were, it’s not cool. If there was no deception, then it’s just one of those things.

    I think this might be one of the places where you really fall down on the subjects of transsexuality and homosexuality*, because it seems like you don’t understand how self-deception** is such an enormous factor here. One of the major ways in which the marginalization of trans and queer people is different from racism or traditional views of sexism is that it is (usually) an “unmarked” status. There are no fundamental outwardly visual or behavioural signifiers that actually let a person or anyone around them know what their gender identity status or sexual orientation is, which is why most of us start by assuming we are straight and cis and then have to go down a very long confusing road of figuring out if we are or not. To hold that confusion, which is the product of a hetero and cissexist society and not anything innate to our status, against us is really hurtful and in itself a reflection of bigoted social norms.

    When you say, “Not really- knowing something is privately acknowledging it.”, that tells me that either you have had a very privileged experience of never engaging in such self-deception as a result of trying to conform to a norm like this, or you misunderstood my use of scare quotes around “know”, to signify something which is deeply and inevitably felt, but which cannot be consciously acknowledged or accepted.

    I know you have made an effort to read and understand my comments and I appreciate that, but your continued reference to the possibility of deception tells me you haven’t really gotten what I’ve said and how hurtful the deception meme is. Is it theoretically possible that a person could fully know that they intended to transition and deliberately decided to withhold that information to lure someone into a marriage with them? Yes, it is, in a vast universe, possible. But as a scenario it is both so implausible *and* so offensive that to continue referencing it or bring it up in the first place with absolutely no grounds for such an extreme assertion is hurtful and reflects badly on you. It’s very much akin to an MRA who keeps insisting, “Yes, maybe she wasn’t lying about being raped, but if she was!”. I’m not exaggerating for effect or to make you feel bad – I’m honestly telling you it’s that kind of connotation. It’s not a position worth being defensive about.

    *Being trans and being gay aren’t the same thing, but as axes of oppression they share more in common with each other than some other axes.

    **Yes, I used “deception”, but we know that deception of the self because of the sheer pain of acknowledging and embracing a self-truth is different from the willful and even manipulative misleading of others.

    Second, and this was from your reply to Donna:

    I see people using gender neutral language on here ALL the time, like using ‘zie’ so I do feel like your comment wasn’t necessary.

    This is more technical, but just so there is no confusion in the future: gender neutral pronouns are okay when A) the person being described is known to prefer them, B) the person being described is hypothetical and you are trying to avoid unnecessarily gendering them, or C) the gender ID or preferred pronouns of the person being described are completely unknown and cannot be inferred by the available information (at which point, an apologizing disclaimer can be appropriate as well). To refer to a person with known preferred non-neutral pronouns by gender-neutral pronouns is misgendering them and in the case of trans people especially is offensive, because trans people are misgendered as a matter of course, because that’s what cissexism is about.

    So you didn’t know how to use those pronouns appropriately and that comment wasn’t unnecessary and I really think you need to double-check your hostility toward Donna. If you perceive that she is hostile and unfriendly toward you, have you considered that it might be because you keep saying such offensive things around her?

    I’m guessing that you are feeling piled on by all of these comments, but I can say that on my part at least, one of the reasons I keep persisting is that dammit I really like you, *except* on these issues, and I really, really, really want to see you change on this and stop showing your ass. This is one of those moments where you can educate yourself, change your perspective, and start bringing even more to the table. I can only hope that when I fuck up on things like racism and classism and other axes that I don’t have personal experience on, people care enough about me to call me on my shit like this.

    1. Valoniel
      Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |

      Jadey, I know that your responses haven’t been directed to me, but I’d like to thank you for patiently and fully explaining things, because i find it incredibly helpful. There are things that I know, instinctively, about what should or should not be navigated with care on these issues, but it often happens that while my gut says ‘no’ to some things, I’m left wondering what is the correct and respectful way to go.

      So, yeah…thanks. It’s appreciated.

    2. DonnaL
      DonnaL November 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm |

      Jadey, thanks for explaining to Miss S — not that it should have to be explained — that the fact that people sometimes use gender-neutral pronouns doesn’t mean it’s always OK to do so. Especially with respect to a trans woman for whom female pronouns are obviously what should be used. As her own spouse does.

      I’ve been away for a couple of days, and giving a detailed explanation of all of that that was something I really wasn’t looking forward to.

    3. Miss S
      Miss S November 25, 2012 at 2:03 am |

      Jadey- I just saw this.

      First, I really, really, appreciate your responses and your explanations.

      Second, I realized later exactly what you meant in regards to knowing/not knowing and sexuality. I’ve been right there as far as sexuality goes, so I do know firsthand…but I got frustrated and wasn’t thinking.

      Third, I had no bad intentions for using gender neutral language, but it offended people, and that’s why I apologized. My “it’s not okay” comment (which someone couldn’t, for the life of them, understand), was in reference to that. Sure, I didn’t have bad intentions, but it’s still not okay, because it hurt people.

      Fourth- I’m not a hostile person, but if someone repeatedly responds to my comments in a hostile manner, I’m either going to be hostile, or I’m going to ignore them. DonnaL and I don’t need to be friends.

      Fifth- I might not agree with others sometimes trans issues, but when does everyone on this site agree? Never. On topics like sex, dating, rape, capitalism kids, racism……. people disagree. ALL the time in fact.

      Lastly, thanks again for this post. I do respect your opinion and thoughts, and you’ve been a consistent ally when racism shows up and that doesn’t go unappreciated.

      1. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

        I’m not a hostile person, but if someone repeatedly responds to my comments in a hostile manner, I’m either going to be hostile, or I’m going to ignore them. DonnaL and I don’t need to be friends.

        Enough already. Please stop focusing on the alleged “tone” of my comments, and start trying to do something about your own ignorance. Perhaps trying to learn about trans issues would be a better solution than (a) being hostile yourself, or (b) ignoring what people have to say.

        Despite your apology — which I did accept, based on the theory that the consistent offensiveness of your comments derives more from ignorance than from hatred — and your promise to try to “do better,” this comment demonstrates that you aren’t trying at all, and have made no effort whatsoever to take in anything anyone has said to you in trying to explain why your comments were, in fact, offensive.

        As far as my alleged hostility to you is concerned, I defy you to point to a single comment I’ve ever made to you that wasn’t an entirely appropriate response to transphobia, homophobia, or anti-Semitism. I’m afraid that you sound very much like the people who respond to accusations of racism and misogyny by condemning the accusations and ignoring the underlying offense, and claiming that — for example — it’s just as bad to call someone a racist as it is to say racist things.

        Yes, people disagree here about many things. But there are some core values we’re supposed to share, which is why MRA trolls who keep saying openly hateful things about women eventually get banned, and which is why it’s considered unacceptable to make (at least obviously) racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic comments. Somehow, some people don’t seem to think that transphobia falls into the same category, and act as if the legitimacy and authenticity of trans people, and their entitlement to basic respect, are open to “debate.” But there is no legitimate debate; there aren’t “two sides” to that issue, any more than there are two sides to the “issue” of whether homosexuality is a mental disorder. Or a sin, for that matter.

        1. DonnaL
          DonnaL November 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

          My response to Miss S is, of course, in moderation.

        2. Kayay
          Kayay November 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

          Are you also Donna L? Maybe that’s why all this moderation business, because you’re not using the same details to post?

        3. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 1:12 am |

          But I also don’t see the issue of transitioning as black and white as others on here do. I’m not the only one- there are plenty of feminist spaces online who examine these very issues. Imagine that.

          I don’t have to imagine it, Miss S, because I think I know exactly what kinds of sites you have in mind. Places like gendertrender and others of the sort that devote themselves to attacking trans people. The kinds of places that call themselves “radical feminist,” but are actually about far from being radical as could possibly be the case. And if that’s where you get your talking points from, there’s no hope for you at all. Go peddle your thoughts on “the issue of transitioning” in those places, not here.

          Your “apology” looks more phony every minute.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 3:11 am |

          A response to Miss S is in moderation, and after that I’m done with this conversation with her. I can’t do this anymore, and I shouldn’t have to; I can feel my blood pressure and stress level go through the roof with every comment.

        5. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 3:39 am |

          I hear you Donna. I know we’re disagreeing here on one subthread. . .but I think we’re completely on the same page in terms of Miss S. She just keeps spewing her cissexist garbage and it–I feel so angry about it all, I don’t even know how to put it into words. You’re right: you shouldn’t have to deal with it. We shouldn’t have to. It’s a damn fucking shame is what it is.

      2. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

        Yes, I am. I was wondering why some of my comments have the avatar and some don’t. But I have no idea why it is that some of my comments appear as one and some as the other — I’m not doing anything different! Help!

        1. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

          Testing . . . .

        2. trees
          trees November 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

          “Donna L” with space and avatar
          “DonnaL” no space, no avatar

          Are you manually typing it in, or is it auto-fill?

        3. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

          I didn’t do anything I’m aware of to make it start showing up as “DonnaL,” but I added the space in the reply box before posting my last comment, and that made the avatar appear. But my “DonnaL” comments in moderation are no longer visible to me, and I can’t make my user name go back to showing up as “DonnaL” so I can read them and try copying and re-posting them under my proper user name. Oh well, they’ll show up eventually!

        4. trees
          trees November 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

          A pity. I so very much appreciate your comments here. I have always wanted to tell you how much I admire your openness and courage. It’s inspiring. I’m a lurker and don’t often have much to contribute to the discussion, but when things turn ugly in the comments, I send you positive thoughts and benevolent energy (and cyber hugs).

        5. Jadey
          Jadey November 25, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

          Donna, I’ve had it before where I switched to a computer where I wasn’t “logged in” as it were with “Jadey”, etc., until I entered my usual information to make a comment, and when I did all my modded comments became visible at that point. So “DonnaL” and “Donna L” probably are being treated as separate identities by the system.

        6. Kayay
          Kayay November 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |

          Bingo. I was wondering why you had two separate avatars and thus noticed the space. :)

        7. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm |

          OK, so I’m going to try to post a copy of my (obviously hostile!) response to Miss S’s most recent comment, using my correct user name, to see if it goes into moderation. Apologies, if the first one comes out of moderation and this one doesn’t go into moderation, for the duplication. But maybe it’s worth saying twice, to get my point across:

          I’m not a hostile person, but if someone repeatedly responds to my comments in a hostile manner, I’m either going to be hostile, or I’m going to ignore them. DonnaL and I don’t need to be friends.

          Enough already. Please stop focusing on the alleged “tone” of my comments, and start trying to do something about your own ignorance. Perhaps trying to learn about trans issues would be a better solution than (a) being hostile yourself, or (b) ignoring what people have to say.

          Despite your apology — which I did accept, based on the theory that the consistent offensiveness of your comments derives more from ignorance than from hatred — and your promise to try to “do better,” this comment demonstrates that you aren’t trying at all, and have made no effort whatsoever to take in anything anyone has said to you in trying to explain why your comments were, in fact, offensive.

          As far as my alleged hostility to you is concerned, I defy you to point to a single comment I’ve ever made to you that wasn’t an entirely appropriate response to transphobia, homophobia, or anti-Semitism. I’m afraid that you sound very much like the people who respond to accusations of racism and misogyny by condemning the accusations and ignoring the underlying offense, and claiming that — for example — it’s just as bad to call someone a racist as it is to say racist things.

          Yes, people disagree here about many things. But there are some core values we’re supposed to share, which is why MRA trolls who keep saying openly hateful things about women eventually get banned, and which is why it’s considered unacceptable to make (at least obviously) racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic comments. Somehow, some people don’t seem to think that transphobia falls into the same category, and act as if the legitimacy and authenticity of trans people, and their entitlement to basic respect, are open to “debate.” But there is no legitimate debate; there aren’t “two sides” to that issue, any more than there are two sides to the “issue” of whether homosexuality is a mental disorder. Or a sin, for that matter.

        8. Donna L
          Donna L November 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

          My response to Miss S is now out of moderation, here:

          http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/11/20/prudie-takes-on-gender-transition/#comment-550974

          I tried posting it again under my correct user name to see if it stayed out of moderation. It didn’t. Jill, please don’t bother approving the second attempt, since it’s exactly the same as what just came out of moderation. Thanks.

          And if Miss S thinks my response is hostile, so be it.

        9. Miss S
          Miss S November 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm |

          Please stop focusing on the alleged “tone” of my comments, and start trying to do something about your own ignorance.

          I don’t think you ignore the “tone” of comments towards you any more than I do.

          Somehow, some people don’t seem to think that transphobia falls into the same category, and act as if the legitimacy and authenticity of trans people, and their entitlement to basic respect, are open to “debate.” But there is no legitimate debate; there aren’t “two sides” to that issue, any more than there are two sides to the “issue” of whether homosexuality is a mental disorder

          I don’t think I’ve ever suggested that trans people weren’t entitled to basic respect. In fact, I know I haven’t. because I don’t believe that. But I also don’t see the issue of transitioning as black and white as others on here do. I’m not the only one- there are plenty of feminist spaces online who examine these very issues. Imagine that.

          Or a sin, for that matter.
          Cute, but I never said that either.

        10. Miss S
          Miss S November 26, 2012 at 12:27 am |

          Last thing, because I think I’m about done with this particular thread- I’ve never suggested on this blog that everyone doesn’t deserve basic respect. I think that I’ve commented here long enough for most people to know at least that much.

          Just because I don’t think things are black and white doesn’t mean that I think people don’t deserve respect. That doesn’t even make sense. I participate on a lot of black women centered spaces, and often we find that things aren’t black and white, and that there are multiple valid perspectives- it doesn’t follow that we think we should be discriminated against.

        11. EG
          EG November 26, 2012 at 1:16 am |

          there are plenty of feminist spaces online who examine these very issues. Imagine that.

          And that is precisely why plenty of trans women have no use for a feminism that claims to advocate for women but is perfectly willing to turn on and attack trans women. That is not the kind of feminism that has been accepted at Feministe in the time I’ve been reading the blog.

          But I also don’t see the issue of transitioning as black and white as others on here do.

          But you do. You are the one who sees the issue of trans-ness as black and white. Either a trans person is completely open and informative from the get-go or that person is deceptive (as if this has ever happened). You are the one not allowing for nuance and gradations of experience.

        12. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 1:24 am |

          I posted my most recent comment in the wrong place; here’s a summary of it, where it belongs:


          But I also don’t see the issue of transitioning as black and white as others on here do. I’m not the only one- there are plenty of feminist spaces online who examine these very issues. Imagine that.

          I don’t have to imagine it, Miss S, because I think I know exactly what kinds of sites you have in mind. And if that’s where you get your talking points from, there’s no hope at all. Please take your thoughts on “the issue of transitioning” to those places, not here.

          Your “apology” looks less legitimate every minute.

        13. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 1:34 am |

          Last thing, because I think I’m about done with this particular thread

          Thank God.

          While you’re still here though, please cut the bullshit. Neither Donna, nor I, nor Jadey, nor Li, nor tmc, nor any of the other people who have been calling you out think the “issue of transitioning” is “black and white.” I happen to see a lot of subtlety to the issue of transitioning, actually. It’s a process that I’ve had plenty of opportunity to the study over the past 9 months, as I’ve been living it.

          I’m not the only one- there are plenty of feminist spaces online who examine these very issues.

          Ooooh goodie. Really? Maybe you can give me a link. I’m always excited to hear about new feminist, non-black-and-white concepts. What are some of these sites? GenderTrender? Radfem Hub? Please do tell!

        14. Donna L
          Donna L November 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

          Thanks, EG. I doubt that Miss S is paying any attention at this point to anything that I (or Becca) have to say — what with our mysterious “hostility” and all that — so perhaps she’ll listen to you.

        15. Miss S
          Miss S November 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

          EG there are a lot of comments here and you might have missed some by me but this
          Either a trans person is completely open and informative from the get-go or that person is deceptive (as if this has ever happened). isn’t true. I posted that I did in fact understand how the situation could happen without anyone being deceptive. I feel like I’ve posted that more than once. At this point, I don’t think anyone is reading my replies.

        16. Miss S
          Miss S November 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

          And that is precisely why plenty of trans women have no use for a feminism that claims to advocate for women but is perfectly willing to turn on and attack trans women.

          Just, no. I said IF someone knows that they are trans and plan to transition in the future, and they marry a heterosexual partner, that is deceptive. That is not an attack. That’s my opinion on people who keep major life changing secrets from people that they marry. I never said a thing about people who didn’t know, who didn’t feel that way until later, who weren’t sure, or any of the qualifications that other people threw on. I was talking about one situation, not all of them. For everyone to jump on the bandwagon and suggest hundreds of scenarios where the behavior wouldn’t be deceptive is silly, because I made it clear that I wasn’t talking about those.

        17. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm |

          Just, no. I said IF someone knows that they are trans and plan to transition in the future, and they marry a heterosexual partner, that is deceptive.

          If a woman doesn’t get raped, and then runs into walls to give herself bruises to make it look like she was manhandled, and then accuses some random innocent man she barely even knows of raping her, and then pays all his friends bribes to testify against him in court and say he is a person of bad character, and then he gets convicted and winds up getting executed by lethal injection, then that is deceptive.

          True. But when has that ever happened? Miss S, do you have an evidence for your bullshit or do you just like to randomly speculate about things at transgender people’s expense?

        18. Donna L
          Donna L November 27, 2012 at 12:13 am |

          Miss S, the problem I see is that you’re focusing all your attention on a hypothetical scenario that just doesn’t happen that way, and doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, as everybody’s been trying to explain to you in all sorts of different ways. Your insistence on pursuing that scenario does nothing but harm, by reinforcing the idea that the “trans deceiver” is a real thing that happens in this world — trans people deceiving cis people, whether to trick them into sex or marriage or both.

        19. Donna L
          Donna L November 27, 2012 at 12:16 am |

          And another response to Miss S goes into moderation. I can’t believe the moderation on this thread. The filters just have to have been dialed up in intensity on this thread, because all of a sudden I’ve gone from about 1 out of 10 comments going into moderation, to 1 out of 10 not going into moderation.

        20. EG
          EG November 27, 2012 at 12:26 am |

          I said IF someone knows that they are trans and plan to transition in the future, and they marry a heterosexual partner, that is deceptive. That is not an attack.

          Can you find an instance of this happening? This is literally the equivalent of saying “IF a woman goes out on a date with a guy, and then has sex with him, and then regrets it the next morning, and then accuses him of rape, that is dishonest.” This is not a thing that happens. What does happen, however, is cis people–usually men–using “deception” as an excuse to beat and kill trans people–usually women. Why you would want to invoke this imaginary transphobic scenario in response to the situation described in this letter, which you have no reason to believe is at all like your imaginary deceptive trans boogeyman, is inexplicable.

          Oh, wait, it’s not. It’s easily explicable. By transphobia.

          I was talking about one situation, not all of them.

          You were talking about an imaginary situation that has nothing to do with the situation addressed in this post. And yet you still don’t see the problem there.

        21. EG
          EG November 27, 2012 at 12:29 am |

          I posted that I did in fact understand how the situation could happen without anyone being deceptive.

          Yes, I know you did. And yet you keep on invoking the idea of deception as though it is at all relevant. Do you not see that that’s the problem?

          Please explain what you mean by “black and white,” then.

        22. EG
          EG November 27, 2012 at 12:33 am |

          I can’t believe the moderation on this thread. The filters just have to have been dialed up in intensity on this thread, because all of a sudden I’ve gone from about 1 out of 10 comments going into moderation, to 1 out of 10 not going into moderation.

          Same here. In fact, I expect this will go into moderation.

        23. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 27, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

          Miss S: Yes, your “if, then” statement is logically true, but it’s also assholish and inappropriate right now. Sometimes there are hypotheticals that do more harm than good and this is one of those times. The trans women on this thread have been more than patient with you.

      3. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca November 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

        Actually, since you are planning to continue talking about trans issues, I would prefer you also continue to misgender people. It’s more helpful for us trans folks to have immediate signs as to who is prejudiced and who is not. Your intended course of action (continuing to defend your prejudiced beliefs whenever you feel like it, but using slightly more sensitive language) is just going to result in more people being hurt than if you choose to remain more nakedly prejudiced (that way new readers will know to completely tune out what you’re saying).

        1. Miss S
          Miss S November 25, 2012 at 11:47 pm |

          I would prefer it if you stop commenting to me. Seriously.

        2. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 1:17 am |

          Well I’d prefer it if you stop saying cissexist things. When you agree to stop saying cissexist things, then I will agree to stop giving you a hard time for the cissexist things you say.

  37. Marissa123
    Marissa123 November 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

    “And in fact, some “straight” people do modify their conception of their sexual orientation as a result of these situations, and do stay with their trans partners, even though most do not. So I don’t think it’s oppressive or anti-consent to inform straight people of these possibilities.”

    I think this is precisely what I was trying to get to. Sexuality is less stable than society insists that it is. And merely suggesting this possibility is not advocating anti-consent.

    Well, I mean, minus the part in your argument about how the wife was always a woman. That narrative is entirely socially constructed for the larger society to comprehend because it fits the gender binary and doesn’t question the status quo. Some people might have this experience, but it is not universal by any stretch.

    1. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca November 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

      Well, I mean, minus the part in your argument about how the wife was always a woman. That narrative is entirely socially constructed for the larger society to comprehend because it fits the gender binary and doesn’t question the status quo. Some people might have this experience, but it is not universal by any stretch.

      Thanks for pointing that out Marissa. And I agree with you for the most part. I will say that most (binary-identified) trans people I’ve talked to feel that they were always the same gender as they currently identify as–even if they didn’t look like it earlier, and even if they didn’t recognize it earlier. I’m trans and believe I’ve always been female, for example. But I’ve also talked to trans people whose gender fluctuates over time, or who feel they started out as one gender and then become another. So there’s as many unique trans trajectories as there are trans individuals, and yeah, I definitely think it’s important to keep that in mind.

    2. EG
      EG November 25, 2012 at 11:44 am |

      OK, but in this case, it seems that the wife was indeed always a woman. She said so, according to the letter-writer.

  38. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm |

    …gotta say, I haven’t seen so many comments that revolve around BUT HAVE YOU TRIED THE GAY, THE GAY IS GOOD since the Springkink prompts for yaoi manga closed.

    1. Valoniel
      Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm |

      Ah, Springkink…so reliably fucked up.

    2. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan November 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

      Oh yaoi fans. Don’t you ever change.

  39. Valoniel
    Valoniel November 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |

    It occurs to me re: that whole ‘deception’ thing, that there’s only one reason to be talking about the possibility that this might happen, and that’s to talk about why it might happen. I.E. why there’s such fear and despair involved with realising that one is transgendered, and how that isn’t cool, and we need to be making it stop.

    Whether or not it’s occurred in any given situation is, afiact, actually completely immaterial, on the level of making assertions that gay is a choice. That is: Well, no, but even if it was, how the fuck does that matter even a little bit? I’m going to go right ahead and say that given the level of transphobia in the world at large, any deceptions of self and/or others is really organic and justified, and anyone who can’t understand that can just go suck on a lemon. Seriously. It shouldn’t even be a question.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 12:03 am |

      Honestly, the “deception” thing baffles the shit out of me. It’s fucking ridiculous. And I don’t mean just plain ridiculous, I mean galactically, cosmically, multiversically ridiculous. Realistically, let’s look at what it would take for a closeted trans person to “deceive” his or her partner:

      Section A: Pre-bonded-relationship:
      1) All the time/effort/money involved in wooing the partner.
      2) Hiding their gender all the time of the dating, causing themselves massive dysphoria-related pain the entire time.
      3) Hiding all evidence of a “past trans life” or emotion about it in order to perform seamlessly as a cis person, again causing themselves massive pain and anxiety.
      Section B: Pre-marriage:
      1) Repeatedly lying to their fiance(e) about their gender identity (because you KNOW transphobes think that Every Measure Was Taken)
      2) All the things that Section A entailed.
      3) Binding themselves financially to their fiance(e) so that they can have massive issues separating and maintaining their income/standard of living come divorce time.
      4) Binding themselves socially to their fiance(e) so that everyone will feel the trans person is a massive asshole come divorce time.
      Section C: Post Marriage
      1) All of section A and B
      2) KIDS. That the non-trans partner can then use as pawns/take away entirely/treat like shit for no fault of their own.
      3) Ditto pets and mutual friends circles.

      All of these things, for one moment of going AHA I TRICKED YOU I WAS TRANS ALL ALONG LOLOLOLOL, apparently.

      …HOLY COMMITMENT TO DECEPTION, BATMAN.

      1. SophiaBlue
        SophiaBlue November 26, 2012 at 1:34 am |

        Bah, who let macavitykitsune get a copy of the Transgender Plan for World Domination via Making Cis People Cry? Time for Plan B everyone!

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

          Plan B is just pepper-spraying all the cis people in the face, right? ‘Cause that seems like a quicker and simpler way to make them cry. :p

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

          As a good cis woman* I for one already weep tears of fire every night at the idea that somewhere, somehow, a trans person is having a nice day.

          *spoiler: I’m not. ;)

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

          (I would say something about what a naughty, naughty cis woman you are, but I believe you are happily married and she would like that job to stay exclusive. ;p)

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

          she would like that job to stay exclusive.

          ;) You assume strange things, Bagelsan. Strange things you assume. (She’s currently grinning her ass off at your comment.)

      2. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca November 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm |

        :-D

        This comment is brilliant Mac! I was almost starting to feel you didn’t get some basic stuff because of our exchange above, but I feel that you have restored your allyship about one hundred times over with a comment like this.

        And I know, right? People who accuse trans folks of deception never seem to really stop and think about what exactly is in it for us. What’s the big payoff for this deception, exactly? Based off the status of trans people in society, it seems like our master plan is not working out too well.

        It’s like these people can’t realize that just because they are *surprised* doesn’t mean they are being *tricked*. Sometimes life just surprise you. This is especially the case if a person remains steadfastly closed off to new information. If you refuse to learn new things, you will begin to observe that many surprising, inexplicable things seem to be continuously happening. No deception required.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm |

          What’s the big payoff for this deception, exactly?

          I thought it was Cis Single Tears(TM)? Isn’t that, like, your currency?

          It’s like these people can’t realize that just because they are *surprised* doesn’t mean they are being *tricked*.

          Ha! I’ve spent several days wondering how to articulate that.

          I just…find the insistence that there was *deception* really just bizarre. But I make it all seem logical by mentally appending “and for her grand finale, Prudie went on to accuse escaping slaves for deceiving innocent whites who thought they were legit humans(TM)”. Seems about as logical given the power differentials.

          Hopefully we’ll have a society soon where the two statements will be equally ridiculous.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 27, 2012 at 12:27 am |

          And honestly, it follows from the argument I thought Valoniel was making upthread: Where the fuck do cis people have the RIGHT to debate whether or not a trans person is being deceptive or not? We non-trans people – yes, even the sorta-cis like me – just plain lose our Trans Ally card the second we even engage it. It’s about as insulting as debating whether a person of X race is human or not, or whether gay people deserve marriage equality. I read her as saying that it’s fucking disgusting that the debate happens AT ALL, no matter whether the “outcome” is favourable to trans people or not, and that Prudie’s justification bullshit is disgusting, in and of itself, and doesn’t deserve engaging, whether or not it’s “factual”. I just… I don’t feel like I – or, fuck me, anyone not trans – can even address the statement without immediately receiving a (well-deserved) scarlet B for Bigot. I know it’s unrealistic to expect – assholes will expel shit and all – but the day when the whole debate’s buried and trans people dance a jig on the grave can’t come too soon for me.

  40. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca November 27, 2012 at 1:18 am |

    OK. I’m flouncing from this thread. Sorry to anyone I’m abandoning in mid-discussion. Mac, I feel that we’re cool again. But the strain of talking to a bunch of well-meaning cis allies, many of whom I think have some MAJOR BLIND SPOTS, while at the same time also having to read Miss S’s absolute garbage is just too much for me. I need to not come to this website for like a week or so.

    Yes, the point of this message is to be melodramatic, but this is my catharsis, OK? This is my screaming into the wind. Of course, nothing that’s happened here is that bad by itself. But there’s context, see? I know most of you probably understand this because most of you, even if you aren’t trans, are marginalized in some way (and a whole lot of you are marginalized in way more ways than I am). So I’m sure you know what it’s like to struggle to have a break from the bullshit.

    But most of you, on this topic, the trans topic, may be worked up about this, but you can turn off the computer, walk away, and not experience bullshit of exactly the same nature as what’s happening right here on this thread. I can’t do that. This is going to be the sort of bullshit I’ll have to deal with tomorrow on the bus. This is going to be the sort of bullshit I’ll have to deal with when I come out to my extended family over Christmas. This is going to be the sort of bullshit I’ll have to deal with if I want to meet a person at a bar or on OKCupid who might actually want to date me. This is going to be the sort of bullshit I’ll have to deal with every day, in one form of another, for the rest of my life.

    So there’s no escape for me. Therefore, I need to take my respites when I can. I’ve cried enough tears typing out my responses today (sometimes tears of gratitude or sadness, sometimes tears of rage). I can only voluntarily expose myself to so much of this bullshit. Sometimes it’s just a better idea to do some yoga, or have a glass of wine, or read a chapter in textbook for my Human Development class (let’s just hope this next chapter doesn’t have as much gender essentialism as the last one did).

    So anyway, peace and love to y’all. I hope you forgive my desire to grandstand right here. And much respect to everyone who had the back of trans people on this thread; you know who you are.

    1. EG
      EG November 27, 2012 at 1:22 am |

      Becca, I just wanted to wish you all the luck in the world in coming out over Christmas. I’ll be thinking of you.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L November 27, 2012 at 1:52 am |

      Becca, I know how hard this is. For you, for me, for other trans people, this isn’t an academic or hypothetical discussion; it’s our lives. I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I’ve thought I just couldn’t do this anymore, because something similar always happens, in one way or another, in every. single. thread. that touches even peripherally on trans issues.

      And, yes, good luck coming out to your extended family at Christmas. Sometimes these things can go surprisingly well, especially if you try to set it up so you’ll have one or more people already on your side. (What I did was send a letter to several cousins in advance of Thanksgiving in 2004, coming out to them and letting them know that I was planning to come to our annual family gathering as myself that year, and would be transitioning the following spring. No way I was going to just show up without advance warning; I’m not that brave! And it was pretty much OK. At least it wasn’t as scary as coming out to my father, or my bosses at work. That was the worst. )

      This is going to be the sort of bullshit I’ll have to deal with every day, in one form of another, for the rest of my life.

      I hope that isn’t so. But I’ve certainly had the same sinking feeling many times, that every person I ever meet for the rest of my life — and certainly every person to whom I confide my history — is going to pass judgment on me as to whether I “qualify” as a woman in their eyes. It’s such a scary concept that I do my very best to think about it as little as possible.

    3. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue November 27, 2012 at 2:51 am |

      You definitely deserve to let loose with a little melodrama. Good luck to you, Becca.

    4. BBBShrewHarpy
      BBBShrewHarpy November 27, 2012 at 8:21 am |

      A lot of us get it, Becca, even if we say nothing. I don’t feel I have anything useful to contribute on this subject, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t followed this discussion with interest and empathy. I’m sure if the LW is somehow aware of this site she will get much more from the lived experiences of (especially) Donna than anything Prudie told her. I know I learn a lot from these threads, mostly what not to say and how best to be an ally.

    5. Donna L
      Donna L November 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

      Becca, in case you’re still reading this thread, my response to you from last night just came out of moderation, including my thoughts (based on personal experience) on coming out as trans to extended family at a major holiday, and the way I tried to make it less of a big deal by sending a “coming out” letter to several relatives in advance. Not only did that make me less overwhelmingly anxious about the actual event, but I was trying to avoid, as much as possible, leaving myself open to accusations of being “selfish,” making the holiday all about me, making people uncomfortable at what was supposed to be a pleasant occasion, etc., etc.

    6. Valoniel
      Valoniel November 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

      Becca,

      I’m sorry to have caused you such grief, particularly, at such an extra-stressful time. I think that we’ve been talking past each other, and I think that there’s been a pretty fundamental disconnect. I’m going to try to explain some of the things that I’ve said, though if you’re not particularly interested in checking that out, I wouldn’t blame you.

      If you do, however, I’d like you to know that I’ve also calmed the hell down, and I think that I just might be able to hear you more completely. Hopefully, if you read, you’ll also get a better understanding of what it was that I was trying to say, because I really feel like there wasn’t a whole lot of good communications going on yesterday.

    7. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

      Hey, Becca,

      I’m glad we’re cool. I know you’re probably not gonna read this, but just in case you do, please know I’m rooting for you over Christmas! I hope it goes well, I really do. And (on the coming-out thing) I’d like to second Donna’s advice about coming out on “paper” to others beforehand – I did a similar sort of thing with some of my family and not having me *right there* and feeling like they had to deal wtih it *right then* seems to have helped some of them.

    8. Donna L
      Donna L November 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm |

      Also in the category of free advice probably worth no more than what you’re paying for it: don’t be too discouraged if any particular person’s initial reaction isn’t positive. Sometimes people do become more accepting with time. On the other hand, don’t get too elated by initial indications of acceptance, because that can change too sometimes.

      For example, for the first month or so after I transitioned at work, the guy in the office next to mine, with whom I had been reasonably friendly, not only stopped speaking to me but wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence; he would walk right past me in the hall as if he hadn’t seen me. It wasn’t quite as humiliating as the one woman who would ostentatiously walk out of the ladies’ room every time she saw me in there, slamming the door behind her, but it was still embarrassing. That changed when he needed my advice on something, and now, seven years later, I’m better friends with him than I am with anyone else at work.

      Even my ex has gone from refusing to use “Donna” rather than my old name (she used to address notes and emails to me as “D.,” since my first initial hadn’t changed), and consistently misgendering me to our son, and interrogating our son to try to browbeat him into “admitting” that he didn’t want me to transition and was traumatized by it (he was very brave to stand up to her, at the age of 14), to consistently using the correct name and pronoun, even outside my presence, at least according to my son.

      We’re hardly the best of friends and never will be, but it’s certainly an improvement. My son even told me the other day that she recently said to him, “you know, Donna was cute as a guy, but she’s better-looking as a woman.” (I guess I’m flattered, but let’s hope she’s not interested all of a sudden in getting back together after 12 years! Among many other reasons, I could never trust her, and am quite sure that her acceptance is only skin-deep; after all, it’s only been about a year since she got annoyed at me about something and immediately made an accidentally-on-purpose reference in an email to my old name. Which is still better than it used to be.)

      1. Donna L
        Donna L November 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

        As I said, though, you can’t always assume that an initial positive response is going to last forever. My father’s wife — who’s 30 years younger than he is and only about 6 years older than I am — seemed to be accepting of my transition initially, and (at the behest of my then-partner who was friendly with her), even paved the way a little bit with my father by talking to him about the general subject in advance of the discussion in which I came out to him. In the eight years since then, however, she’s treated me rather abominably (my son’s description). I don’t think I’ll ever forgive her for not inviting me, the year after I transitioned, to a big dinner honoring my father for his involvement in political and judicial reform movements over the last 60 years; her excuse after the fact, when I found out about it, was that she didn’t think I’d be interested. I know perfectly well why I wasn’t invited; she thought I would “embarrass” my father and draw attention away from him.

        And even though I’ve been invited to a couple of similar events since then, after I expressed disappointment about the first time, at one she reprimanded me for presuming to introduce myself to some of my father’s old friends (“This isn’t about you; it’s about your father!”), and at another she made sure that my son and I were seated at the opposite end of the restaurant rather than at the table with her and my father. And she’s the only person in the world who still consistently uses the wrong pronoun for me, at least once every time we get together, and even in front of strangers. She gives me the old “I try, but it’s really hard” excuse, and when I finally told her at Thanksgiving last year that I couldn’t take it anymore, she yelled at me for being “selfish” and “ungrateful” for everything she supposedly did for me 8 years ago, yada yada. Did I say I’m not happy with her?

        And even the person who was my partner for several years after my marriage, as wonderful as things were at one time, wasn’t above pulling the “trans card” on occasion towards the end, and reminding me how grateful I should be that zie had entered into a relationship with me and had supported my first steps out in public as myself and my transition, and so on, all of which was entirely true, and, therefore, I had no right to complain that zie had kept our relationship a secret from hir family and a number of friends, and had insisted that we pretend to them all along that we were just good friends. It’s only in retrospect that I see anything wrong with that, because there were always reasons for everything, including, at various times, the need for secrecy because our relationship could affect hir standing in hir prospective divorce, and “I’ll never do anything to embarrass my family,” and “my relationship with you could hurt my children’s marriage prospects.” I still look back on the relationship as a positive experience for me overall, but I wish I hadn’t been so completely trusting.

        So is the solution never to trust a cis person, no matter how close you are to them, that the day won’t come that they’ll throw your transness in your face? I think I’m a very trusting person by nature, and tend to believe what people tell me, and to fall in love at the drop of a hat, but even I am not sure I could ever completely trust a cis person again in that regard, other than my son. I know that if I’m ever in another relationship, I’ll always have that possibility in the back of my mind. But I suspect, from things you’ve said, that you’re wary yourself. I think we have to be.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L November 28, 2012 at 1:35 am |

        Reading my last two comments again, I’m afraid that taken together with some other things I’ve written about myself recently (like my GRS and its aftermath, as one example), I might inadvertently be contributing to the “sad, lonely transsexual” meme, with doleful music playing in the background and everything. So I really want to emphasize that that isn’t how I see my life most of the time, that I view myself as incredibly fortunate in many ways, and that I’ve never had a single moment of regret for any of the changes I’ve made in my life over the last 12 years.

    9. GallingGalla
      GallingGalla November 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

      Take care, Becca, and I hope things go well over Christmas.

  41. Donna L
    Donna L November 27, 2012 at 1:53 am |

    Good luck, Becca. (Much longer comment in moderation, of course!)

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

      Becca, in case you’re still reading this thread, my response to you from last night just came out of moderation, including my thoughts (based on personal experience) on coming out as trans to extended family at a major holiday,

    2. Donna L
      Donna L November 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

      Fascinating. My comment letting Becca know that my comment from last night is out of moderation, is itself in moderation. It’s all so post-modern!

  42. Valoniel
    Valoniel November 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |

    Okay…so, now that I’ve been away from this thread for a while, calmed down, come back, got pissed off again, basically didn’t sleep and calmed down again, I figure I should address this thing in one place, all coherent-like. I think I’ve figured a few things out.

    First, as to my defense of the ‘material change’ thing:

    1) Look, if it were up to me, no one would have mentioned it in the first place, but my feeling is, and has always been, okay, since this little piece of crap has been dropped, it’s probably best to deal with it. I wouldn’t have touched it, even, if it hadn’t been being dismissed all over the place. Since what I was seeing in comments was a whole lot of pretending that it was just ridiculous (which has its own connotations, none of which are pretty), I got riled up, because:

    2) I believe that hand-waving arguments and statements that I don’t like is not only bad tactics, but deeply silly. When one refuses to acknowledge the validity of an argument that one doesn’t like, it amounts to LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU, and it given permission to others to do the same to one’s own arguments. I’m not down with that, even when it causes me grief in my personal life to have to deal with shit that I’d rather not. The only way to properly take down an argument is to either show it to be fallacious, or (as in this case) admit to the validity of it, and then put it into the structure of reality, where it can be shown to be immaterial. This is how I roll. Should have stated more strenuously in that post, that this is the case, I guess. I’m still not sure that would have made a difference, though.

    3) What I was reacting to was this off-hand dismissal of a thing that’s clearly a real thing, as not a real thing, coupled with all that ‘gender doesn’t matter’ stuff. Put them together, and what I heard there was that non-transitioning partners have no right to feel any kind of confusion or anger or anything that isn’t 100% support 100% of the time, or even that anything has changed and that clearly, only lack of sexual attraction matters in the decision to divorce (which admission came eventually, but incredibly grudgingly), and there can be no subtlety. It felt very erasing of the fact that non-transitioning partners are dealing with their whole lives being changed around them, through no active decision of their own. I’m not now, and wasn’t then, advocating some kind of fault on the transitioning partner, nor was or am I saying in any way at all that the transitioning partner isn’t dealing with the far worse end of that stick, though that’s clearly how that was being read. I just didn’t like the apparent implication that one person’s stuff shouldn’t affect the people around them at all. Seriously, not blaming one person for a thing isn’t automatically blaming another.

    For the record: I recognise that this was not what anyone was trying to say. I can’t say that I was so rational about that yesterday, but it triggered a lot of shit for me, the way I understood it at the time.

    That said, I think I’ve figured out what might have caused that misreading. I wrapped the argument in the language of consent. Now, there are reasons that I did that, and I still consider it valid, but in this space and for this discussion, it wasn’t valuable (yes, I can and do apply these things to myself as well), and added nothing to the discussion, while causing grief. I think that the end result was that people read ‘_violation_ of consent’ from that, and (rightly) extrapolated to fault, since one can hardly violate consent without fault. That kind of violent image and atmosphere wasn’t what I meant, and the words I used didn’t accurately enough reflect what I did mean. I did read over it again, though, and except for that one issue (which was oversight rather than malice), I was very careful to use value-neutral language because I wanted to avoid being misread. I misjudged, obviously. Poorly done, Valoniel. And so, for that, I apologise profusely and at large.

    Since this is getting very long, I’ll just address one more thing. When I used the words ‘fault-required divorce’, I was speaking about legal standards, and used that term in opposition to the term ‘no-fault divorce’. That language isn’t mine, and I can’t really do anything with it, except to point out that I was, once again, not assigning fault. Believe me, I’ve been in enough suck-ass situations where no one was to blame, to know.

    There’s other stuff I’d like to address, but I honestly don’t think that’ll get me anywhere, and continuing at this point is just going to come off defensive. In keeping with my previous statement about acknowledging things, if anyone has anything to say, please feel free. I’d be grateful for information about anything that anyone else saw and/or anything else that I should consider or address.

  43. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca December 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm |

    Hey everybody. . .I just read all your comments in response to me. I want to thank you for all your well wishes and kind thoughts regarding me coming out to my extended family. It means a lot to me. Also, thanks to Donna and Mac for sharing your personal experiences on these topics. The letter idea is a good one that hadn’t really occurred to me before, and I’ve decided to write a letter to some of my family members actually! So I’m really indebted to you for that.

    Donna, it’s definitely interesting reading about your personal experiences transition. I can relate to a lot of that. Valoniel, no hard feelings about anything, and I completely accept your apology! I recognize I was heated, too, and I also wasn’t communicating very effectively. At this point though, I’m pretty much done with discussing the OP and issues related to it.

    Thanks again y’all.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L December 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

      Good to see you around again, Becca.


      At this point though, I’m pretty much done with discussing the OP and issues related to it.

      I know what you mean. This was some thread. Yikes!

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