1ngi: (looks a *bit* like me)
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posted by [personal profile] 1ngi at 01:48am on 19/05/2014 under , , ,
I read this post today on Helen Boyd's blog about 'Advice to a Wife.

While you can't really give out check lists about wether or not to stay or leave a relationship, I thought it was worth writing down my own points that helped me answer the question. I'm putting it here because the site is mainting my comment is spammy (prob coz it's so long) and I emailed it to Helen in case it is of any use at all.

I offer this up as stuff I'm trying to take on board for myself as my OH and I go through this journey. Some days it's them and me against the world and other times we're both frightened and isolated and disconnected from each other. Some of it I'm brilliant at, some of it I know is really important but I'm really bad at it. I have good days and bad days. There is lot's more to say but I think these are the things that have helped/helping me with the 'Stay or Go?' question.

Should I stay or should I go?
If you partner tells you they are transgender and you decide to leave now, then that's it, it's over. If you stay, it might still be over, *but it might not!* If you love each other, there is only one way to find out - stay, be there for each other, pool your resources, set yourselves up to succeed in the best way you can with whatever resources you have and maybe you'll still have each other. Which would be awesome.

Forgive them.
Some partners ask "Why did my OH lie to me?" They didn't. It wasn't a betrayal. Either they were kidding themselves or they just didn't understand who they really are. Many trans people spend years over compensating by being a so-called 'proper' man or woman in the hope that the trans stuff will get weaker and magically disappear. In a harsh cis-gendered world the stakes for being trans are crushingly high and you hear about people losing their jobs, their loved ones and even their lives every week. We are all insecure, worried if we are worthy of love, imagine how much worse that is going to be for the trans person who is trying to face up to their own truth. The biggest fear they have is if they tell you, their beloved, you might stop loving them. You might run and take the kids. Your OH needs your compassion now more than ever.

(One thing need to be pointed out here - out of self-preservation, your OH may have spent a life-time being consciously or unconsciously covert and they need to learn how to stop doing that and they have to start with you. If they are not disclosing stuff that you need to know for your own well being, that's not ok and needs talking about.)

Acknowledge your own internalised transphobia.
You *will* have some. Stare at it. Read about it. Work out where you got it from. It's not your partner who makes you feel like this - society did this to both of you and you need to separate the transphobia from the stuff happening to both of you as a couple. Educating yourself will help both of you. It will also give you the words you need to deal with other peoples' stupid comments - because you've grown through it, you can help them grow too. I'm not suggesting you go on a campaign, you need to chose your battles - your nearest and dearest are the ones you are hoping to take with you on this journey.

Accept your partner for who they are.
You can't change this. It's your reality now too. Honour their identity. The sooner you can do this, the clearer everything will be for you and help you work out what you want to do.

Sexuality. Put all your cards on the table.
I'm bisexual and I was bi-identified before I met my partner which means the only real worry I've had was a sudden fear my OH would take after my mother-in-law (while she is lovely, I don't actually have a thing for her!).
If you don't consider yourself bi you have been aware of some grey edges around your heterosexuality - could that dove-tail with your parnter ? Some trans-partners describe their sexuality as '[name-of-partner]-sexual' and can find themselves adapting.

If you're very hetero it is much harder. Your sexuality is just as important as your partners, and it's worth saying that for some people this could be the deal breaker and it's not your fault. It's heartbreaking to have to come to terms with such a serious incompatibility. It doesn't always mean that the relationship has to be over - many marriages evolve into happy comfortable companionships anyway, was your marriage looking like one of these - would you be content if it was? You could consider having an open relationship so that physical and emotional needs can still be met. But if you know deep down that all of this is non-negotiable then both of you accepting that as soon as you can is really the only way. It is very sad, and not your fault. Your partner has to accept you for who you are too.

(N.B. As transition treatment progresses, you will have to answer a similar question concerning sex-drive if things change in that direction. Again, I think it's about what your own needs are and honouring them.)

You must both invest in you.
If your partner is transitioning you are both going to be investing heavily in them - you are embarking on a 'project' that's going to take several years to come to fruition. It could be 2 years, it could be 5. Enough to study for a degree or retrain in something new or write that novel. I don't believe that a trans-partner has to put their life on hold while their partner transitions - in fact, getting involved deeper into you will support you both. It will give you something to throw yourself into when you are feeling lost, it will show your partner you both deserve to be nurtured and if things should not work out, you have something of your own that will sustain you.

My partner's transition is taking place while I hit the perimenopause. Their oestrogen is going up while my body is start to shut production of it down. The irony is not lost on me at all. So I'm having new clothes and new haircuts too. If you love massages, get some. If you are a book worm, go luxuriate in the library, give yourself permission to read more. They're going through a transition, you can have a renaissance.

There is so much more to say but that's my very sketchy proto-checklist that might help a small amount if one is strugging with the 'stay or go?' question.

Pick your confidantes
Find the people who can talk to. Friends, online support groups. You will have to help educate people to a certain degree. It's tiring to go through Trans 101 before you can have your cry so perhaps zone in on your more liberal friends. And be prepared to discover who your real friends are. That hurts. Really hurts. But you're going to be better off without them in the long run.

Be tender with each other
Comfort in dump out - there's a great explanation of this here. It does't mean you can't wail at your OH coz they are being douche. Just try not to wail at them when they are in pain and crying. Don't dump on them about the injustice of it all - they can't walk away from trans stuff like you can. By the same token, your partner needs to not dump on you when you are finding this all hard - change is really scary.

Have as much individual and couple counselling as you can lay your hands on/afford.
Transitioning is going to throw ALL the un-dealt with stuff in your relationship right to the fore. I don't actually believe that its really trans stuff that does for relationships, it's the other crap, the communication difficulties. And then trans stuff can become that straw that breaks everything.

It's worth trying to find counsellors, even if they aren't gender specialists, if they are worth their salt they should be able to help with the communication basics, which is worth a lot. And if they make trans things an issue, find another counsellor.

Watch out for your own internalised sexism.
One of the things I find interesting is that as my partner transitions I am aware that I am way more resentful of their lack of perception regarding houswork. The mutinous bit of my brain thinks crap like 'well if you want to be more feminine, then why do I have to be the one who launders the towels all the damn time?'. Which requires some unpacking - firstly I still have to lose the whole idea that laundry is women's work. And why didn't bring it up before - what the hell? If there is unfairness in household chores, that needs addressing - if you are standing up to your elbows in the kitchen sink, seething while your partner is painting their toenails it's time to speak up! You have agree to share the chores equally together and then perhaps you'll both have time to paint toenails. Or whatever works for you. It's amazing to me how much I haven't spoken up in this area because of our assumed gender roles.

You're allowed to cry.
I've cried for the lost things. For the lost future and for the past that wasn't actually the reality we thought it was. For the fear that the coming change will defeat us and leave us lost without comfort. This is the area I think  some trans people find the hardest to understand about their spouses - even the spouses that want to stay and support. Fear of the unknown is completely normal, and grieving about things is normal too.

There is so much more to say but that's my very sketchy proto-checklist that might help a small amount if one is strugging with the 'stay or go?' question.

There are 6 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
 
posted by [identity profile] z3na.livejournal.com at 05:12am on 19/05/2014
Xxxxxx + hugs
 
posted by [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com at 06:14am on 19/05/2014
*hugs* Excellent post
 
posted by [identity profile] fwuffydragon.livejournal.com at 07:15am on 19/05/2014
Really well written. *huuuuuuuuuuuuuugs*
rmc28: Rachel, in running tshirt and leggings, holding phone and smiling into mirror (runner5)
posted by [personal profile] rmc28 at 09:05am on 19/05/2014
*all the love*
 
posted by [identity profile] crazyscot.livejournal.com at 05:57am on 20/05/2014
*sends hugs and inner strength*
ailbhe: (ailbhe 29y6m)
posted by [personal profile] ailbhe at 12:23pm on 22/05/2014
Oh, that's very good. Thank you.

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