I’m so happy to have another resource for “partners of,” the new book “Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge & Resilience,” edited by Jordon Johnson and Becky Garrison, published by Transgress Press. (My Boston Globe piece was reprinted here, with an epilogue from 2014.)
Not surprisingly, love is at the core. But what really struck me, and what I find interesting about my own story, is how many people who feel some gender/sexual preference fluidity, whether they realized it or not, ended up with like-feeling people. How the heck do we find each other? One couple even married as woman and man and ended up as man and woman. Several straight-identified ciswomen (women born that way) fell in love with women, who became transmen. It’s uncanny what we sense.
But … not all of us. Which is why, while I will certainly recommend this book to others, I think it might freak out the typical women who write to me because perhaps they won’t see much of a reflection of themselves in this book. Also, it’s heavy on the F-to-M side, which is fine but raises different issues (and similar ones too, of course). My blog and articles attract straight women between 30 and 60 who had no idea their husband wanted to be a woman or knew only a bit about it and then, BAM.
They look to me and other women who have stayed with transitioned partners and want to know, “how, how did you do it?” And, more importantly, “can I do it too”? They have never thought of gender as non-binary. Frankly, that notion challenges me even though I know it to be true, have my own fluidity about preference, and fully support the notion/science/feeling. But it makes me squirm in my seat a little.
Anyway, here’s what I always say to these women, and in fact here’s part of an email exchange I sent just today with someone I’d corresponded with earlier:
From the “wife of”:
When I first found out and started to research all I could find was that the marriage did not survive ultimately. That is my fear. But then I came across your article and it made me feel like there is a chance that if your marriage survived mine could too. If you don’t mind me asking how did your marriage survive?”
Look at the articles in my website and you’ll see my feelings of how my marriage survived. Also look at the resources — they’ll lead you to many stories and resources. Some marriages survive and most don’t. It’s really what works right for YOU. And it’s also a process. Your feelings will change over time, sometimes a few times a day! It’s such a personal decision based on different variables that that is the best answer I can give! I hope it helps.
Back to what my readers can get from “Love, Always”: I’d send them to Leslie Fabian’s essay, which includes a great tips sheet that focuses on maturity, empathy, being vulnerable and taking care of one’s self. That is so critical. Which is why I tell every “wife of” that she is as important as the transitioning person, even more important because it’s HER life.
Most essays in the book are either uplifting or exploratory and all very real. One, from my perspective, made me sad. One “wife of” had this to say about her marriage to “Dez,” who was starting to move from cross-dressing to transitioning when she basically asked him to stop: “The only thing I can say is that I have set boundaries and Dez has complied and appears to be very happy.” It would not be my advice. Then again, I’m being judgmental and what I LOVE about this book is pretty much every experience is laid bare, and who the heck am I to judge any of them? Yuck. Ugh. Stop it, Diane.
Buy the book, read the book, and be reminded that we partners have needs as crucial as those transitioning, and that we humans are not only a rainbow of tastes, we are a box of 64, plus. In the end, we still have more in common as human beings than anything else. Let us do our best to keep our minds and hearts open!