Monday, July 30, 2007

Trans Partner Advocacy

Recently on the mHB message boards, the partner of someone who was transitioning posted about her very last day with her male husband. She was sad, she was mourning, and she was feeling both loss & resentment.

Sometimes the larger trans community seems to view feelings like that as anti-trans; that a partner isn’t throwing the big coming out party for her transitioning companion is seen as less than enthusiastic, and the difficult feelings are interpreted as saying ‘trans is bad.’

But the thing is, it’s part of the gig. There’s a lot of change involved in transition, which every trans person with half a brain admits. I mean, that’s the point. Change is a difficult thing for most people - all people, really - and it is stressful even when the change is a good thing, like getting a better job or getting married or having a baby that you’ve long wanted.

But to miss the old, worse job, or thinking fondly about the time when you were single or childfree, doesn’t mean you don’t want the new change in your life. You do. But you can’t just tell your mind not to think about how it once was, either.

& Sometimes I think that’s what’s expected of partners, that we never have a time to say, “I did love him as a man.” We can’t admit that we liked the cocky or shy guy we first fell in love with, & the partners of FTMs aren’t supposed to mourn the loss of breasts and smooth cheeks that they loved to touch.

But the thing is, as any trans person should know, repressing a feeling of loss or sadness is really bad all around; repression poisons the groundwater, in effect, and everyone feels it. So while I don’t advise partners make themselves miserable longing for the past (just as I wouldn’t advise trans people to think the future will definitely be rosy simply because they’ll transition), expressing the more difficult feelings associated with transition is healthier, in my opinion, in the long run. Not easy to hear as the trans person, for sure, but from what I hear from same trans people, they too may need some time to mourn the loss of their own former self.

3 comments:

'Kenna said...

Truth. Many life transitions require mourning, even "happy" transitions, such as a child marrying, or going off to college. There is the public celebration punctuated by rituals, such as at a wedding. Retirement transitions have the retirement party. But a gender transition has none of that.

With respect to gender transitions, I've heard them referred to as ambiguous losses. Like the loss of someone missing in action, there is no formal mourning period, no public mourning. There is no "body" to mourn over. The spouse left behind has nothing.

danmouer said...

Helen's got that one right, for sure! It always amazes me when I hear about a trans complaining that their partner is unsupoportive or unsympathetic just because they have ANY qualms or reservations or regrets about transition.

SOmetimes we just need to remind our sweeties that they are partnered up with genuine saints! LOL!!!

Marti said...

"Helen's got that one right, for sure! It always amazes me when I hear about a trans complaining that their partner is unsupoportive or unsympathetic just because they have ANY qualms or reservations or regrets about transition."

I've seen this from both sides. I think that typically people are complaining as a way of coping with some of the destruction they are causing. Doesn't make it right, but it is understandable.