During the past day, I’ve come across two blogs that just absolutely broke my heart, but for completey different reasons.
Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, wrote a beautiful post about her and her wife’s 13th wedding anniversary. In the piece, she discusses the challenges that come with trying to make a relationship survive gender transition.
[blockquote source=”Helen Boyd”]
“Anyone who thinks it isn’t difficult to survive a transition can stick it. It is. It’s about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and we two had a surfeit of love to start with. But the inherent narcissism of the thing caused her to disappear some, to focus more on the “me” than on the “us”, and that pretty much caused me to do the same in turn. As with other couples who wind up in situations that are full of one-sided caretaking, it can take a long time to get things righted, back into balance. And sometimes there’s a lot of anger and resentment and frustration while you’re trying to do that.
My wife is a beautiful woman. That I prefer to be around people who understand I chose to marry a man and will always carry some sadness about that loss seems obvious. For many people – heterosexual people, for the most part – they just see one queer couple as if they are like any other queer couple. We are still together and still happy so that’s that, right? Yeah, no. When a lesbian marries the woman she loves, she gets to be who she is and be with who she loves. And when a straight woman unwittingly marries a woman, she doesn’t. She get to be with who she loves – albeit in a slightly different form – but she really doesn’t get to be who she is. I feel lucky to have been queer enough to pull this off, but not a week goes by that I don’t miss the man I married. I loved him, after all. I married him. And I’m glad this 2.0 version was enough to keep the soul of that person in the world so I could share my life with her.
I assume I feel a lot like people who mourn the death of a loved one very deeply, who stay sad for years and years. I know you’re out there. For some, even the loss of a pet can be sad forever, and who knows why, or why we bond so deeply with some things and not with others, or why we have a hard time adjusting to some changes and not others. I am not good with change; I never have been. My hair, yes. My life, who I love, where I live, what I eat? About those things I am about as conservative as a person can get. I want the familiar; I want what feels like home.”[/blockquote]
I broke into tears. Unlike her, I was on the opposite side of the transition equation, finding myself in a position where I felt as though I was sabotaging my relationship with a woman I truly loved.
Like Helen, my ex found herself faced with the question of whether it was even possible for her to date — much less love — a woman. She really did try — that I know for certain. Nearly two years of struggle, challenges, and just a general falling out of love ensued. In January of this year, she broke up with me.
Love alone often isn’t enough. In pictures of the two of us before I came out to her as trans, my eyes had a certain “deadness” to them, even when I was smiling or seemed otherwise happy. As time went on, as the deadness left my own eyes, I began to see it enter hers.
It seemed as though she felt trapped in the relationship. As I began to feel better about myself, she began to fall apart.
The entire experience was just absolutely heartbreaking for both of us. In a way, I took away the person she loved, the person she thought she had started dating. I took away the person who had spent hours discussing her future with; the person she thought she’d grow old with.
I did that. I hate myself for that. I blame myself for that.
Some people can make it through this as a couple, and others can’t. It’s really as simple as that. As in any relationship, sometimes people just grow incompatible with one another.
I messaged Helen to tell her how her blog post had impacted me. I wanted to show the transfer of life and death in my eyes, and so I sent her a “before” picture of me, as after I came out, my ex and I rarely took any pictures together.
“Yeah,” I wrote to her. “Obviously, it makes me feel uncomfortable to look at pictures of me from before, but it’s the only way I can see us.”
My heart ached.
Then this morning, I read another story, posted over at Huffington Post, framed as a story about a lesbian couple in which one half legally transitioned genders as a means to get married.
[blockquote source=”Huffington Post”]”Christine’s wife, Jacki, first saw her on ‘The Oprah Show.’ ‘When the camera panned over to her, my initial response was, ‘Oh, my God. That woman’s beautiful,” Jacki recalls. ‘I would have never thought she was a lesbian if I saw her walking the streets.’
After running into each other several times, the two began dating. Christine says she fell in love with Jacki’s authenticity and proposed to her three years ago. The women were looking forward to being married, but there was a big problem: During the time they were engaged, gay marriage was not legal in their state of California.
‘Even though we were fighting a good fight, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about it,’ Christine admits.
That’s when Jacki discovered a loophole.
‘I started looking into transgender. In the eyes of the courts, if I were to have my gender changed to male, just like that, she gets my Social Security, she gets my pension,’ Jacki says.
So, Jacki elected to have a double mastectomy. In April 2013, she officially changed her sex to ‘male’ on her birth certificate. She and Christine soon married and just celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary last month.
‘I was so overwhelmed that somebody would do such a thing,’ Christine says of Jacki’s selflessness. ‘It was the biggest act of love anyone’s ever done for me.'”[/blockquote]
Upon first reading, my blood began to boil.
The fact that one of the people involved was “looking into transgender” as a “loophole” shows how little respect they have for people who actually are transgender. The piece, currently posted at HuffPost Gay Voices (shock, right? *rolls eyes*) has already accumulated thousands of Facebook likes.
“Love conquers all,” one user commented.
“This is beautiful!” said another.
Let’s read into this, again. “If I were to have my gender changed to male, just like that, she gets my Social Security, she gets my pension.”
Love? Really? That’s the reason you’re doing this? Doesn’t seem like it.
Also, the story notes that in June they had their 1 year wedding anniversary. Do you know what else happened in June of last year? Prop 8 got thrown out by the Supreme Court, DOMA was struck down, and the two of them could have gotten married, anyway.
The whole thing reeks of either unintelligent ignorance (a cisgender person supposedly undergoing major surgery so they could be seen as a man in the eyes of the courts — when really, the courts had JUST RULED that they could have been married as two women) or what I think is more likely the case: this person actually is trans, and this narrative is being distorted a bit to make for better TV.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone felt as though they needed to justify being trans by attributing it to some external event.
Stung by a bee, amnesia, and now “I did it for love” are all excused people have put forth as reasons they transitioned, picked up by the media and used to make trans people seem like absurd caricatures of human beings.
To make such a mockery of what it’s like to be in a relationship that involves gender transition, to treat this scenario as some lighthearted, “I did it for love!” moment, makes me absolutely sick, as I know how hard it is to make a relationship survive transition, even though I failed.
Whether these are two cisgender individuals who took extreme steps to get married or this is the story of one transgender person who feels the need to justify their transition with a wacky story, I’m ashamed of them.
My heart sinks just thinking about it.
Update: It appears that Jacki does identify as a woman, and really was just “looking into transgender” as a “loophole;” at least that’s what her Facebook profile would indicate. Well, Jacki, congrats on exploiting trans people for your own personal gain.