Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Little More Information

I'm going to try to answer the rest of your questions as best I can.  Please forgive the question/answer format, but it was just easier that way. 

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Q:  How does it feel for you to write about Mr. FW as "he" even when discussing events that happened pre-transition.  (For example, you wrote about your first date with him, not her.)  Does it feel like you are rewriting your own past?

A:  This is a really good question and an issue that can sometimes be a challenge for me.  I used to do more of the whole, "Mr. FW, well back then it was Ms. FW, she did blah blah blah" but that got really long-winded.  Plus it's difficult for me to go back and forth with pronouns and it's difficult for the listener to follow who I'm talking about.  At this point I probably refer to Mr. FW, past and present, almost exclusively as male unless his female gender is related to the story I'm telling.  Since nearly all of the people in our lives know that Mr. FW is trans, I don't typically have concerns that I'm hiding or re-writing anything.  That's probably part of why it's so important for me to tell the truth about my life and our history. 

Q:  Are the people close to you and your FI open to talking about his former female identity, or is it more important to him that others leave that to the past?

A:  Mr. FW is very open to it and the people in our life do bring it up from time to time, although I think there's always a pang of sadness for him at the reminder that he hasn't always been male.

Q:  What qualified Mr. FW to be legally be a man?  Was it the hormone therapy, the surgery, or a mix of both?

A:  For Mr. FW it was the surgery.  In general, a trans person needs a doctor's attestation that they've had an 'irreversible medical procedure' in order to legally change their gender.

Q:  Did Mr. FW's training as a psychologist enable him to understand himself and his desire to transition to a man any better?

A:  This is sort of like a 'chicken or the egg' question.  I'm going to guess that it was Mr. FW's interest in and capacity for introspection that led him to the field of psychology, and it's the introspection that helped him with his transition rather than anything specific to his study of psychology (although I'm sure it didn't hurt). 

Q:  Will you have to give Mr. FW the testosterone injections forever?

A:  There are many factors that go into this equation, but the short answer is yes.  After some time he may be able to reduce his doseage and/or the frequency of injections. 

Q:  Is it harder to identify with Mr. FW now that he's a man?  Did it ever feel like you were with a new person?

A:  Honestly, no.  For the entirety of our relationship Mr. FW has always been very stereotypically masculine in terms of his interests and hobbies.  He has a very male energy, and that's probably one of the things that attracted me to him.  But because he was brought up as a female, he also has many of the female socialization traits that are essential for me to have the kind of connection with him that I do.

Q:  Does Mr. FW feel relieved to be seen as part of a heterosexual couple, since he identified all along as beng a male attracted to females?  As you feel you lost part of your identity, does he feel he's been able to "reclaim" some of his, so to speak?

A:  Certainly this process has been all about him being able to reclaim part of his identity.  I asked him this question and I was surprised that he said yes, he does feel somewhat relieved to be seen as part of a heterosexual couple now.  He said he thinks it's because he's been visibly queer all of his life, so a heterosexual relationship affirms what was a previously invisible part of his identity.  For me, it was the other way around.  Because I'm feminine-appearing, I've never been visibly queer outside of a lesbian relationship.  To the extent that people previously seeing us as a lesbian couple would reaffirm his female-ness, being part of a heterosexual couple now affirms his male-ness. 

Q:  I was wondering if you found other couples treating you differently, both those that you knew before the transition and those that you continue to meet as the change occurs?

A:  Yes and no.  I think our friends pretty much treat us the same.  (Although something funny that's begun to happen is that friends will 'forget' we can't get pregnant naturally.  Ha!)  Family members seems to relate to us well as a male/female couple preparing to get married.  It makes me curious how they would have reacted if we were still a female/female couple, but I guess I'll never know.  And obviously in larger society heterosexual couples are just treated very differently than are lesbian couples.

Q:  Was Mr. FW's weight change purely hormonal?

A:  He wishes!  No, he was working hard to get healthier and he's done a really good job with it so far.

Q:  It has always appeared to me that switching genders enforces the typical and traditional stereotypes of male and female, which is something that bothers me.  Is this actually true?

A:  There's obviously some correlation between having stereotypically cross-gender interests and potentially being more inclined towards a trans identity.  That said, there are just as many ways to be transgender as there are to be male or female.  I think transitioning does reinforce stereotypes, but it does so in the same way that entering into normative heterosexual marriage reinforces stereotypes.  A person (or people) might look traditional and/or stereotypical from the outside but it doesn't have to be that way on the inside if you don't want it to be.  You might be a traditional couple with stereotypical gender roles (or a traditional man with stereotypically male interests), or you could be something else altogether.  Just like many other heterosexual couples we reinforce stereotypical gender roles in some ways (I take longer to get ready in the morning, Mr. FW likes to watch sports, and it's his job to take out the trash) and we don't in other ways (Mr. FW does the laundry, I manage all our finances, and he has a much stronger interest in staying at home with children than I do). 

Many of you asked about our feelings regarding getting legally married when so many other LGBT couples cannot, and because that's such a complicated and delicate question I will dedicate a separate post to that topic later.

And thus ends my class on trans issues as they pertain to our relationship.  :-)  Whew!  Did you make it this far?  Now it's share time!  Tell me - in what ways do you and your partner reinforce and defy traditions and stereotypes in your relationship?

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