Please Don’t Thank Me for Loving My Wife

I write about radical issues for mainstream publishers, so, in addition to dancing around to put LGBT issues in cis-straight-friendly terms, I face a mile-high stack of hate mail on a daily basis. My wife is transgender, and, according to the angry mobs of keyboard warriors, this means that I am a pervert, that we are both going to Hell, and that we are guilty of abuse for raising a child together. But through all the negative comments, hateful emails, and long-distance threats, I get an occasional positive message, and it’s almost always, uncomfortably, “Thank you.”

Many, many people thank me for being with my wife, for accepting her the way she is, and for being “brave” enough to accompany her through the not-so-pleasant aspects of being trans in America. I get two or three emails a week from trans* people thanking me for loving my wife, telling me that they hope they can someday find partners as “wonderful” and “accepting” as I am. I’ve gotten several near-identical emails from my readers who playfully ask, “Can I clone you?” or “Do you happen to have a sister who’s just like you?”

This doesn’t just happen online, but in the real world, too. We were once leaving a local transgender support group when a shy, nervous-looking woman who was there quietly asked for my phone number. The next day, she called me in tears telling me about her own wife, who left her and received full custody of their three children after she came out of the closet. She told me she “couldn’t thank me enough” for being with my wife, because seeing our relationship assured her that love and happiness can happen even to “people like us.” She turned out to be the first of now five people from the support group who have stopped to personally thank me for my relationship. It’s a sign that something is seriously wrong when there are people who feel so hopeless, and so unloved, that they feel that they owe me gratitude just for loving someone “like them.”

I can understand why it is that many transwomen feel a need to personally thank me. When society constantly tells you that you’re not worthy of having the kind of healthy, loving relationships that cisgender people take for granted– when the media tells you that your body and identity are the subject of fetishism at best and disgust at worst– I understand how it could be easy to forget that you, too, are a human being, and that you,
too, deserve to be loved exactly as you are. Transphobia is so rampant in every aspect of our culture that it seems that many trans people have internalized self-hatred to the point that they have given up on all hope of love.

I’m obviously failing, somehow, to make it clear that my marriage is no charity project. My wife is not a mangy stray puppy I decided to feed, or a soap-opera character who needed a manic pixie dream girl to save her from her own tragedy. She is the love of my life. So maybe it’s time for me to make a few things clear. If anyone is owed gratitude for being in this relationship, it’s my wife.

I happened to be blessed with a body that matches my identity, but I am not without my share of struggles, and those struggles taint everything about my life—including my marriage. I am a survivor of child abuse, rape, and spousal abuse. I have an extremely severe panic disorder, along with an icky case of PTSD. I’m a wreck. The cost of my therapy and medications have eaten into the savings that we should be setting aside for my wife’s transition, but even with all the treatment in the world, I’m still not an easy person to be with. I have trust issues. I periodically develop bizarre, unreasonable delusions that my wife is cheating on me, or that she is going to hit me, or that she’s going to rape me. I’m prone to inconsolable, unpredictable panic attacks in which I can’t speak and can barely breathe.

I have a conservative family that despises me for being queer and voting for a “Muslim” president. My wife’s family hates me just as much as my own family does. I came into this relationship with a daughter who, while wonderful and bright and funny, is a financial and emotional burden that most people would not have been willing to accept. I’m too thin. I have unattractive breasts. I’m bad with money.

I’m an ally, but I’m also an asshole. I say unintentionally transphobic things sometimes. I’m uncomfortable around men, and I can’t always shut off the part of the skittish, bigoted part of my brain that thinks my wife is a man. I’m selfishly concerned with the effects that HRT might have on our sex life. I’ve been embarrassed when someone has stared at us in public. I sometimes get annoyed by how long it takes my wife to get rid of her body hair and to put on all her makeup, ignoring that it’s only because I have cis privilege that I can walk out of the house looking exactly as I did when I rolled out of bed, and not be called a freak for it. I try to be the best trans ally I can be, but I’m not perfect—not perfect at all.

If she wanted to, my wife could have found someone better than me. Someone who was more understanding, less insecure, and mentally healthier. Someone who wasn’t triggered by things she can’t help having attached to her body, like a penis and chest hair. Someone who didn’t come into the relationship wielding a toddler to whom she would have to pledge the next fifteen years of her life. Someone with a better family, where words like “faggot” and “n*gger” aren’t passed over the Thanksgiving dinner table like gravy and salt-shakers. If anything, my wife is the one who has had to make very serious sacrifices to be with me.

That’s the funny thing about real love, though. I’m not the first to make this observation, but it is never a fairy tale. It’s never a story in which two wealthy, healthy, perfect people fall madly in love and go on to have their flawless Happily Ever After. It’s also never a story about one perfect person choosing to love a broken individual out of altruism. Love—real love— is invariably the story of two troubled people who understand and accept each other’s troubles, but choose to face them together.

When I said “I do” to my wife, her beautiful brown eyes beaming and her delicate hand clasped in mine under a rainbow of ribbons, I was making the same promise that every other married person has made: the promise to love her, to be faithful to her, to share my life with her, and to be there when she needs me. It’s the exact same promise that she made to me.

My devotion to my wife was not an act of charity or heroism. She is not the one-eyed cat at the shelter that no one else wanted, or the bird with the broken wing that needed to be nurtured back to health. She is my wife, and she is there for me just as much as I am there for her. We are both people with a lot serious challenges to face, and we chose to confront those challenges as a team. That’s not heroism. It’s love.



Genevra Reid
is a freelance writer, LGBT activist, angry feminist, and dedicated mommy to a bad-ass five-year-old girl. When she’s not busy writing, parenting, and inhabiting the nightmares of conservatives, she can usually be found snuggling with her wife, dog, kid, and/or cat.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” column exists for individual queer ladies to tell their own personal stories and share compelling experiences. These personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

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Genevra Reid is a writer and activist who asks herself every day why she still lives in the South. She's happily married to a fellow queer writer, and together they have a super-cool six-year-old daughter (and a son on the way!).

Genevra has written 2 articles for us.

84 Comments

  1. Thumb up 57

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    “Love—real love— is invariably the story of two troubled people who understand and accept each other’s troubles, but choose to face them together.”

    That got me. Thank you, not for loving your wife but for writing this.

  2. Thumb up 31

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    Thank you. As someone in a long-term primary relationship with a trans* woman, and who also is dealing with a lot of personal mental health issues, I so feel you.

    My girlfriend has gone through a lot of hardship and abuse in her life. It broke my heart to hear that I am the first functional, healthy relationship she’s had (and we have a lot of shit to deal with!). Like you, I didn’t get together with her as some sort of charity case; I got together with her because we can hold a fun conversation and find comfort in each other’s heart and make injokes about math and love and her appreciation of my Malaysian culture has made me appreciate mine more and all sorts of things that aren’t directly related to our genders.

    I was really confronted with my own internalised transphobia from the very beginning of our relationship; I’m still surprised she didn’t ditch me for it! And it’s not even the big things like “zomg you are really a MAN” that trip me up – it’s smaller things that I don’t realise are problematic until I think of them more or see them interact with my girlfriend and go “oh shit”. Stuff I’ve had the privilege to not even really consider.

    I could see her writing the flipside of the article: being thanked for dating a queer woman of colour, dating an immigrant, dating someone who has to deal with a lot of mental health issues, supporting them as they try to figure out financial and practical resources in an alien country, etc etc. (Though I don’t think she gets thanked for that, except from me maybe) Things about me that make our relationship difficult. But there are things about both of us, related and unrelated to our genders, that make our relationship easy and difficult and interesting and challenging and fun.

    I don’t think anyone’s ever thanked me for dating a trans* woman per se. I have sought out support groups to talk about things specific to dating trans* people (such as how to support them during transition) but I also sometimes feel weird talking about it because it feels like I’m trying to claim some sort of credit or oppression. “Poor me, being a trans* woman’s girlfriend is SOOOO HARD” – well it is, but not really harder than actually *being* a trans* woman. So I appreciate pieces and spaces like these because it’s an opportunity to chat and share stories and get support amongst people who can relate first-hand.

    So yes. Thank you, not necessarily for dating a trans* woman, but for talking about it and letting us share.

      • Thumb up 4

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        Aw thanks! That means a lot to me.

        not-so-shameless plug: I’m working on bringing her to Malaysia (my home country) for Christmas. She’s never been outside the US but has taken on Malaysian culture with such enthusiasm that she’s made me appreciate my own culture more. Also anyone that can appreciate durian is A+ in my book.

        I’m collecting funds for a joint Christmas gift and also am looking for other avenues to secure a plane ticket for her. If you have any ideas, signal boosting, or resources (and this goes to the whole Autostraddle community) please do share!

        https://www.wepay.com/donations/899109298

    • Thumb up 7

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      “My girlfriend has gone through a lot of hardship and abuse in her life. It broke my heart to hear that I am the first functional, healthy relationship she’s had (and we have a lot of shit to deal with!).”
      This. I also am in a long-term relationship with a trans woman. We’re both survivors, struggle with mental health issues, and I’ve got an invisible disability she has been so supportive of. I’m also from a different culture that her respect for has really been amazing. I could copy-paste your paragraph about support groups as well; I know exactly where you’re coming from. If I can help in any non-monetary way (my medical expenses recently increased drastically) with your quest for a ticket, let me know. It sounds like y’all are lucky to have found each other. I know I consider myself so lucky to have found her!

    • Thumb up 1

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      Like I know I shouldn’t give out ‘decent person’ cookies but what about ‘great person’ cookies?

      ‘Cause I would totally make a batch for you. I don’t know you, but your comments are always such a fantastic breath of fresh air, and I’ve gotten to a point where, when I see your name in the comments on anything trans-related on Autostraddle, I rest easier. (No pressure though, haha!)

      So yeah, thank you; not for dating your girlfriend, or being a decent person, but for being such a wonderful presence in this community that even a stranger can recognize.

  3. Thumb up 20

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    One of my favorite essays I’ve seen at AS for a long time, yes, because of its honesty and how your relationship is not just about ‘cisperson with a transperson 101.’ I still wish I had a clearer view of your wife other than her being trans (and I think too often, for trans people, our assigned personality is… ‘oh them, they’re trans’). I’d like to know how she’s a pain in the ass (and loving and sexy) in her own unique ways other than ‘she has to do trans stuff’ or ‘she looks trans and people stare at us.’

    I can only speak for trans women (so this isn’t about GQ peeps or trans men) but for most being trans reduces your available dating pool to such a minute amount that it sometimes feels like your only choice is to be alone or to have someone who’s so damaged or insecure (or fetishistic) that they’ll even deign to be with you. It gets worse as you get older (as it does for all women). I know this a ‘woman on woman’ site, but I have to say it’s even more desperate for straight trans women. The vast majority of transitioned trans women I know (in all age groups) aren’t in relationships. My last long relationship was over 10 years ago (I had short one in 2009 which lasted about 5 months). Sometimes I feel like being straight is a curse for trans women, but I hear some of the same things from trans women who are lesbians. Every time I read something by gorgeous/passable trans writer Janet Mock about her hot boyfriend, there is inevitably a trail of responses by trans women practically groveling at her feet that she has such a relationship and that they’re permitted to read about it. It is sad, very sad. And, at the same time, a lot of trans people are often not easy to be with, have been through a lot of PTSD, profound insecurities, body hatred and internalized social messages of being unloveable or just ugly. Anyway, I’m really glad you found one another and seem supportive and attuned to each other’s realities. “The real thing’ isn’t just about love, it’s about accepting all of who your partner/lover is and isn’t.

    • Thumb up 20

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      :) Thanks for your comment. I’ve got lots of stuff to say about my wifey other than the fact that she’s trans! She’s an awesome mother. She has a great sense of humor. She kicks my butt in Super Smash Brothers but I can beat her in any puzzle game. She talks in her sleep every night and it’s always hilarious. She farts a lot and then giggles about it like a twelve-year-old. And also, she’s a brilliant writer and has her own AS article here: http://www.autostraddle.com/do-not-consume-psilocybin-mushrooms-while-trans-160295/

      (In which she identified me under the pseudonym “Willow” and didn’t fail to mention that I can be an unintentionally transphobic turd sometimes.) :)

      • Thumb up 2

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        I love both articles! It’s so interesting to see both sides. I read Willow’s article last spring and I think about it every few days as I grow into my own trans identity.

        And oh wow, does my wife needs to read your article. I came out to her as transgender last winter. We are working through our issues – she *is* super supportive and wonderful, but she still has a tendency to “speak for all women about how women really are” when our conversations get to the point where I am asking her to completely embrace me as a woman, that I’m not “both”, that I can’t continue to pretend to be “the man” anymore.

        One thing that scares us both is that since she has so little support from anyone my “male privilege” is a benefit that we are slightly hesitant to give up. That being said, men look at me and know immediately that I am “the lesser”. Any extended privileges are tenuous at best and come with constant male on male micro-agressions. Living a lie for such a tenuous benefit at the cost of my personal well-being is reaching a breaking point for me. I desperately want to be “me” everywhere, at all times, yet fear our lives completely falling apart once I lose the thin veneer of protection that male privilege provides our family.

        *sigh* There’s a lot to work through. Thanks for reading.

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    This is likely going to be an unpopular opinion, but I really don’t like this article. Here is why. The first paragraph is decent. It shows the author’s experiences with prejudice, both directed at her and her wife. It also lets the reader know that she sometimes has positive experiences with others about being queer, being with a transgender woman, and raising a child. The second paragraph is somewhat better than the first. It fleshes out the ideas of the first paragraph, while also tackling the common misconception that being transgender or being in a relationship with a transgender person is brave. The third paragraph is of a lower quality than the second. It continues the previous themes, but there is a mistake. When the author mentions that five people from the support group thanked her for being with her wife, she makes the incorrect assumption that transgender people are unloved and hopeless. The fourth paragraph includes more assumptions like the third. The author claims that she understands why transgender people would thank her. However, the author herself is not transgender. She derives their motivations not from an understanding of their personal experiences, but from what is typical in our culture. The author then reiterates the incorrect idea that transgender people as a whole feel hopeless and feel unlovable. The fifth paragraph explains that the author’s commitment to her wife is not out of altruism. It is a real commitment for both of them. She then says that her wife is really the one sacrificing more for the sake of the relationship. The sixth paragraph completely abandons this theme of sacrifice. Instead of telling us about the sacrifices her wife made, the author tells us about her gender identity, her history, and her mental health. It’s not that these details aren’t pertinent; it’s just that they are poorly placed in the article. The seventh paragraph adds more details about family and about insecurities. The same criticisms apply to this paragraph as to the last. The eighth paragraph is where my harshest criticism will be focused. The author says she is an ally, but then lists many examples of how she is transphobic. She says that she sometimes mentally misgenders her wife, is worried about the effects of HRT on their sex life, dislikes being stared at, and is annoyed when her wife takes too long when trying to look presentable. The author shows her lack of understanding about transgender experiences the most in this section. Misgendering a person even unintentionally or because your social conditioning, is prejudiced. If the author truly understood how important it is for transgender people to go through HRT, she would not have any reservations about her wife going through with it. Also, if she was more educated on the actual effects of HRT on the body, she wouldn’t be worried about it. When the author says that she dislikes being stared at, it feels like she is blaming her wife for being transgender. The worst of all of these statements is that she dislikes having to wait on her wife to get ready. If the author knew how not passing effects transgender people, she wouldn’t have said that. To not pass is to open oneself up to violence in many different forms. Including some of the things, like staring, that she mentioned before. So, it is as if her wife cannot do enough. If she takes too long so she won’t attract attention, then it is a nuisance. If she gets stared at because she didn’t take enough time, then it is bothersome. This section is so completely over-privileged in its tone, and it completely superfluous. The ninth paragraph explains how the author’s wife could be with somebody better. There is another unnecessary section focusing on how uncomfortable the author is with her wife’s body. The same criticisms apply here as to the last paragraph. The tenth and eleventh paragraphs are explanations of love. There isn’t much to criticize about these paragraphs. The last paragraph is about their relationship. The author says that her relationship with her wife isn’t an act of charity or altruism. That they truly love each other. That seems true enough, but considering the language the author used, she doesn’t love the part of her wife that is transgender. I apologize if this criticism is long and in need of editing, but it’s the best I could do at the moment. Also, I don’t want this to be taken as inflammatory or hurtful. It was just an honest critique of a problematic article that I didn’t like.

    • Thumb up 44

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      I get what you mean about the transphobia betraying her allyship, and how that doesn’t build a sense of trust. However, I feel like even the best allies have to deal with their internalised bigotry – not everyone is perfectly non-bigoted right off the bat. Sometimes you don’t even realise what will trip up your bigotry until you’re confronted with it.

      I feel like one of the strongest marks of an ally is not necessarily not being bigoted at all, but being willing to own and confront your own bigotry and recognise ways to change it.

    • Thumb up 34

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      First, Heather, I appreciate your feedback.

      I did not make any assumptions about what all trans people feel– only observed a sad phenomenon that has affected me. I know that there are trans people who DON’T feel unloved or unlovable, and that’s wonderful, but the fact is that we live in a world where many do. You’re right that I gave my experiences as an ally and not as a trans person, but that’s all I *can* do, since I am not trans.

      Furthermore, the editors of Autostraddle specifically requested that I explain my thoughts on WHY so many people feel a need to thank me. Acknowledging that we live in a transphobic world isn’t a transphobic thing to do. Acknowledging that a problem exists is fundamental to eliminating that problem.

      Finally, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying by pointing out that I am an imperfect ally. I acknowledged that. I printed it right here for the whole queer world to see. I pointed out that this is MY failure as an individual, not my wife’s failure in any way. I never said I was the best ally or partner my wife could have– in fact; I made it abundantly clear that I’m not.

      And while, again, I’m making no claims of being perfect, I think there’s something to be said for being able to acknowledge one’s own internalized -phobias than to pretend like they were never there. I’m working to overcome the parts of myself that make me a bad partner to my wife, just as anyone in any loving relationship would do. When I’ve dated cis women, that’s involved facing my own internalized homophobia (although I’m queer so that -phobia applies to me, too). When I’ve dated cis men, that’s involved overcoming my unfair disgust with men and with male bodies. And with my wife, it means facing the parts of myself that haven’t completely overcome my immersion in a violently homophobic family and a transphobic culture. How could I be a good ally if I don’t first face the problems that make me a bad one?

    • Thumb up 19

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      Quick superfluous criticism of your comment: the paragraph by paragraph format is stiff and unnecessarily lengthy, and the fact you didn’t use paragraphs yourself makes it hard to read. That being said, here is my non-superfluous criticism.

      I feel like you and I read different articles. The author never presumes to speak for trans people as a whole, she just shares her experiences and observations as an ally. When she talks about her mental health issues and her history, it is to show that she herself has facts of her identity that can affect her relationship. The point is that neither being with a trans woman or a survivor is a sacrifice, but that both come with certain challenges. This is to point out that the idea of there being any sacrifice on either side misses the point. They’re committed to each other, good and bad, and that’s what matters.

      The last section is honestly what I think was most important. The author is recognizing her privilege and her inherent bias and working at being better. This is what an ally is. She is not listing complaints she has about her wife, such as how long it takes her to get ready. She’s listing transphobia that she has worked to overcome in herself, something that takes a lot of courage in my opinion.

      I think addressing the mindset behind the thank-you’s that she sees so much is very important, and I think the author accomplished this beautifully. Out of curiosity, do you think this article would have been improved without that? Or was there a way you think it should have been done differently? I promise I’m not asking that flippantly, I genuinely want to know the reason behind your opinion. The same goes for the discussion about being an ally at the end.

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          You’re absolutely welcome! I saw this article because my girlfriend called me the second she read it, you managed to verbalize your thoughts beautifully and actually us dealing with her thanking me (and me her for supporting me through my disability) was something we worked on together, so it was great to see this perspective portrayed so well. Also, you and your wife’s comments below are adorable! :)

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        Your criticism of my comment’s format wasn’t superfluous. As I said earlier, I wrote it in a short period of time with no chance to edit it for quality. If I had the time and the knowledge, I would have improved it. Sorry if it made reading it difficult.

        I think that the article would have been better without that section. I think that it focused too much on the negative aspects of being transgender. I wish more positive aspects would have been included as well, because then the it would have felt more balanced and realistic. It needs more details about the author and her wife besides what was listed. It felt like I was reading about labels instead of people.

        The parts about being an ally seemed honest, but problematic. I didn’t like how she listed the mistakes. It could have been summarized in a less triggering way. I would have preferred if she simply said she made mistakes instead of giving specific examples.

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          I’m afraid you kind of missed the point, Heather. What you’re perceiving as a list of “negative aspects of being transgender” is a list of things that make me an imperfect ally and therefore not the ideal partner that many people imagine me to be. It’s a criticism of myself, not of my wife, with full acknowledgment that I’m the one who is in the wrong and full acknowledgment of my own relative privilege in our relationship.

          While I appreciate any and all honest feedback, I can’t help but feel like you read something completely different from what I actually wrote.

          I could write all day about things about my wife that I love that have nothing at all to do with her being trans, but unfortunately, that wouldn’t make for a good article because I’d sound exactly like every other person in love.

          The message that the partners of trans people aren’t owed gratitude is important. I WANT people to stop thinking I’m some kind of amazing person because I love my wife. The message that my wife is really hot and smells good and is the best spooner in the whole world and has a cute little underbite that makes kissing her feel extra-special… that’s important to us, but it’s not a message that I think the whole internet needs to hear. Would you have really wanted to read an article where I just talked about how I think my wife is the best ever?

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          No worries about the format, I do understand what it feels like to need to write your thoughts RIGHT NOW cause otherwise they’ll be gone and you feel too strongly to let that happen. Been there, haha. My bad vision and tablet screen probably didn’t help matters.

          I can see what you mean about wanting more positive details to disrupt the (admittedly potentially triggering) internal transphobia part of the article. I had a split second of worry that any trans people who read it would immediately wonder if their partner harbors those thoughts about them. But I think the careful balancing act that any author writing about trans experiences needs to do is worth remembering. She had to tell a personal story to strangers in a way that translates her experiences but without generalizing them.

          The way I see it, including her mistakes was part of that and was meant to be understood as individual to her and her partner, who has shown her support for this article (all of it) in the comments and is clearly supportive of her efforts to be a better ally. Had she listed those things as examples of what partners of trans women would think, not of what she thinks, I would be furious. But she didn’t. Which is why my worry was only split-second.

          Genevra, maybe I’m wrong, but what I understood as “the negative aspects of being transgender” refers to my asking if the section describing why people might thank you was unnecessary, not the section on your struggles as an ally. Heather, you can tell me if I’m way off.

          Assuming I’m right, then my response would be that I think acknowledging the impact of transphobia on trans* individuals is important, but I can understand your desire for an addition of a direct paragraph explaining non-gender identity related reasons that she loves her wife and that their relationship is awesome. That was noted in a comment above by someone else, too. So I don’t think that’s off-base, but I think had she not gone into the mindset behind these “thank you’s” that make them so problematic, she would have lost the main analysis in the article. What would the point of publishing this have been if not to address the issue that those “thank you’s” stem from?

          Sorry if this response was a bit loquacious, I’m also currently a bit rushed and don’t have editing time to make myself more concise. If I forgot to address any part of your reply to my reply, let me know, haha.

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          Absolutely, Casper. I began the paragraph by saying that I’m an asshole”– meaning that I was detailing my failures as an individual and was outlining why I’m not the OMG PERFECT ally that a lot of people assume I am. It absolutely was NOT a generalization of the way partners of trans people feel or the way trans/cis relationships work. It was a confession of my own shortcomings and not intended to be viewed as a generalization of any kind.

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          I had to call-out my wife for something of that nature. We were lounging in the lobby of the hotel where Southern Comfort Conference (we were staying there but not attending the conference; I had consultations scheduled with some surgeons) and a woman walked about the lobby passing out cards for an FFS practice. She handed one to my wife who later said, “I was offended that she handed me one.” I asked her to think about that.

    • Thumb up 14

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      To be fair to my wife, it would probably take less time to shave if I didn’t insist on having Game Grumps in the background, but I have ADD and I’m a creature of ritual, so half an hour of nothing to listen to but a razor scraping against my skin would drive me bananas.

      Question: Who else uses shaving time as an excuse to catch up on Netflix/youtube subscriptions? I can’t be the only one.

      (I love your article baby and I love you. Gonna smooch you.)

    • Thumb up 12

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      If my wife’s treatment of me makes her a transphobe, I’m pretty sure that makes me ableist as hell. I think that maybe we’re both people who make mistakes and only know how to extrapolate from our super limited perspectives and that’s okay, which is what both of our articles have been about, more or less.

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      <3<3 Thanks for writing that, Heather. I'm trans and I'm dating a cis woman and this article made me pretty uncomfortable. Imagine if the author was writing about being white and dating a person of color, and wrote "I can’t always shut off the part of the skittish, bigoted part of my brain that thinks my wife is a {racial stereotype}." Even if this is true, couldn't you think of a less hurtful way to say it?

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    My long term girlfriend is also a trans-woman, and she called me as soon as she saw this. Thank you for posting such a great article! I have an invisible disability that she has been so supportive about. We often draw parallels between it and her dysphoria. And we’ve both gradually realized that thanking each other for “putting up with” each other’s issues is silly. (In case you’re reading this, querida, I love you!) Again, this was a great article, thank you for posting.

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    I so understand this. My partner and I are both trans, and I’ve experienced this from both sides, with the added dimension of my own internalized transphobia. Even when our bodies trigger each others’ hang-ups, sometimes at the same time, it’s still worth it, and love truly does conquer dysphoria in the end. Regarding the things you “get wrong”: nobody is perfect. The dirty little secret is that trans women themselves are by no means immune to saying and thinking transphobic things about ourselves and each other. I firmly believe the criteria that allies should be held to is the same one I hold myself (and my cis friends) to, which is just to own up to the fact that as humans, we inevitably screw up, and to recognize when we do and try to improve.

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      “The dirty little secret is that trans women themselves are by no means immune to saying and thinking transphobic things about ourselves and each other.”

      I think I’m secretly more hateful and judgemental of trans women I encounter than the average person on the street and it makes me sad because I’m equally hateful toward myself.

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        I’ve definitely noticed that pattern, babe. Internalized transphobia is pretty shitty. :( I know it’s not the same thing, but I find myself being very judgmental of people who have mental health problems similar to mine– I’m often way more judgmental about them than of the mentally healthy, neurotypical people around me are. Self-hatred, whether in the form of internalized ableism, transphobia, homophobia, racism, whatever– it all sucks. :/

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    Awesome article. There is nothing inherently negative, wrong, shameful, less-than, or broken about being trans. Wish the world could catch up on this idea, like the myriad other things-about-people that are things-about-people, that we-people have difficulty with sometimes.

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    This touches some painful strings. My close friend got evicted from a queer household for this same stuff you are at – dating a transsexual woman. Btw not one with a visible history or ‘wrong’ bits to that. it’s just my friend was not familiar with a thing called shutting up. Seeing the whole lynch trial and her brought down by adherents of everyone’s (even here on AS – and no i do not and will not make distinctions between strains. let the word ‘strains’ sink in and speak for what i really think about the whole thing. I am proud not to be an adherent and to stand up as a non- just i prefer not to talk about it, i don’t need hatemail.) beloved political philosphy, was that straw that broke the camel’s back, when i lost all faith in anything good in people.

    That was when i fully realised that as long as it’s socially ‘ok’ people will happily mock, ostracise, hate, humiliate and kill anyone different and vulnerable to gain political brownie points/fan cred/facebook likes/whastever – and ironically it is only the system you call patriarchy and its cold steel barrel of criminal law at the back of your heads that keeps you from throwing out into the cold = conscientious version of killing – anyone.

    being a serious gamer and part of goth/industrial/cyber music scene i always have had transsexual girls around me (lol while gay transsexual men grow up in women’s community, lesbians pre-transition as far as i know don’t mesh with gay scene at all and go to alt music and gamer scene instead – we get all of them sweethearts, beautiful, strong, determined and troubled as they are) and to me girls being one way or the other really does not matter save my textbook-lesbian genital preferences – which in today’s world are increasingly and rapidly becoming a preference for a modular feature expressive of the core actiony/sexual makeup of someone’s personality – rather than for an insurmountable essential trait someone’s willingly or unwillingly branded with for life.

    I love you Genevra – for actually being able to open your eyes for a second and glimpse into the cesspit of evil that is your own evopsych architecture. While i have no faith in humanity i have faith in posthumanity, in shedding humanity in favour of our sapient, machine nature. And it is people like you, those who are not afraid to look at the bigoted, xenophobic, violent, cowardly pack predator within themselves, and able to envision something better than that – it is people like you who will change things.

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    I’m a not-yet fully transitioned trans woman who discovered,*late* in life, that if you find someone you love, you should work hard at making that work.

    We’ve been through endless rafts of shit together,and somehow managed to raise two great human beings in the process.

    In my case, as deeply as I need to be myself, I also need and want to keep the commitments I made without being a whiny baby about it.

    Frankly, neither of us would be easy for another to live with, but we plan on seeing this out together.

    Thanks for your refreshingly real and honest perspective.

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    I am very happy to read this many people take for granted what it is to love any relationship.
    Your article reminds of quote from a very famous song.
    “Love is not a victory march It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah”

    Not meant to sound negative but that true love their as is in your article is struggle that both parties are committed beyond what anyone from the outside can see as reason.

    So while love is not Heroism it is something far greater.

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    I married the love of my life after 11 years together. I am cis and she is trans. Her 3rd marriage, my 1st. Less than two years later she was cheating on me with a man(unbeknownst to me). Two days before christmas 2010 she abandoned me and our little pup. She filed for divorce and it was final Oct 10, 2012. She was/is a non-op but lived female 24/7. She swore that she was never interested in men. She now has a boyfriend.

    Everything I thought I was has been totally destroyed. There is no way I will ever be able to trust again, never. The only reason I’m still on this planet is because I made a promise of a forever home to ‘our’ little pup. Watching my little pup waiting for my ex to come home every night is beyond heartbreaking.

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      I am deeply sorry to hear of your hurt and pain. What your ex did to you was horrendous and heartbreaking.

      That said, I worry that her being trans* is being used as the reasoning for her behavior. People are hurtful assholes regardless of gender. Something about her gender transition may be driving her behavior (I don’t know) but it’s not intrinsic to trans*-ness.

      Lots of love to you and your pup.

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        I don’t know if her tran-ness* was the reason for her behavior. Her first two marriages were to women. The 1st right out oh high school, the second because she “had to” for religious reasons. With me she claimed that it was the only time she was getting married because she wanted to. I gave her chances to back out, (due to job loss, illness, etc), but she swore she would love me forever, etc. So I put all/any fear, etc aside and opened myself up completely to being a partner in this ‘amazing’ journey. I wouldn’t have cared if she had actually wanted to pursue any SRS. We were both looking forward to breast augmentation. But in all the years she never said she wanted to become fully female, still hasn’t. So for *her* to suddenly pursue a gay relationship, (man on man), has completely destroyed me. I was sucker punched so badly. I never saw it coming at all. I have been celibate since and don’t see anyway that will change. I had baggage before I met my love, and ‘got through’ it, but I can not imagine anyway to expect anyone else to deal with it, and I know I can’t deal with it. And it’s not like I am young, we married when I was 49.

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    Great piece and thank you for writing it. If you arent in a lovimg relationship and you are doing the dating ritual trying to sort out those that are fulfilling a kink from those that are truly attracted to you life can really suk. Its great to see a relationship that transcended the transitional period and the true love of a person made the trip also. For most of us unforntunately that doesnt happen and at the best we regain a civil level of respect for each other. That includes the children that also go through the carnage of a transition and their ability to overcome the end result, a new outwardly different parent that is presenting the best part of their existance. Happy and content. Many of us exhausted from the dating drama eventually begin a life of some what celabacy even though we are still attracted to someone. The pain of rejection is hurtful and creates new walls to protect your core self. The date that begins to form a mutual agreeable relationship is often derailed when the past life is put on the table as part of a being open and honest. (something that good relationships do on a regular basis) That is something that many trans folk experience and they wince from yet another failed attempt. I am happy that you two have found that special someone to share all of yourselfs. Peace.

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    I feel this so much.

    I usually talk big talk about not handing out ‘decent human’ cookies but like, when actually face-to-face with caring people, I just bend over backwards to gush praise without even noticing (I am restraining that reaction right now with much difficulty!)

    [Warning for abuse, sexual assault, child molestation from now on]

    And especially the part about being taught we’re unlovable!

    I mean most of all I can’t not think of my mother when it comes to that, she repeatedly drilled into me after i came out that I’d die alone and unloved. In her case that was especially tied to the abuser you-have-noone-but-me narrative, and molesting me and trying to keep that control.

    But yeah, god, it’s so hard to escape that. I ran into relationships so fast, ignoring red flags for abusiveness or lack of real interest in them or them actually thinking of me as a novelty fuck or ~cool liberal points~. And forcing myself into so much sex I didn’t want, even with men when I was trying to force myself to be bi despite not being, being so desperate to cling to anyone, to not be abandoned, and always having that underlying doubt.

    And despite my absolutely wonderful partner I’m with now who I really trust, I know I still have those issues. I do love them and I know for once that they really love me, but I know that I still rushed into this relationship too fast, that things turned out well *despite* being too reckless, and that whenever they’re not around I still have those same fears and isolation.

    (I do agree with what someone said about being too blunt and harsh when talking abt the thoughts re: your wife? Like I get that you were trying to just harshly portray yourself to people thinking of you idealized, but the ‘really a man’ part specifically really hurt to read)

    (Also, I’m probably just misreading this / projecting, but it seemed in parts of the article that you believed about yourself the things you were repudiating abt your wife? So, just in case, from another survivor of child abuse, with mental illness, an affirmation if you want it – you are lovable. You are worthy. You deserve care and respect and love and gentleness.)

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    Thanks so much for this piece. As a fellow mentally ill cis woman whose partner is trans, I particularly appreciated much of what you had to say. I’ve never been thanked for being with my incredible fiancée, but I relate a lot to feelings of being the “screwed up” one (though we both have our own mental/emotional struggles to overcome, and she always tells me not to do that to myself), as well as dealing with a bit of internalized bigotry I wasn’t even aware of until we started dating. (Certain words, having a hard time seeing her as 100% female when she was naked, etc. Yes, I realize I was a huge asshole.) Thankfully, I’m a lot better about it now, though I’m always open to improvement!

    “Love—real love— is invariably the story of two troubled people who understand and accept each other’s troubles, but choose to face them together.”
    This really resonated with me and almost made me cry. Thank you for saying it so beautifully, way better than I ever could have. Yes, that is love, that is what I live with and fight for every day. This was a truly wonderful piece.

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    Does anyone know how to get a hold of this author? We are in the same position and I would love to talk to her and maybe possibly be friends. My sweetheart is a trans woman, as well, and I would love to compare notes and let her know that I’m there with her.

    Can anyone help?

    Thanks!

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    Genevra, thank you for the “glass house” you describe of your marriage.

    I am sorry, but so many of us transwomen are amazed at the true unconditional love you have toward your spouse because we have been rejected by our spouse. My SO was told by her ex cis-gender wife that she could have been an alcoholic, drug addict, wife beater or gay and she would have remained with her. So when we see a story like yours we are amazed.

    Gina is quite right about the slim market for spouses. I found love with another transwoman, but we know of very few good relationships involving two transwomen and even less involving someone cisgender and trans.

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