Getting Quizzed at the Transgender Support Group Meeting, and Other Happenings

Yesterday was an “all’s well that ends well” kind of day.

J and I went to another transgender group meeting in the evening, and quite honestly, it was a little rough for me.  The evening started off without any problems.  There were perhaps a dozen of us present, same as last time, although at least half of the faces were new to me.  Neither J nor I got a chance to speak this time, but neither of us had anything we really needed to say, so that was okay.

We all went to Chili’s afterward, which is what the group normally does at the end of a meeting.  J and I sat together so we could split an appetizer.  He stayed in deep conversation with his neighbor to the right for most of our time there, which was also okay.

Then the not-so-okay part:

The young twenty-something trans-girl to my left suggested that J might change his sexual orientation when he eventually goes on hormones.  Lana also wanted to know if the baby was going to complicate things for us.  Those weren’t her words exactly, but the idea seemed to be that if J and I stayed together through his transition, it would probably become a sexless marriage centered around raising a child.

This wasn’t the first time Lana had expressed doubt about my relationship with J.  During our first trans meeting in early December, Lana had asked if we were planning to start seeing other people once J began to transition.  I told her then that J and I were planning to maintain our physical relationship, and that we would continue to be monogamous.

Yesterday I tried to explain this again.  I said that J and I are very open in our communication, and that I had already asked him if he thought he might be attracted to men, now or later.  His answer was no.  What I didn’t explicitly say to Lana was, in the hypothetical future scenario in which J has had SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery) and wants to experience certain, umm, things, there are tools for that.  Tools I can use with him.

Lana then said, “So you’ll become a lesbian?”

To which I replied, Sort of.  I wouldn’t really consider myself a lesbian, but I am attracted to J and I believe I will continue to be attracted to him after his transition.

Lana then said, “So you’re really attracted to his soul.”

What I wanted to say then was, “I hate that phrase.”  But I didn’t.  Lana’s words were not offensive, and really, she was right.  I love J for who he is on the inside.  But it’s such a gooey way of putting it, and somehow talking about it that way makes everything seem too grand and weird.  At the same time those words make me feel like I am saying in some backward, sneaky kind of way that his body post-transition will be unattractive to me.  And that’s not the case at all.  I can certainly say that I am attracted to the version of J I currently have, the one with long hair and feminine clothes and more manicured eyebrows.  J after hormones and surgery will be a lot to adjust to, but I feel pretty confident that I will be able to adjust.

Anyway.  I talked for a few more minutes about the shared past J and I have, but Lana was looking at her Chili’s menu most of the time and I couldn’t tell if she was skeptical, uninterested, or just distracted.  I tried to rephrase my thoughts a little more concisely…

And then the woman sitting across from me called me out for talking about J using masculine pronouns.

So I had to explain to her that J and I had already discussed this, and that he isn’t requesting that I use feminine pronouns until he decides on a female name.  I told her that I have no problems now or later using whatever pronouns J wants me to use.

“Oh,” she said, backing down.  “Okay.  Correct pronoun usage is just a touchy subject for a lot of trans-people.”

After that I sat silently for a while, not knowing what else to say to my immediate neighbors and not feeling particularly driven to make an effort.  I was irritated.  Not because of the intimate questions so much as the feeling of being quizzed.  I didn’t like having to be constantly on the defensive, and I felt my out-of-place-ness in the group.

It’s easier, I expect, for the group members to talk to J.  To them he’s just another trans-person, and they automatically have the whole process of transition in common with one another.  Because society can be so cruel to trans-people, it’s natural that the other members will be protective of J during his transition process.  It’s also natural that a lot of the people in the group don’t know what to make of me, and that I, as the non-transgender partner attending the meetings, will get a lot of relationship questions.

Dinner improved after that.  I never got back on my conversational feet with Lana, but I had an interesting discussion about the No Child Left Behind Act with Pronoun Woman, whose wife works in the education system.  Then I talked a little to an ftm guy sitting catty corner to me.  During the evening I was also able to catch up with Elaine, another trans-woman I met at the group in early December.  Elaine is great.  She’s probably close in age to my parents, and from our first meeting she made a point of being welcoming to me in particular.  On that first day she gave me a card with her contact information and told me she was available if I had any questions or wanted somebody to talk to.  Best of all, she didn’t automatically assume the worst about my relationship with J.  Yesterday we talked about my pregnancy, and she told me a bunch of stories about her own kids’ births.  Then she told me about how she was going back to school to pursue a new career field, and she sounded so happy.  I loved seeing her enthusiasm, because I myself haven’t felt that way about school for a long time.

By the time J and I made it home it was past midnight.  Despite my chat with Elaine and all the good things that had happened during the evening, I wasn’t feeling all that great.  J knew about my conversation with Lana, but I didn’t want him to see how shaken it had left me.

Back in our apartment, J sat down at his laptop to make an online clothing purchase.  I went into our bedroom, where Ziggy was stretched out on her doggy bed, and sat down with her for a few minutes.  I found myself crying a little, which irritated me and felt good at the same time.

J came in then, and curled up with me and Zig on the floor.  “Hey,” he said.  “What’s up?  Do you want to talk about it?”

We had a good conversation then, about things in general and things in particular.  And we made a few more plans, which was a bit of a relief for us both.

HRT, or Hormone Replacement Therapy, is likely to make it impossible for us to have more children once J has been taking hormones for a while.  This would probably be true even if J stopped taking hormones temporarily so we could try to conceive again.  Since the first time he and I decided to have kids, I have always imagined us having more than one, because I myself have such a good relationship with my own sister.  But the realities of childcare costs and my own desire to pursue a career make this goal more complicated.

J, meanwhile, is anxious to move forward with HRT, because it becomes physically harder for men to transition and “pass” as women when they get older.  Apparently treatments like electrolysis for hair removal are also temporary fixes without the HRT to keep hair follicles from re-sprouting.  This means that J’s cross-dressing will be inhibited by his chin-shadow until he is able to move forward with hormones.

As J put it, we have two different biological clocks at work here.  Both of them are important, and unfortunately they run counter to one another.  I’m pretty happy with the course of action we finally decided on.  J says he is, too.

We both know that we want to have at least one biological child together.  With luck, we won’t have any bad surprises with this pregnancy, and that wish will be granted sometime in May.

I know I won’t even want to think about having a second baby for a while after having our first one.  By mid- to late- summer, though, I hope to have mentally and physically recovered enough from the challenges of baby #1 to re-evaluate this question.  It would be a very fast turn-around, but if J and I decided that we wanted a baby #2, we could possibly be trying again by autumn.  Success or no success, when 2015 begins, we’ve agreed that it will be time for J to start HRT.

In writing all this down I can see how unrealistic our pregnancy timeline sounds.  Perhaps it is unrealistic, and in truth I would prefer more time.  But I was able to get pregnant pretty quickly this last year, and with my very regular menstrual cycles, getting pregnant quickly again doesn’t seem too impossible.  If it happens that we aren’t able to have a second child, I feel like I will be able to come to terms with that, too.  My mom was an only child, and she was, and is, a happy person.

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6 Responses to Getting Quizzed at the Transgender Support Group Meeting, and Other Happenings

  1. missrain says:

    Sorry you were put on the spot at Chili’s! Still, it sounds like you and J have talked through a lot and that this has already been helpful during the harder moments. Is there some sort of support group for partners/family of transgendered persons? Don’t forget to build your own support network! It may be his body changing, but it affects both of your lives! xo

    • pikaperdu says:

      Thanks missrain. No, there are very limited resources for spouses / partners of transgendered people — Nothing in terms of support groups, as far as I know. We’re essentially a minority faction of a minority faction. I’ve found a few internet resources, and I’m okay without having a support group geared towards this specific issue. I think I’m going to focus on getting more involved with the outdoors and parenting groups in my town. I’ll keep going to some, though perhaps not all, of the transgender group meetings with J, to provide him with support and also to see if I like the group better over time. But at this point I’m acknowledging to myself that this group is going to be about me supporting him, rather than the group supporting me. And maybe I’ll pick who I sit next to at Chili’s a little more carefully next time. 😛

  2. mannacakepie says:

    So many transitions upon transitions. You and J will create your own way through this, and no one can tell you what that will look like but each other. Change happens in relationships no matter what– you both just get a few more closer together! Blessings to you both as you find your way into new identities as individuals, as a couple, and as parents.

  3. rimonim says:

    First, huge congratulations about the baby on the way! Second, sorry to hear about your stressful experience. There really is a lack of support when it comes to partners of trans folks. Partners are so intimately involved in transition–yet this is invisible to both cis and trans people. My fiancee has been an invaluable support for me on my journey–we started dating one month before I started HRT, she cared for me after chest surgery, she even does my injections! That’s not even looking at things like facing questions about her sexual orientation, etc. And I know there are essentially zero resources for people in her position. It’s a problem.

    • pikaperdu says:

      Hi again rimonim. Since writing this post I’ve actually found a pretty decent online resource for trans partners called “Susan’s Place”: http://www.susans.org/forums/index.php/board,26.0.html
      I’ve checked out some of the forum postings and have been fairly impressed by the positive tone of the site. It’s nice to see other couples out there who are moving forward with their partners and who are finding ways to roll with the changes and be supportive. Being supportive isn’t rocket science, and rolling with the changes can be a positive experience (really, isn’t living together through change the definition of a long-term relationship?) — but it’s sure nice to see other peoples’ similar experiences. Makes the path seem a lot more familiar, even if it’s one that we as a couple are just beginning to travel along. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

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