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Author Topic: Trans' partners' support?
Redskies
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Folk here have such a wealth of knowledge, I hope it's ok for me to ask for suggestions. I'm usually pretty good at finding what I'm looking for for myself, but with this I feel all at sea and not very confident about anything I've come across, so I thought suggestions from folk who know better than I and have a stronger handle on it than I might help.

I'm looking for resources/support for a late-20s friend of mine who is having a very hard time coming to terms with the information that a person she was close to and loved as a guy is actually a trans woman. I've already hooked her up with a load of information about transness itself. She's having a lot of difficulty with what the situation means to and about her: she is a straight woman who was never in a relationship, as such, with her friend, but they were very close and it clearly bordered on a romantic/sexual relationship, and my friend says she's never felt as connected to anyone as she did to B. She's very upset that B isn't a guy after all, so they can never have that kind of relationship (because my friend is straight). She's very confused about what it means to her that the person she's been closest to, while presenting as a guy, wasn't (it's clear that B was at least partly aware at the time, because B was the one who said B wasn't in the right space to have a relationship with my friend, back then). B has also told her that she doesn't want to see her at the moment, because it's too hard.

Does anyone have any suggestions of where I might direct my friend to, that would be helpful and supportive of her and help her untangle her feelings, while still being strongly trans-affirming? My friend still struggles with processing B's true gender and using the right pronouns. Also, of course, it wasn't something like a marriage, but still very fundamental to my friend. In life-experience and relationship terms, my friend is "younger" than her chronological age, so anything aimed at young adults would be entirely appropriate.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Hey, Redskies: not really sure what you're looking for here, because I'm not sure I'm totally understanding the situation/relationship.

Are you looking for books and other resources for her for when a partner decides to transition? In other words, are we talking about a partnership here? You say she can never have "that" kind of relationship with this person, but it sounds like she wasn't going to be able to have that kind of relationship with this woman regardless, including when she identified as a man, because she'd stated she wasn't available or interested?

Or, are you looking for information for someone who discovers they are/have been attracted, sexually, to someone who is not of a gender they feel comfortable with/within their understood orientation?

Also, in this, it's sounding like it's possible in all of this might have been some issues of one-sidedness, where she was very attached to this person, but it perhaps wasn't really mutual? When I hear that person asking for space now, and sounding like they were asking for it before, I just wonder if some of the issue here is irrelevant per gender, and more about your friend wanting to have had a relationship with someone they just didn't want, period.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Sorry that I didn't explain well. Not really about a partnership, no - which is what makes this a bit trickier. But my friend is expressing many of the things I've seen come up when someone's actual partner transitions. My friend is experiencing loss of the person she thought she knew, and total confusion about what it means to her that the only person she's felt that close to wasn't as they appeared in a fundamental way. She's struggling to understand that she was attracted to a man (I'm trying to express the target of my friend's attraction there, absolutely not saying B was actually a man), but that person was really a woman. It doesn't appear to have much to do with orientation questioning, as my friend isn't attracted to B now B is presenting as a woman.

(It's possible that one-sidedness comes into it, but my reading has been very much that B felt equally connected to my friend, but didn't want to be in a relationship with anyone while presenting as a guy, and also felt unable to pursue anything with my friend knowing that my friend wouldn't choose to be with a woman. I would put the current no-contact wish down to my friend not fully accepting B's true gender and B not being up to dealing with that. I've only got my friend's word for it, but B seems to have expressed feeling closer to my friend than anyone else, too, and a wish that they could've been together if only something was different.)

I hope that's clearer?

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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It is, but I guess I'm not sure what I'd suggest for her.

There are some good books and pieces out there from people who truly ARE partners of someone transitioning, but I'd wonder if giving those would really be sound when we're not talking about someone who was a partner, but just someone who this person wishes was. I mean, if this person was her friend, this person is still her friend. It's not like someone who had, say, a husband, who is now or in the process of becoming a wife.

What it sounds like the real issue is here isn't even about the other person at all, nor about someone being trans, so much as it is about your friend's own issues with her orientation and her security around it. Do you have any sense of why it bothers her so much that she was attracted -- or is attracted, especially if the second this person said they were transitioning, her attraction didn't just abruptly stop, which would have been highly unlikely, so I know I'm second-guessing what she says about no longer being attracted, but I'm just not sure why she'd be so bothered if she wasn't still attracted in some respect -- to someone who identifies as a woman?

I guess, too, that if you have already given her some trans 101 pieces and she still feels like she is losing this person, it seems to me she might just need more time, and more lit likely won't help. because, of course, B hasn't changed. B is still the same person they always were. It's your friend's idea of that person, or maybe their understanding of that person as a whole person which has changed, but either way, there's not been any actual loss, save the space this person is asking for for their own emotional safety.

But if your friend can't get that, even with some good trans lit, I'm guessing they just need some more time to sort through their own stuff and kind of sit with all this, you know?

[ 02-03-2013, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Much of that is similar to my own thought process.

Except, with any kind of fundamental "things weren't the way I thought", I think it's reasonable to experience that as a loss. With a gender transition, I think it's important to remember that there's a gain, too (in this case, losing a man and gaining a woman), but I'm ok with recognising a feeling of loss. (Personally, I'm all [imagine stereotypical 60s laid-back hippie] "gender: whatever, dude" - but I understand a lot of other folk don't experience things that way.) I think losing one's Understanding of a situation or person can count as a loss.

Per your question, eh, it's tricky. My friend was attracted to B's "masculine" features, and not attracted to B "feminising" them. My friend is struggling to get her head round that she was attracted to B's features when to B they weren't her "real" features at all (my words, extrapolating from the fact that B is "feminising"). So, my friend was both attracted to B (as B appeared at that time) and Not attracted to B (because that wasn't really B). And unsurprisingly, gets ?????! out of that.

Edit - if it wasn't apparent, by "losing a man and gaining a woman", I meant in someone else's perception, as that person was always a woman.

[ 02-03-2013, 02:09 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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Right, but her loss wasn't of that person. Her loss, if we want to call it one, was of the faulty way she understood that person.

Which, if her real desire is to connect with this person, isn't a loss at all, it's a gain (and not so much, in my mind, of "gaining a woman"). She knows this person better now than she did before. If closeness and a real friendship were her aim, that's what she has gained here, or has the potential to gain if that's what she really wants.

It really sounds to me though, like HER experience of this as a loss is the loss of the possibility of a potential relationship she wanted. And not because of this person, but because she only wants to have that kind of relationship with men, and this person isn't a man.

I know I might be more obscure than I'm intending here, but I have a hard time with situations like these, because they often get presented as someone needing more information about trans, when more often, I think it's more about people needing to deal with their own transphobia or homophobia, you know?

[ 02-03-2013, 02:13 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Redskies
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Agree with all of that. I was meaning a loss of perception or understanding rather than of an actual person - it's just I know that can still be very hard on people. (And "gaining a woman" was an oversimplification, perhaps an unhelpful one. I meant sorta what you said. I was just trying not to write essays.)

I hope I presented this as something stuck or muddled in my friend's thinking or understanding. I find such situations hard too, because I find the transphobic-smelling bits uncool, but can also clearly hear the person's pain and confusion.

Unless I'm missing something, I'm feeling that this bit isn't about transphobia: that my friend recognises she was attracted to B-as-a-man, but B-as-a-man never existed, so... who was she attracted to? I don't know what to do with that myself. (To me, it just wouldn't matter.)

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Heather
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I guess what I'm trying to say is that this really doesn't sound to me like it's about her not understanding her trans friend: it's about her own issues with herself.

And to me, especially once she's already got her hands on some trans education, that's really about her just sorting her own shit out, most likely mostly by sitting in it (sorry, that made for a yucky and unintended visual) and working it through in her own heart and head.

I guess I just don't think that feeling the kind of thing she's feeling is a situation where we have to worry about intense care for a person, unless you're worried she'll harm herself around this. rather, it seems to be that feeling whatever she's feeling is likely important for her to feel and deal with so she can get to the other side of it.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Just realized what I'm trying to say might be said more clearly like this: there are uncomfortable things that are supposed to be uncomfortable, if we're to grow and, IMO, become better people. I don't think we don't want to try and help people get away from that kind of discomfort, because doing that really doesn't serve them.

So, transphobia and homophobia? I hope they're uncomfortable, because I think they should be. And if and when they're part of our headspace or heart-space and we do feel discomfort in them, I think that's a very good thing. For everyone.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67207 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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