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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » LGBTQA Relationships » my transquestioning partner

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Author Topic: my transquestioning partner
fawcett
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Member # 47191

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I'm a cis woman in an amazing relationship with a man who has gender dissonance. Question 1: How can I best support him? I've tried to educate myself on trans issues and cis privilege as best I can, and learn from him. I listen if he wants to talk about things, and gently try to tell him he's not a freak etc. I'm also trying to avoid pressuring him, e.g. sexually and about transitioning (which he's nowhere near making a decision about yet). Otherwise I try to support him by being a nice person. Is there anything I'm missing?

Complicating factor: I'm straight. I assumed otherwise as a teenager, for the dubious reason that I didn't fancy boys (I was on medicine which I later realised killed my sex-drive utterly). I had one brief and unsuccessful fling with a girl, but since coming off the meds I've dated only men, and never examined my sexuality.

Since my boyfriend told me, I've tried to be honest and careful with my own feelings, trying to check that I'm comfortable with the idea that he might be a transwoman (which he hasn't figured out yet, hence the male pronouns). I do this by thinking of him as a woman occasionally (using female pronouns in my head) and by sometimes thinking of him as female-bodied while we're making out. All fine so far.

I'm still worried about potential incompatibility if he transitions, so I want to explore my sexuality. So far all I've done is see if sexy bits of The L Word turn me on like straight TV sex-scenes sometimes do. Conclusion: maybe – trying to work out if you're getting turned on kinda hinders the whole getting-turned-on thing. Question 2: Any tips on exploring my sexuality? (N.B. We're exclusive.)

The flip side is that I'm worried that my liking his male body will prevent/delay transitioning. Question 3: how can we avoid this? We also worry that, having transitioned, he'll fancy men instead of women (I heard it's possible), but I guess there's no way to predict that.

Transitioning aside, PIV sex (which I really like) probably isn't going to happen, which for the moment I'm totally fine with. Question 4: how do I make sure I'm still ok with that, as things continue? Am I allowed to think like that? I love him dearly, and our relationship has so far been amazing. I talk about all of this with him. But I stayed in my last relationship too long out of *duty*, and I'm afraid of repeating the pattern. I don't want to become like the stereotypically oppressed wife of the ex-gay, sacrificing her sexual needs to her partner's issues (pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/the_religious_right_and_the_objectification_of_women/). Some people in this situation categorise themselves as wholly straight/gay but are ok with making an exception for the person they love – does that work? Am I doing the right thing? How do I balance supporting him with being true to myself?

Bonus question: We're going to explain the situation to my (generally lefty) parents once I've graduated. Any tips?

Thank you!

[ 05-24-2010, 05:22 PM: Message edited by: fawcett ]

Posts: 2 | From: UK | Registered: May 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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It sounds like you're already doing an awesome job in being supportive. [Smile]

When it comes to supporting anyone, I think the very best thing we can always do is just be sure we check in and ask someone how they would like us to support them; ask what they would like or need from us. That way, we don't have to guess or run ourselves ragged trying to figure it out, and they get to voice exactly what they need and know that we want to listen and do what we can to meet those needs.

I think it's important to remember that in all kinds of relationships, with all kinds of identities, feelings can sometimes change. In other words, I'd worry less about what might happen to your feelings as he transitions further, reminding yourself that with or without a transition, your feelings may or may not remain the same over time.

You're allowed to think whatever it is you think: no one should have to police their own thoughts, and whatever you think is important and has merit. It may be helpful to bear in mind that your partner may well be having all of the same thoughts you have been: have you two shared these thoughts with each other?

Per his orientation, most people who transition don't find that changes their orientation, though it might change (and often can) what they CALL that orientation. In other words, most folks are oriented just like they were before, but as they change their gender identity, tend to change their language about their orientation to suit that change. For example, if your partner fancies women now, and continues to, while he may not identify as heterosexual, if and when he transitions to female, he may then identify as lesbian.

PIV sex, for the record, can still happen if and when he transitions, or even now, without engaging his penis. Many women who sleep with women still have that kind of sex, just using dildos and harnesses rather than a penis.

There are some other questions you're asking here that I feel are putting the cart before the horse. Not saying it's not okay to ask them, but asking about things far in the future, which may not even happen, means you or I doing a whole lot of guesswork. Some of these things are things that really are going to be best addressed if and when a given bridge is crossed, especially if you don't want to lose your mind trying to manage all the endless possibilities down the road. [Smile]

You say you're afraid of staying with this person out of duty: do you feel like that is something you're doing now?

Since these are a LOT of questions -- understandably! -- how are you doing with reading on all of this? have you gotten yourself some good books? If not, I'd be glad to make some suggestions for you that I think will help you (both of you) out.

FYI, I have a few friends who have been in this spot, a couple of which have seen a male-bodied partner through a transition to female. If you'd like, I'd be happy to drop them a line and see if they have some time to gab with you here.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fawcett
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Member # 47191

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Thank you. Really helpful.

What you said about feelings changing really put things in perspective – so many other things could change, and we can't worry about all of them! I definitely don't feel like I'm staying out of duty at the moment, things are really great (e.g. I've got big exams and he's doing an awesome job of supporting me). Plus, everything we're doing sexually at the moment is wonderful.

We do talk about all of this, and I think he is similarly concerned about possibly not being able to please/satisfy me in the future. I just wish I could reassure him, but I don't know : ( I guess that's an excellent example of another cart-before-horse-ness, since you can't reassure me either.

I did a reasonable amount of reading about trans issues way back, when I realised I was kind of ignorant, but since it became personal I've (we've) stuck to blogs. They're great, but they're mostly either “here are awful examples of transphobia in the news/my life, and cogent analysis” or personal perspectives on life that aren't often relationship-and-sexuality focused. Recommendations along those lines would be very welcome.

The offer of solidarity from people who are/were in a similar situation is awesome. If they could, that would be really great.

Thank you!

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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So, book-wise, here's a few goodies to start with:

• She's Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband by Helen Boyd
• She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
• Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
• My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein

I'll ping a couple of friends for you, as well. [Smile]

Per reassuring your partner, it might be helpful to talk about how even without any gender issues at all, you two, like any pair of people, would be facing potential or known changes down the pipe in your life which may or may not alter your relationship. This by no means is the only thing that would present the kinds of questions that you're having, and sometimes just reaffirming that -- especially if someone is feeling like their identity or transition would be THE problem, or the only issue -- can help a lot.

Because the world-at-large can be so unsupportive of anyone who is gender noncomforming or gendervariant, it can be easy to internalize that and feel like, as a person, you're "a problem." But couples have a ton of issues or potential issues, and relationships change all the time in people's lives based on anything and everything, large and small. Reminding someone that if their gender were the only big issue you'd potentially face, that would be miraculous and about as good as it gets, is a good reality check. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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