I just finished reading She’s Not the Man I Married, by Helen Boyd (who blogs at en|Gender). It’s sort of a thinking-out-loud kind of book – it’s not quite a memoir, not quite a book on theory, not quite a manifesto, but with tastes of all of those things, and more. It’s written by the partner of someone who identifies as trans (not transgender or transsexual or transvestite, but specifically trans, which I kind of love) and explores how the author has dealt with that and the conclusions she has come to. I really enjoyed reading it, and am looking forward to making G read it and getting her thoughts on Boyd’s experiences. Obviously, just as no two trans individuals have the exact same experiences, no two partners of trans individuals would, either. But Boyd is one of the few voices (the only voice?) of trans partners, so I’ll take what I can get. (It also helps that she’s a good writer.)
One of the common refrains throughout the book (paraphrased) “I don’t understand it [being transsexual] but I accept it.” For exapmle, from page 243: “Like a lot of feminists, I’m generally suspicious of what people mean when they say they have ‘a woman’s brain’ or ‘feel like a woman,’ but transsexual people are content after they transition, feel they’ve fixed something, and while I’ll never understand it, I’ve met too many people now who have given up too much to transition to doubt what is going on is legitimate.” I have a huge amount of respect from anyone else who is able to see something outside their own personal experience of the world and not say “No, no one can feel that way because I don’t feel that way.”
That said, one passage from close to the end of the book jumped out at me and I did want to ruminate on it.. From page 251:
The feeling that I am supportive of Betty’s transness only for the sake of the man I met creeps up on my now and again. Betty worries that out of love for him I “put up” with her. If she gets to the point where she has no male left for me to connect t, there is a chance I will wake up one day and realize I am not in love with and feel no loyalty toward her. This is why when a trans person uses that “but I’m the same person” argument, I want to say, “Well, I sure as hell hope not,” because we had better not be dealing with all this crap without its effecting any real change. That’s the point, that the trans person’s change will be enough to make living in the world easier and more comfortable for him, whether that’s done through crossdressing or transition.