Support.

Being the support to any partner can feel like a challenge, especially if you are feeling low yourself. Its hardest when you are both feeling particularly low and are struggling to support one another as you struggle to sort yourself out. It can be harder when communication breaks down or you feel you are both misunderstanding one another. Equally supporting someone for a long period of time is draining and it can lead you to feel like you are neglecting yourself and your feelings. This goes for any relationship.

One of the hardest things to do in life is to watch your partner in pain; be it physical or emotional. It’s hard to sit back and feel like there is nothing you can do to ease the pain they are feeling or change things. All you can do is concentrate on what you can change, what you can control and how you can handle what you can’t control. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel like your living in a body that wasn’t intended for you. I have no idea, despite being married to a transman, how that must truly feel. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Not only that but the hurt and pain one must feel when this dawns upon oneself. Then the struggle to come to terms with this feeling and then the bravery it must take to explain it to others who may accept it or may negate everything said.

As a partner, hearing your loved one say they want to transition can be difficult. You may feel like everything you thought you knew about them has gone. It may cause shock and take a while to register. Just remember who you love is still there. Although, only a best friend to my husband at the time, it was hard to hear. For me personally, it was hard to hear because of the pain he felt and the internal struggle he had faced alone. He had suffered from Depression as he came to terms with his feelings and spent hours searching the web to find others like him. He wasn’t aware of what transgender was and it was only when he discovered a transgender forum that he realised he related to these people. He realised  he was FTM. For a lot of his family, they felt loss, loss of who they knew. For others, they were just unable to accept it. All I can imagine is that transitioning is one of the loneliest and most difficult moments of someones life.

But its important, not to expect so much from yourself, if you are supporting someone transitioning. It may be a big adjustment to your life also. It may mean that suddenly your partner doesn’t want sex with you or that they do but in a different way. It may mean you have to get used to a lot of different things. They will be for the most part the same person but there may be changes. They may feel dysphoric about a few areas of their body that they may not have been before and you need to respect and understand this. Whilst being supportive, make sure you look after yourself and regularly check in with your feelings. COMMUNICATION is key; as it is to any relationship. If possible, keep these lines open and talk to one another. Talk about the difficult things and discover this new evolving relationship and what it brings. It maybe that your relationship doesn’t change at all. It may become even better and even stronger than before. Together you are learning about your future. What I would also say is HONESTY is key, you maybe expected to be strong and be supportive, but you are entitled to your occasional low point. If you feel low then talk to your partner about it, you need to be able to help and support one another. As a partner you are going through this as well, be it not you physically, you are part of the journey.

Lastly, remember that this is not forever; there is light at the end of the tunnel and your partner will start to feel happier in themselves and more comfortable. You can climb the mountain together. All relationship have hurdles, some albeit more difficult than others. Together you can get to the end of the transition and you will feel like what once was all encompassing has ebbed away and is only now a minor part of your life, be it the occasional T injection or testosterone gel.

The Shadow.

By the shadow, I mean the constant reminder by others knowing and unknowing that your partner is a trans-man. This i suppose is more of a thing for us as we try and live as stealth as possible. As we live our day to day lives, we both generally forget about him being transgender and just live as man and wife however occasionally there are those reminders. This may just be a female friend talking about their husbands ejaculations, pregnancy scares or how their partners cant keep a hard. I listen and always reply in jest, trying to perfect the lie. Luckily for us, a limp penis will never be a problem and neither will the pregnancy scare. However, due to living stealth you find yourself caught out in these moments desperately trying to make up a story about your own partner. Now im not condoning lying to friends and I don’t enjoy it. I hate those moments of panic and I hate feeling like you have to keep up the pretense. I guess we do it because we dont want to be defined by that one thing; being transgender, when its only a small part of my husband and our lives.

My husband has been asked to partake in certain sports and has had to make sure that he isn’t required to use the changing rooms in fear that the other men will get naked and expect him to do the same. Recently, he took up spinning and my gosh wasn’t he for that small millisecond glad not to have male genitalia during the session. My husband frets about going swimming with anyone who doesn’t know as they will see his chest scars and question how he got them. Of course, a shark attack is never going to cut it. A simple activity is ruled out straight away due to the shadow. When we talk about the past and mention how we met, people ask to see photographs, something we aren’t able to show as it will reveal his former self. Its like always telling most of the story but a major twist in the plot is left out. Its like saying 1+3=5. When people ask if we are trying for a baby and we have to say not yet, as its not as easy as just letting the magic happen and BAM baby. The last thing we want is fertility questions because then everything just gets complicated. Obviously, to have a baby we will need treatment and we want to try and do this on the quiet and pretend it was a natural conception. Again, im IVF so im not here saying there is anything wrong with fertility treatment quite the opposite, just trying to avoid questions.

At work, due to the nature of my job, the topic of transgender seems to come up a lot. Some people make jokes which gets my back up and I challenge most, with people wondering whats wrong with me. Some people make harmless comments out of ignorance and a lot of people struggle to understand the concept due to a lack of knowledge and education. I stand there very much in the know, divulging a little information, trying not to give my situation away. I know my husband has found himself in similar situations at his work. I guess to some of you reading this, that may seem selfish and it probably is. It may seem like im ashamed and I certainly am not. I dont do it to protect myself but to protect my husband and his identity. No one wants to be labelled and judged for it. I am glad however that there are more people talking about it and that there is more awareness and understanding out there. Fallon Fox and Laverne Cox are doing an amazing job for the transgender community. I do hope this prevents transphobia and results in a more accepting society. Some of you may disagree with the way we live but its the way we chose. Maybe we create the shadow for ourselves.

Finally the worst situation for the shadow, is when people who know about my husband mix with people who dont know. This was a huge part of our wedding and it did cause us some concern. My husband did not want people who did not know finding out as you never know their reaction. When my husband transitioned he lost so many friends which for him now is a blessing. It really did show him whose a real friend and who wasnt but he has built these new friendships up and it would be a shame for him to lose them. Most of our friends now are very liberal and open so I would not expect this to be the case. It would be their loss and I would be hugely disappointed in them if that was the case. The shadow is a fear and concern but its how we live our lives. We are not deceiving anyone and maybe one day we may feel comfortable not to live our stealth life. Maybe there will be a time when our decisions, our stories and our conversations don’t have to be monitored due to fear of letting the secret out. Maybe the world will be a place where being transgender wont define you but the type of person you are will.

I’m not extraordinary.

I am not extraordinary. I am not special. I am not anything more than me, because I am in love with a trans man.

The people I know, who know that I am married to a male whose transgender, believe I am extraordinary, forgiving and exceptional. They believe this because they obviously cannot picture themselves dating someone who is transgender. Why? Probably because it would leave them questioning their own sexuality? Because they wouldn’t feel comfortable in themselves or maybe because they couldn’t face what other people may think? These are their problems not mine. I am not anymore special than I was dating my biologically male ex-partner. I may be in a small pool of people willing to fall in love with someone who is transgender but that’s not because I am extraordinary but because the majority of people won’t even consider entering the water.

I am not my husbands savoir and nor does he need one. He does not need forgiving or special treatment. He is not some fragile figure who needs extra care. He is like all my other partners and I should be perceived as I have been when dating my previous partners, nothing has changed. I am no more of a woman because of who I have fallen in love with. Why people think its BIG of me or even brave of me to love my husband, I will never know. I cannot pretend to understand why people see my relationship as a sacrifice or even as a favour? Maybe people believe that people who are transgender shouldn’t expect the ‘happily ever after’ like the next person? Maybe my husband was not expected to marry and lets not even think about children. I don’t know, I just struggle with the notion that I am someone greater than I was because I am capable of loving and being attracted to someone who was born in the wrong body. I guess I am not superficial and maybe the way I look at a person as a whole, inside and out is a rarity in modern day society, but that does not make me special.

Dare I say it but, my husband is not special or extraordinary because he is transgender. He is both special and extraordinary to me, because I am in love with him and he brings happiness and light to my life every single day. He is my soul mate and that is why I love him. Did I ever imagine my soulmate being transgender? Absolutely not, but I also didn’t discount him for it. Imagine if I didn’t date him, if I decided not to swim in the little pool of open minded people who would date someone who is transgender. I would have missed out on many years of happiness, laughter and joy and I would miss out on the many years to come. How many people have missed out on their chance of happiness or their future wives or husbands because they didnt deem themselves ‘special’ or ‘extraordinary’ enough?

All I can hope is that this small pool of people, grows into an overcrowded ocean.

The Partners Transition

So does this mean you like girls now? You must be a lesbian.

I was worried about telling my family, I was dating my husband. Although they try to be open minded, they suck at it. They say that the are ‘ok’ with the LGBT community and I honestly thing they are, unless it affects someone within their family. Telling my family I was dating someone who is transgender was an emotional roller-coaster. The people I thought were going to be supportive weren’t and the people I thought would freak were fine, infact better than fine. For my husband, his transition was over and for me it was just beginning. Not a transition from the gender assigned at birth but the transition of being straight/lesbian/gay/bisexual to something else. For me, it was going from a straight girl to someone who must be a ‘lesbian’.

At no point during falling in love with my husband, did i question my sexuality. There was no need to. I was falling in love with a man like I had a couple of times before. I didn’t even question telling my friends and family, how bad could it be? I was apprehensive and nervous but they loved me and they couldn’t be too bad about it could they? They all knew about my husbands transition as we had been close friends, so there was no way of introducing him simply Post-Point Dot. I decided to tell family first, and I decided to tell them in waves starting with my parents. I wrote them a message as I find this the easiest way to collect thoughts and say what I want to say. I expected my mother to take the news well and my father not so well. The opposite happened, my father was fine saying “whatever makes you happy” and has been brilliant ever since. My father since the day we started dating has been behind us. At the beginning, he asked my husband a few curious questions so he could understand what transgender meant etc and even went as far to say just how proud of my husband he was for undertaking such a journey at a young age.

My mother on the other hand, was awful. The amount of tears I cried at what was meant to be the ‘honeymoon’ period of our relationship. She made me feel guilty about loving my husband. She made me feel like I was making a huge mistake and that we had done something really wrong. She was fearful and said she couldn’t imagine a future for us. She quizzed me on our prospective sex life and asked if I was really prepared to give my husband head without knowing what lied beneath his boxer shorts. I was horrified, and couldn’t really answer her questions. Firstly, because I am a prude and I was in shock by her line of questioning and 2) because I had not thought this far forward. A line she told me almost ever single day was “It is not what I would have wanted for you.” This confuses me. At the time I had a loving handsome boyfriend who made me incredibly happy, and that is something she didn’t want for me. I guess, what she meant was she wished I had fallen in love with a biological man who could give me children. A biological man she knew I would be capable of having sex with. I bet that man would have made me incredibly miserable. (I am happy to say, after a couple of years of perseverance by us, she has come round and couldn’t be happy for us. She is now one of my husbands biggest fans).

The next wave was my siblings. This went relatively well apart from them fixating on the fact I must be a lesbian and continually questioning me on my sexuality. Despite my efforts of explaining I am still straight as I am dating a man, I fear my breath was wasted. Does that bother me? Not remotely. I am and always have been hugely confident in my sexuality and quite frankly who wants to live their life based on boxes and pigeon holes anyway. I love my husband is that not enough. After my siblings, the next wave was the friends I had, who went to school and knew him Pre-Point Dot. I feel my friends said all the right things to me as they were aware of my mothers behaviour but I feel they too may not have been 100 percent. I think the idea of me having sex with my husbands former self is all they thought about. I was dating an old female friend of theirs.

The truth is you will never know how people will take it and even if they act like they are fine, they might not be. Its tough and it was a trying time but more than anything it upsets me, just how close minded some people are. At the end of the day, the start of a new relationship should be a happy exciting occasion, rather than one full of misery. We are lucky, our support network could not be better and all of my family have finally settled and accepted our relationship. Luckily they were extremely good about our engagement and marriage and are looking forward to our children.

I hope my experience hasn’t put you off telling your family and friends if that was something you intended to. I’m sure not all experiences will be the same as mine. If your partner, and their transition is not known by your family and friends maybe they don’t need to know at all? Maybe you both want them to know? Its your decision and I cannot guide you on whats best for you.

 

Purple Sparkly Dildo.

Whats your substitute penis? It must be a gigantic purple sparkly dildo which vibrates.

Apologies, if I have offended anyone who owns or enjoys a gigantic purple sparkly dildo in there spare time. You are quite entitled to. The above demonstrates the believes my sister has regarding my sex life. What will I ever do without a biological penis? Whether its naivety or complete ignorance, she believes our life in the bedroom must be full of all the weird and wonderful sex products in the world. Oddly enough it really doesn’t and lets face it in a two bedroom house there really isn’t enough storage in the house.

My sisters imagination baffles me and so does her complete unwillingness to actually listen insults me and my husband. Her ignorance on how any of the LGBT community have sex is literally beyond me. I have no idea how she actually copes in modern day life, oh wait, I do, life evolves around a biological penis. Perhaps, I am being unfair and maybe mildly mean, I probably am. BUT, that only comes from the frustration of her constant presumptions about my sex life. Despite the fact, I do not find it normal to be discussing with my sibling the fine details of my sex life, be it with a biological male or otherwise.

Just to set the record straight, I do not have sex with a gigantic purple sparkly dildo and I will spare you all the details of my sex life. Other than my husband and I, who else would want to know such a thing? BUT I will just say, that from what I do know about the sex life of people who are transgender, is that its relatively normal and not that interesting. Those males who may not have transitioned fully in the downstairs area can either make use of their capable fingers or tongues or use a harness with a prosthetic penis. From my experience, (and I will be honest, despite writing this blog I am a bit of prude) prosthetic are incredibly life like and are made to replicate the real thing. Why would a male whose transitioned want to fasten a purple glittery penis onto themselves? (again, im not judging if you do). I will reassure you also, prosthetic’s feel very similar to the real thing and are not at all what you would expect them to be like. I was very impressed when I first saw and touched one. They are not at all scary or even that extraordinary. In addition, harnesses are not what you would expect them to be. Yes, you can get small, leather strap ones which you may have imagined but you can also get ones that simply look like boxer shorts and are not at all off-putting or scary to the prudes of us out there; me being one of them. I admit, in the beginning this new world was daunting and I wasn’t sure what to expect but when I realized it is incredibly normal. There is nothing really to be nervous, concerned or frightened by.

This leads me to the question – What classes as SEX? – and I find this question almost hysterical. Firstly, why does it matter and secondly, is it any of you business. Surely, the only two people who should really worry about this, is the two people in the relationship. I however also believe its possible to have sex without a prosthetic and I can hear my sister snigger at this comment. In truth, I would never even say this to her because its not worth the aggro. I have been on somewhat of a sexual journey with my husband and learnt a lot more about my body and what it likes than I have with any biological male. I’m not slating my previous boyfriends but stating my husband does things a bit differently. At the end of the day, my sister and other close minded people can think what they like. I have a healthy, happy sex life and that is enough for me and for my husband. Its not down for questioning and I’m sure like other couples, after a number of years it may be time to reignite things in the bedroom consider bondage and other ‘more interesting’ options.

Out Out.

“Out, Out” is the expression my husband absolutely despises but is also the expression which is used when describing a big night out in town in which you intend to get horrifically drunk and stumble home in the early AMs. That is not what I mean here.

When I say “Out, Out”, I am referring to the need for people to constantly reveal your former life and who you formerly were Pre-Point Dot. People in our lives do not seem to understand the notion of moving on and leaving pre-transitioning in the past. My husband wishes to lead a life in which he is stealth; live with people not knowing about his former life. Sometimes, he gets accused of being ashamed or being untruthful about his identity. He is not ashamed of being transgender, infact he is far from it. He just doesn’t wish to wear a gigantic big bold label which says so. Now, not for one minute am I saying that you should not be proud of being transgender or speak to people about it. It’s not my call to make; live your life how you wish to lead it. Personally, my husband feels he should be able to live his life without the constant reminder. He would like just to live his life as a male; be a husband, a friend and at some point in the future, a father. He feels he did not transition, look the way he does just for people to look for biologically female features for instance his small hands.

In our lives, we have a mixture of people who knew my husband before he transitioned and therefore know he’s transgender. There are also people who have not got the slightest inkling; with close friends asking either him or I about his penis size etc. The concern we often face is that the people “in the know” will tell the people who are unaware of his story. Again, its not that he is ashamed of his past, he just doesn’t wish to be outed all the time to people. There is a reason Point Dot has happened. I guess, its similar to if a person suffering with cancer or infertility not wanting the whole world to know about their very personal battles. Not wanting their health taking over their entire identities. It is no different for him. He doesn’t want an identity that just says transgender or “used to be female”. He wants to be “so in so” who is good at “this that and the other” and is lovely because of “blah blah blah.”

Still our battle continues as those more small minded people around us, who we do love dearly are continually telling people as if it is a piece of gossip they own; a trump card they hold in their back pocket. It even baffles them when they are reminded it is not their place to tell people. They fail to understand the importance of Point-Dot to my husband and thus, making transitioning feel all the while utterly pointless. Instead of being, Frank, the amazing baker, you are Frank the man who used to be a woman. Again, please don’t mistake me and think I am saying that the transgender community should all live stealth lives and be happy that way. I am certainly NOT saying that. They, like everyone else are free to live the way that makes them happiest whatever way that may be. For US, however stealth is how we like it and we like living our lives like any other couples facing all the daily problems other couples face. We would just like this aspect of our lives to be private and to remain anonymous in society.

Its my husbands choice, who he shares his story with, not theirs.

Baby.

“But you’ll have to give up being a mother as you won’t be able to conceive naturally”.

Its not rocket science, that when you date a male whose transgender, the dynamics for having a baby change. You’ve been on two dates and you’re not really sure whether this relationship is going anywhere yet BAM, suddenly you have to think about your whole future together. Whether you are going to adopt, use a sperm donor and just how hard IVF is for couples.

This was a huge hang-up for my mother when I started dating my husband. We had been giving things a go for all of two minutes and she made me feel like that decision meant giving up motherhood for good. She made me feel like it would be impossible for me to be a biological mother or that it would be unfair for me to expect my husband to love a baby which was not biologically his.She filled me with fears of failed fertility treatments and that we would be without a baby for the rest of our lives. Suddenly, instead of worrying about what I was going to wear to a date to the annual fairground, I was now worrying about how are whole future was going to work out.

In hindsight, I understand my mothers fears but I don’t necessarily think they are fair. The only difference from me dating my husband to any  of the previous males I have dated, is that his infertility was loud and clear. Any woman and any man can form a relationship, get serious (buy a dog or a house if they wish to) and eventually decide they want to start a family. At this point, they may or may not have infertility problems, who knows. The only difference to you and those couple who do find they have infertility problems is that you knew that from the start. Without claiming to be a doctor, as I am clearly not one, I know there is plenty of help out there for infertile couples. I am infact a product of one myself; I am an IVF baby and guess what neither of my parents are transgender. Infertility is hard and it does break couples apart and can bring about endless torturous months and years. For some couples, and maybe for me and my husband, all the procedures and needles will be fruitless and I cannot imagine how that would even begin to feel. Utterly heartbreaking.

BUT, that doesn’t mean, I will leave my husband and be with a biological male so I can have the baby of my dreams. By all means, the stress and strain of infertility may end our relationship like any other couple BUT right now I would rather a life with my husband and without a biological child than to be with any other man that could offer me one. I love my husband and he provides me with all that I need. No other man, biological or not can even compete with him.

Again, it comes down to personal choice and you’re own life choices, but I would not rule out dating a transgendered male just because of fertility issues. Who knows, your next partner may be just as infertile or may not be a patch on the man you have before you. Its your choice and you have to weigh up whats most important to you. My advice, take it day by day, if its only the beginning treat it as such and see where things go.