The Unnamed Feeling

(by Alexis Rene Jones)
My thoughts have been revolving around a subject regarding acceptance from significant others to those trangendered for the last few weeks, regardless the stage of transistion mentally or physically. I have not been able to make heads nor tales of my thoughts at all. As this is all speculative at best as I am single. However this impacts many.

As with anything, When I am trying to comprehend thoughts or feelings I try to view introspectively and objectively and hopefully garner an outside point of view as well.

So with that, I put my mindset back to about ten years ago when I was married and denying my own feelings of what was within. When I say "denying feelings", That is putting it lightly. I was burying them with a vengence as I just could not bear anyone to know or try to accept what was me. I mean how could I think someone else could accept what I would not about my own perception of who I was.

After trying to place a bearing on all of this I tried to imagine what if my beautiful wife would have came to me and said...."While you have been away at work, I have been wearing your clothes with my hair tied back tightly and I can style it back much like a man. I have also been working out and trying to gain some muscle mass as I am more comfortable with the masculine than I am with the feminine side within. I still love you and hope you would stick by my side. However if not, I am sorry about your decision and this is a road I must travel with ...or without you."

I would have been horrified and scared. Wondering where "I" went wrong. Many feelings of an underworld would have came to light of day for me to see. Questioning everything frantically, I would have let my mind be my own worst enemy. So back then my immediate comprehension of such information would have resulted in her or him per say to hitting the bricks. The response being out of defending the perception people had of me would have ruled over the realization of myself.

Current day, After my divorce I have avoided relationships based on numerous reasons but one main is that I do not know where my future lies just yet. So for me my life is relatively simple in terms of being free enough to explore who I am without compromising someone I would love and care about.

My question is this, If your significant other was the transgendered person and not you, How would you react? Speculative I know... More fitting to the wives and a few husbands of many would be, How did you react and what happened thereafter? While it would be great to say we are enlightened individuals in this world with supportive souls and all things have a happy ending, That is just not the case as I see many a transgendered souls suffering the pain of choosing what is within them and what is before them in terms of their families. This sort of decision can get to the life threatening stages of depression or stress related complications. Which is why I am addressing it now personally than later as it will impact my future greatly!

It is metaphorically said that a mind is like an umbrella and only works while open. However this is much deeper than any metaphor can conclude.
While we hope for people to open their minds to us, Do we do the same in return because we are evolved or out of convienance?

I know this is redundant but....I am sure there are plenty of wives and maybe a few husbands in the world who may be able to enlighten us upon this subject and I hope some will share some positive or negative experiences on this as it would enlighten many and quite possibly help others see a broader real world spectrum of what exists in terms of significant others.

Comments

Shari Williams said…
Hey Alexis....Great topic, it will generate volumes of information I am sure. Here is my two cents worth.
I showed your "blog" to my wife and her first thoughts were "she has her act together". How women or men for that matter initially react when they find out a spouse is TG often has to do with how they find out. That being said, if they are told in a caring and loving way most are initially shocked, then follows denial, then education and hopefully finally acceptance (this process can takes years BTW). Acceptance is truly varied, and there are all levels of acceptance. Much has to do with the TG individual themselves. How far do they go, or intend to go to express their TG feelings? Are they open and honest about their TG feelings? How strong are the individuals TG feelings? Acceptance stems from a deep love or caring of another person, but while a spouse may love you they may not be able to stay in a relationship with a TG partner that has decided to express their TG feelings in a way that makes their spouse/SO uncomfortable despite their love for them. The often heard argument of “if you loved me you would accept me” holds no more water than the argument “If you loved me you would quit”. But both of these arguments are often heard in TG households…..there is a better long lasting solution.
If a TG individual can be TOTALLY honest with themselves before they ask others for acceptance, the chance of the relationship surviving is increased many fold! Self honesty and self awareness about our TG feelings is the only hope we have of being in a successful relationship, if we can’t be honest with ourselves about our TG feelings, we can't be honest with our spouses. Alexis, you hit the nail on the head, deal with these issues now and get your "ducks in a row" before trying to get into a relationship. That way you can be honest and upfront with your future spouse/partner. Your point regarding TG individuals having to choose between self fulfillment and families is so sad but very true. That situation usually stems from a TG individual either not admitting(to themselves or others) or not realizing their feelings until they are waist deep in a serious relationship. At that point the mold has been set and breaking it will be painful and emotionally costly for all involved.
Early on in our relationship my wife had a VERY hard time with my TG feelings. She did not acknowledge much less accept them. After talking with her and looking back at where I was at the time, it is no wonder. The TG feelings I had frightened her, heck they frightened me. I had not faced my issues and could not understand them much less help her to understand them. Only after I started down this road to “self awareness” was I able to give her some honest answers. Once I did that the fear subsided and was replaced with honest and candid conversation and eventually understanding.
I think my wife said it well when she said “I love you, and your TG feelings are merely another thing about you I have to learn to live with, much like you do with my Type A personality or my dirty closet, or the way I drive". Shari's note: My TG feelings are definitely not as intense as others; I have no desire to transition, take hormones or the like. In the past my wife has told me that she could not deal with those actions. In her words, "it would not change my love for you, but it would change our relationship". My wife actually rates the influence my TG feelings have on our marriage well below, jobs, kids, family, money, and friends just to name a few. She has come to accept the feelings (it took 14 years to get here) as a part of me, and she makes allowances. These days she pretty much regards my TG feelings as a non-issue in our marriage, well most of the time I am blessed to have found someone who accepts me for me, and that she allows me to express my TG feelings in a way that suits me as well as our families lifestyle. I wish all of you the same ! BTW, my wife said she would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have of her.
Peace
Shari Williams
Dear Alexis,

Regarding your article, "The Unnamed Feeling", where you are asking for feedback from SOs of TGs, here is a piece submitted by Amanda, who is Samantha's wife. It applies to a couple who's been married for 20-30 years, living in truth for 4 years, however it gives one perspective on the questions you are asking. She originally wrote it for another group, but it addresses directly the question you are pondering... Amanda entitled it, "What Your SO Might Be Thinking"... she gives some food for thought and points of consideration.

Much love,
Michele

******

(This was written on a public list to one specific individual, but it's valid to almost anyone coming out to a significant other.)

As a wife, my first and most important piece of advice is to love your wife and give her time. You have spent years and years dealing with this part of yourself. You have had most of your life to run through the stages of denial, guilt, shame, disgust, etc. and work up to a point of acceptance. She has had only four years. Four years may sound like a lot of time, but when you compare it to the 26 years that she thought she knew you, it's not really a much at all. Love her enough to give her some space to deal with this, or not, in her own way. I'm guessing that if you've been married for 26 years (is it 30 now after the 4 years since you told her?) she's probably somewhere in the late 40s-ish 50s-ish age range. (Please don't tell her age... she wouldn't appreciate it. You can tell me if I'm way off in the basic range though.) She's probably struggling with a great number of things. I don't know her, so I can't say for sure, but I'll toss a few things out there for you to think about.

First, she may well be feeling deceived or betrayed. She probably thought that she knew you, inside and out, after being married for so many years. She probably thought that there were no secrets between the two of you. Then this bomb drops. It is an important part of your life. Important enough that you HAD to tell her. Important enough that you couldn't or wouldn't just stop. She may well be wondering then, if it's so important, why didn't you tell her before this? She may well be wondering, "If he hid this from me for so long, what else is he hiding?" Chances are she feels that she misplaced her trust. She may feel that you violated her trust by hiding this for so long. Trust is a hard thing to earn back. A negative is one of the hardest things on the planet to prove. How can you prove to her that you're not hiding anything, or that you're not lying to her? You can only give her time to build that trust again, and not give her reasons to distrust.

Second, for women who are (for lack of a better reference point) part of the baby boomer generation, breaking gender norms is a very difficult thing to wrap their heads around. Gender norms were very much emphasized in the 1940s through early 1960s. Her mother may have worked outside the home, but was still probably the one responsible for the "woman's work" inside the home. Her father was quite likely "the bread winner" and the "man's man". She grew up seeing the norms typified. Even if she took part in the feminist movement, she was fighting for equal rights for women, seeing men treated as somehow better ore more worthy than women. What you are asking her to do is wrap her mind around a totally foreign gender construct. It's not an easy thing to do. Men are supposed to be "manly" and do "manly" things. Womanhood isn't to be desired, even by women. So, not only have you stepped outside the norm, you desire that which is to be ?scorned?. (Lacking a better word, sorry.) It's understandable for her to feel that it is "sick" and "not normal". Until recently, the medical profession backed that up. Some physicians still do. Most denominations of religions will tell you that it's wrong, or sick, or immoral. It takes a lot to step back from what the world says and weigh it in the balance for yourself. It's not even simple to weigh it out! A great deal of the evidence that's easily findable weighs in on the sick or not normal side. Her best information is going to come from you, but you are also the person most likely to present feelings rather than straight facts. That can be a positive or a negative. Depends on the mood & the situation.

Thirdly, she may feel that she got cheated. She married a man, or so she thought. Now this is being thrown into the mix master. She didn't sign on for this. You can even make the argument that you are the same man. You can even make the argument that she may well have fallen in love with some of your more feminine personality traits. That, most likely, won't wash with her. This changes her perspective of you, even if you yourself have not changed.

Fourth, she may feel a lot of fear. Crossdressing is still taboo in our society. It is still looked at by many as being shameful or disgusting or, or, or. She may well be afraid that "If our friends find out, they're never going to speak to us again." or "If our kids find out, they're going to be disgusted." or "If our church finds out, they're going to throw us out." Those are not unfounded fears on her part. They need to be acknowledged and talked through.

Fifth, she may be questioning what this says about her personally, and her sexuality. Many wives question, "Does this make me a lesbian?" or "What does it mean to me if I'm attracted to him when he's en femme?". There are a million questions that come up. It takes time, and a LOT of courage, to even let yourself hear the questions instead of turning off your brain, metaphorically sticking your fingers in your ears, and going "Lalalalalalala, I don't hear you." It's a whole lot easier to bottle it all up inside and pretend that the giant pink elephant is NOT sitting in your living room. It might still be there, and it might even stink after a while, but if you pretend it's not there, you don't have to clean up the mess. She might well just not want to deal with the personal questions. They're rather tough to chew on.

I can understand wanting to join a local support group and meet others who feel similarly to yourself. Please take a few minutes to think about what that means for your wife, though. It means certain knowledge. It means knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are out there, in a public place, dressed as a woman. What if someone recognizes you? What if someone attacks you? What if you're in an accident and have to go to the hospital and everyone there finds out? I'm not saying that any of this will happen... just that it may be part of what she's thinking. It forces the issue. It forces her to think about things that she may not be ready to deal with yet. Please remember that your marriage is a partnership. It's got to be give and take. Right now, it may seem that she's not giving any quarter on this subject. I can understand you feeling that way. Consider this, however. She has not rejected you outright. She has not kicked you out of the house or divorced you. She has not gone yelling from the rooftops to your family, "Look at the freak!". She has not gone to your church or a doctor and tried to "cure" you. She has given you tolerance, if nothing else.

The best thing you can do for your wife is be her husband. I realize that you've come to a place where you feel more comfortable about who you are. You've accepted yourself, and you feel good about that. Rightfully so, please don't misunderstand me. What your wife most likely needs more than anything right now is the man she married, and time. When she's ready, talking with other wives who have been in a similar place may well do her a world of good. If she's not ready for that, though, that's her prerogative. Give her some space. Please don't feel that I'm coming down on you, I'm just trying to give some ideas as to where she might be coming from. Four years may feel like an eternity to you, but please take a moment to think about how long you struggled with coming to grips with yourself. I can almost guarantee that it took more than four years. Allow her the same luxury of time. It's obvious that you both love each other, or you both would have quit on this. Hang in there.

I do not know your wife, and I don't know all the details of your situation. What I have written is for consideration. They are possibilities. No one has the answers that will be right for you and your wife and your relationship, other than you and your wife. I can just offer food for thought, based on talking with numerous wives of transgendered people, and being a wife of a transgendered person myself. I hope you'll take it as such and not be offended.

Amanda
Miranda Skye said…
Hi Alexis …… I applaud your self sincerity and your ability to ask yourself hard questions. I feel most people go around filtering their experiences to the best “truth” that fits their beliefs. I know at the loneliest times in my life I would not ask any hard questions before jumping into a relationship – I just knew at the time I felt better. I am now muddling through a relationship in it’s twilight years (actually months now) with a woman who never made it past the “shock” stage Shari outlined in her comment (initial shock, then denial, then education and hopefully finally acceptance). I have put her through too many “keep my secrets for me” scenarios already and I don’t expect much more from her on the CD front. If the high heel was on the other foot I’d expect it wouldn’t be comfortable for me either unless her goals were in the context of balance. For the unforeseeable future she is running her business and exists mostly as a type “A” in masculine mode and too exhausted to embrace any femininity when she comes home at night. There is about zilch girl energy in our household and hell if I were to exhibit some when she’s so bereft of that gift. We have discussed my moving back to San Francisco alone and traveling back and forth occasionally after she caught me online reading GE mail and demanded to see what I was reading. Without showing her my “Miranda” persona I told her I was reading Alexis’s story of coming out to her mother ….. but refused to show her the mail logon. That bit of concealment was the final straw and though we will be fast friends and committed to daughter and parenthood ….. she’s chosen a route separate from embracing my whole self. Quite the relief actually. It’s a decision I did NOT want to make unilaterally. I should be moved out by the end of summer. If anybody was wondering about all my recent angst – well, it’s gone and replaced by a huge sense of relief and honesty. Thanks for bringing up this topic Alexis. -Miranda
Dearest Alexis,

Thank you so much for "That Unnamed Feeling", which raises the topic of significant others (SO)and their experience alongside a transgendered spouse. It is a wise decision to make peace with yourself before seeking an intimate relationship. Once you figure out who you are, it's easier to figure out what you want, both in life and in your mate. One thing I do know for sure, you've got a lot to offer a person... most importantly, you've got a heart of gold. Your future spouse will be very blessed.

I cannot speak to the potential confusion and angst a spouse might feel, because I embrace transgenderism. Having been touched by the beauty I've experienced, being with a trans partner is my preference. I'm not representative of the typical spouse you are referring to here. Rather than trying to speculate how some SO's might feel or react, I can only add the perspective why a TG partner is favorable to me.

Being with a man who has the emotional constitution and sensitivity of a woman is very refreshing. Compared with an ordinary man, (s)he has greater capacity to be nurturing, supportive, empathetic, attentive to home and family, because (s)he is more of a feminine person. (S)he tends to be more romantic, more receptive, more giving than most men. Yet (s)he still has a maleness about her, a strength, a protectiveness, that most woman do not possess. (S)he's got the strength and biology of a man combined with the beauty and tenderness of a woman. To me, this is "the total package".

It seems businesswomen climbing corporate ladders might do well with transgender spouses. The nurturing, feminine nature of a trans person balances well with the driven, masculine nature of many businesswomen. Under current social standards, a woman who wants to get to the top in her career is ill advised to prioritize family matters or take maternity leave. Successful men of the business world typically have a supportive wife tending home and family. Unless a businesswoman has a spouse at home to do the same, she is at a disadvantage in the business world. Either that, or she chooses not to have a family at all. While typical men have ego issues with being a "stay at home dad", a TG person might be more inclined to happily fill this role. Thus, a transgender spouse could be very supportive for a businesswoman balancing career and home.

Intimately, the spectrum of possibilities is so much greater for a woman with a trans partner than with an ordinary man. So many fantasies can be enjoyed harmlessly within the sanctity of a relationship between a woman and her trans partner. The options for creativity are endless, which lends well to keeping things interesting in the bedroom. Obviously, I am well sold on the idea of coupling with a transgender person. Perhaps my views are not commonly held at this time, though I hold hope that other women, girlfriends, wives, will ultimately come to see the same beauty I see.

Alexis, I am impressed by your foresight in examining this issue prior to becoming involved with another. Shari, I am touched by your level of honesty with your wife, and her open-mindedness to your journey. Amanda, you raised many valid points which likely do affect wives who were married for years before they found out. It is to avoid all of these issues that many transpeople never tell their wife at all, and yet, this is not the best solution either. The best solution is for it to be safe to be totally upfront and honest without fear of judgement or condemnation. Unfortunately it's not always that simple. Miranda darling, my heart goes out to you for the rough spot you've been through with your spouse. I wish I could help somehow, yet there is no easy answer...

With much love,
Michele


*******
Serenity Of Knowing - Acceptance

The world is a palette of varied beauty with subtle and not-so-subtle differences in brilliance and hue. But, like all we perceive subjectively, many things can fail to meet our expectations. People don't behave as we'd wish them to, situations turn out differently than we'd imagined, and the end result is often unhappiness. The remedy is acceptance - an open-minded, understanding perception that brings the serenity of knowing every individual, situation, or difficulty is unique and valuable in some way. It is a mode of respect for differences, of seeing beyond faults or disappointments and reaching contentment.

Though acceptance necessitates recognizing and acknowledging situations or attitudes that exist in the present, it does not imply that you need also give your approval. To approve or to disapprove is to judge, but in accepting, you simply understand that all situations and all people are in a constant state of flux. Likewise, each of us is also in the process of changing and by choosing to accept ourselves (in the past, present, and future); we can truly begin to understand who we really are. Acceptance is freedom from the need to retain preconceived notions, control of others, favored outcomes, or the anxiety that can come when the unexpected occurs. It is more than tolerance, though resisting the urge to react to the choices of others is a large part of the process. Rather it is a patience and gentleness that extends outward, beginning in one's own soul and extending to other people and the world at large.

Sometimes the process works in reverse because accepting others can be easier than accepting oneself, though the latter is the inevitable result of true acceptance. In fostering acceptance, the need to judge is quelled because the belief that others ought to live up to your expectations (or 'should thinking') is eliminated because everything is evolving and deserves to do so without interference. And in letting growth happen and understanding that each person, place, thing, or situation is as it is meant to be, a blissful quiet of the mind and strong feelings of worth can be realized.

http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2005/480.html

*******
Marlena Dahlstrom said…
Very nicely written Amanda!

Alexis, my friend Marla (an SO) has written eloquently on the "acceptance pendulum" many SOs go through.

http://www.crossdressers.com/forums/showpost.php?p=191346&postcount=1

Marla and some other SOs also had an interesting discussion on what made accepting SOs different from others. (For the record, Marla wanted to marry a CD, so obviously her situation is a bit different.)

http://www.crossdressers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21159

She's also got some additional thoughts on acceptance.

http://www.crossdressers.com/forums/showpost.php?p=139709&postcount=1

Speaking of "femininity," my friend Marla had some thoughts on how loving a crossdresser helped her make peace with her own femininity.

http://www.crossdressers.com/forums/showpost.php?p=148731&postcount=1

Marlena

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