This question baffles me.
No one has ever asked me what I would do if Matt changed his mind, but I’ve read of many parents of gender-nonconforming kids being asked this relentlessly.
I don’t think a person could meet Matt and then ask me what we would do if he “changed his mind”. There isn’t a fiber in his being that suggests he’s anything other than male.
But, I love Matt. I love him immensely.
If he changed his mind, about being trans, I’d do everything in my power to help him feel loved and safe.
Would it be easy? Absolutely not. Generally speaking I don’t find myself attracted to feminine features. I love beards. I love treasure trails. I love deep voices. I love tough, strong men. But would I still want to be with him? Yes.
I would do everything in my power to help get him back to a place where he feels comfortable in his body.
I am so lucky to have met Matt at this point in his transition. I feel so lucky that he is established as a man in his (and everyone in his life’s mind). Blessed, actually.
I see stories often on the /r/MyPartnerIsTrans subreddit of couples who have been together, as seemingly cisgender individuals, now faced with one partner transitioning. The toll on each partner, not to mention the relationship, their families, their friends… it’s unimaginable.
I like to think that I am a strong woman. I like to think that the love that I feel for Matt is unconditional. That being said, I can never begin to guess how I would feel if he told me he needed to transition for the first time or even to detransition.
In trying to understand dysphoria’s place in my life, Matt’s life, and our relationship I had been pondering what I thought dysphoria felt like for Matt and not what it felt like for me.
I’ve been struggling to find words to find something I’ve never felt before. It doesn’t really feel like my topic to talk about. Dysphoria is a trans thing. Right?
Dysphoria is something I can witness, but it feels weird for me to talk about it from my perspective. No one has ever asked me what it feels like to be dysphoric, so I never considered it. But it still exists in my life. I still encounter dysphoria because I have a trans boyfriend.
Matt is generally really comfortable in his skin. Suddenly he didn’t want to be naked in front of me. I’m not sure if it was embarrassment fueled by the dysphoria, but I went a few days without seeing him totally naked. I’d tug at his boxers and he’d give me a look of discomfort. Like, what was underneath was foreign and he didn’t want to have to look at it.
So, what does it feel like for me when Matt feels dysphoric? I feel helpless. I feel absolutely useless.
There is nothing I can read on the internet to help me understand dysphoria. There is no quick guide for dealing with a dysphoric boyfriend. These first six months of our relationship have consisted of me learning about trans-ness as a general topic. There isn’t any way for me to understand away dysphoria. It’s not something I said, it’s not something I did, it’s not something I triggered.
I wanted to caress his face, and feel his beard, but I was worried he’d think I was drawing attention to one of his “manlier” characteristics. I wanted to lay my head across his chest, he always loves that, but I was worried he’d think I was drawing attention to his post-op chest. I wanted to tell him that I’m here for him. That I love him, no matter what. That I would do anything in my power to ease his pain. But I still fight an internal struggle. I don’t want him feel demasculinized. In that moment, I want to help him forget all the things that hurt him, not emphasize the things that are hurting him.
And then suddenly, the dysphoria passed.
It was like a switch. It seemed to be a really short time between Matt wanting his boxers to stay plastered just beneath his belly button and Matt wanting me to rip his clothes off and screw like little bunnies.
It was surprising. We didn’t really change anything in his routine, I didn’t do anything differently… There wasn’t a fix that I could see and it was unsettling for me.
In a perfect world, I wish that he had the ability to communicate what he’s feeling. Not just to help me visualize what hurts (emotionally or otherwise), but to help see how he went from 0 to 60. What triggered him. What flipped the switch.
That being said, I recognize that Matt generally does things to the best of his ability. When he’s dealing with dysphoria, I might as well be talking to Harry Potter seated next to a dementor. I get that that’s all he’s got in him. There are some days where I come home from work in a huffy. It had nothing to do with Matt, but I’m in the fuck-everyone mood. I understand that Matt is human, and that he probably wants the exact same thing out of me, when I’m in a bad place.
The best I have to offer is this: Ask your partner, in a time that they’re not feeling dysphoric, what they want, need, or expect from you. Respect their response, whether it was what you expected or not, whether it’s how you would want from them in the same position.
Know that you cannot solve their dysphoria. The best you can do is love and support them in the same way you have in every other aspect of your life together.
There are a few really simple answers:
1. Don’t. Not everyone displays kid-pictures, right?
This one just isn’t good enough for Steph. I love having pictures up. It’s one of those things that turns a house into a home.
2. Just do it. People might ask questions, but if we’ve let them into our home, then that’s “to be expected”.
This one just didn’t sit well with Matt. There are a lot of people in our life together that don’t know Matt is trans. While some of our readers don’t believe this is the best way for us to “live our life”, we feel it is. For instance: Neither of us are ready to out Matt to Steph’s parents. There may be a time and a place, but here and now is not it. Having pictures of Matt, with long pigtails and pink dresses, doesn’t bode well for keeping stealth.
So, like always, we went into brainstorm mode to find a solution.
3. Reddit. Check out one of the many subreddits: /r/picrequests.
Matt and Steph submitted a request for the photo manipulation masters of the web to give his pink clothes a blue-tint and shorten his hair. The results? Absolutely fantastic and 100% framable. We’ve actually shared the digital copies with Matt’s parents, who were thrilled.
Remember, if the solutions presented to you aren’t adequate, keep thinking.
As of right now, we’ve not told any of my family members. Two of my friends know and, for now, that suits us well.
I would like for my immediate family, my parents and brother, to know at some point. The number one reason being that it’s possible that they could find out from another source. A gathering of Matt’s family and mine for instance. I want them to find out from us. I want it to happen in a positive environment where they can have the opportunity to ask questions and process however they feel necessary. I don’t think that they’ll react negatively, they’re open and understanding, but it’s a topic that I don’t think they’ve ever had to confront head-on.
I don’t think it’s relevant for my extended family, or even most of my friends to know. I frame it similarly to ethnicity. There are a lot of people who are very proud of their ethnicity. They love to educate others and spread the beauty of their culture. That’s great, but there are plenty of people who identify as an ethnicity, but feel no need to advocate for it. Matt isn’t a trans-advocate (I wouldn’t mind if he was, he just isn’t). He isn’t particularly involved in the trans or LGBT community. There’s no reason to tell people his life story unless he wants to.
Until then, I guess we’ll just keep being stealth 😉
Steph and I are gearing up for a holiday that we’re splitting between our respective families, which includes swimming and being semi-naked frequently. Understandably, the topic has come up… do we tell her family that I’m a trans guy or don’t we? So that got me thinking…
Do you wanna know something that I don’t know?
I don’t know how big everyone’s dick is. My boss, my brother, my best friends, strangers on the street, not even my old roommates’ dicks… I don’t know and I don’t care.
This is my rationale when people ask me why I decide to be stealth and why I don’t think it’s all that important to tell people that I have a trans status/past/history/experience/etc.
Let me explain…
I have yet to encounter someone who has been circumcised or not circumcised who feels the unavoidable need to disclose that information to all of their friends, relatives, and in laws let alone complete stranger. It’s not a judge of their character, it was almost certainly not their choice, and it had absolutely no effect on their ability to receive or provide pleasure to someone (given that there were no lasting medical complications, which happens at a rate of 1.5% for newborns and 6% for older children, source).
Side note: circumcision is a little different with respect for the individual’s bodily autonomy, etc, etc; which is a great discussion but not one for this post.
So, anyway, other than the instances where I’ve gotten impressively drunk with my friends and we all decided to drop trow, I can’t see how the topic would ever come up among decent, socially aware human beings.
To be clear, I’m not ashamed of my trans status/past/history/experience/etc, I just don’t embrace it or think that it accurately expresses how I feel and what I’ve gone through.
Ok, so you get the big idea here, right? People don’t need to have intel about my genitals to know who I am as a person, and really my genitals are the only thing that’s visually affected by my trans status/past/history/experience/etc. There is actually another reason too…
People generally treat me differently when they know.
Some people have a very static idea of what being trans means and what trans people are like or how they look. People in the past have noticeably shifted their attitude towards me when they found out including…
- Treating me more delicately
- Being more guarded about certain topics (like sex or profanity)
- Questioning my sexuality
- Distancing themselves from me physically and emotionally
- Using incorrectly gendered pronouns
- Simply being mean and rude
So, at the end of the day, I don’t feel like anyone needs to know. I definitely don’t owe it to anyone to disclose my trans status/past/history/experience/etc and actually feel that it’s not worth my time/attention/sanity/safety/anxiety/stress/etc to fully explain who I am and why I don’t give a shit what they think. However, if someone does find out or if I tell someone, I’d rather educate them properly then have another ignorant jackass running around misgendering people and asking rude questions.
Honestly, dating Matt isn’t a whole lot different from any other dating experience I’ve had. The most unique aspect of our story is that we fell in love in a whirlwind are incredibly (ridiculously) compatible. However, a few trans-related differences:
I can’t tell, just from looking at or touching his crotch, if he’s got a boner.
There are some things that are infinitely funnier. When my period is late and a friend says, “Jeez Steph, what if you’re pregnant!” or when someone says, “Damn, I bet he has a huge cock.”
He understands my body, and how it feels pleasure, very very well.
Acquiring hormones requires therapy. Therapy leads to greater self awareness and emotional stability. Matt is more ‘whole’ than anyone else I’ve ever been with. He’s emotionally equipped to handle stress, confrontation and crisis better than anyone I’ve ever dated.
- Since soy sauce and testosterone don’t jive, I’ve had to adapt my Thai Peanut Chicken Stir Fry recipe to be soy-free.
Thankfully this has yet to be an issue. This post was sparked by a hypothetical situation posed by a fellow redditor:
Two strangers are sitting in a separate seat on a public busbashing a co-worker who is a trans man or woman.
What do you do?
Before meeting Matt my reaction would probably have been to scoff, make a displeased face directed towards the strangers for their distasteful conversation topic and move on. I had no stake in trans-rights or equality.
My attachment still isn’t “first degree” personal victimization, but after all the research I’ve done, all the incredible trans men and women I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know in person, through their writings, and through vlogs… I’d probably have a small fire burning under my ass.
If Matt and I were on this hypothetical bus together, I would probably let him take the lead. I wouldn’t want want to make him feel uncomfortable, and he’s the one whose safety is at risk if he’s outed.
If I was alone, however, I’m honestly not sure what I’d do. I would definitely want to confront them. I hate bullying. Not that anyone likes it, but I absolutely cannot stand the way decent human beings can turn into inconsiderate fools in seconds.
My desire to confront them wouldn’t come from a place of wanting to raise my voice and “set the record straight”, but to educate them. To challenge their way of thinking. I think a the majority of anti-trans attitudes (or anti-any minority, really) come from a lack of understanding. We’re fearful of the things we do not know; things we don’t yet understand.
Rather than kicking ass and taking names I’d like to scoot into a bus seat near these folks and hope to ease their fear through teaching them that trans men and women are just that: men and women.