TW/CN: Abuse/IPV/manipulation

I’m letting the title stand as my trigger warning here because I’m going to be writing about some things that have happened over the past month and years. I was in an abusive relationship. It didn’t get physically abusive, but toward the end I was afraid that it might. I need to write about it. It might come out disjointed. I’ll probably talk about my remaining partners’ experiences and feelings as I know them, too. Mostly, I just want anyone who reads this to know and have really fair warning that I’m going to be talking about this experience–for my own health and sanity if nothing else. And I’m a little afraid that said partner will actually come read this and say things or .. I don’t know. I have fears I don’t want to give expression to, I guess.

Anyway.

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Observation Bits

I want to write more–I always do–but pain and fatigue have kept me from doing much of anything this week, including attending a friend’s wedding. So instead, I’m posting some brief observations–things that I may at a later point delve into deeper, but for now will just comment on lightly.

It is always weird to get calls from people who call my spouse by her legal name. Then I have to think in my head, “Purposely misgender her to this person, because they possibly do not know.” Usually this is the case with doctors and the like, since we live in one of the states that doesn’t have workplace protections for transgender individuals. She’s not ‘out’ to her work yet because of this, and so we haven’t done legal name-change things yet.

One of the ways I know my spouse has a fantastic partner: if I say something on here that worries said partner, she comes to me and asks me about it. I am so incredibly grateful that we both have someone who communicates so well in our lives–that is key to successful polyamory, and is one of the markers of her beautiful personality.

Being in chronic pain/fatigue has me questioning my symptoms. I have ideas about what may be going on, that perhaps there’s something with A Name here–but I don’t know if that’s a wish to have a Named Thing so it’s easier to talk about, to tell doctors and family and friends about. On the one hand, it would suck to have a Named Thing, because no one really wants that. But on the other hand, it would really…help, if all of these things were part of a Named Thing. Ferrett Steinmetz has a fantastic essay about this.

I wish I had a better way to wrap this all up, but given that it’s a loose collection of observations, perhaps a loose wrap-up is okay. I will do better next week. Also, I am looking into moving into a domain soon, which may involve a bit of bumpiness as I transition my site–I’ll keep you all updated.

Marriage Equality

I woke up this morning, sleepily made my way to my computer, turned on Orange Is The New Black (I’m behind the rest of the nation in my Netflix viewing), and started browsing Facebook while I ate breakfast and took my pills. And then I had to stop everything, because I read that SCOTUS passed marriage equality.

Found on Believe Out Loud's Facebook page
Found on Believe Out Loud’s Facebook page

And I started crying.

I’m so happy.

I’ve been married for a decade now, so it may not seem like such a huge deal personally. But when Eren came out to me, one of our first worries was whether we’d be one of the couples forcibly divorced. We didn’t live in California, but we’d heard of such horror stories from other states–one spouse coming out as transgender, the State not liking that, and boom: divorced.

During this fight for marriage equality, we’ve never lived in a state where our marriage, post-coming-out, was legal. It’s been a strange sort of limbo. On the one hand, we’ve enjoyed the privileges of what has appeared to the State as a heterosexual union. On the other, we never knew–until now–whether that union might be suddenly severed against our will. It seemed unlikely to happen, but stranger things have happened, and even an ‘unlikely’ care is still a care added to the pile.

There are still worries. Our state–our land–still does not have full workplace protections for LGBTQIA persons. We still do not have full public accommodations and housing protections for LGBTQIA persons, we still have a youth homelessness issue for young LGBTQIA persons whose parents/guardians are intolerant. We still have a huge suicide issue, particularly for bisexual and transgender persons, and we still must work toward equality particularly for transgender women of color. We’re still fighting for the right to pee in peace, to express and identify as we please and as we are.

But today–we have the right to show our love, to stop worrying about being forcibly divorced, to visit our spouses in hospitals, to adopt one another’s children, to have children together, to share insurance, and all the other benefits granted to the married. Today is a good day.

Caitlyn Jenner and My Wife

Reactions to Caitlyn Jenner’s transition have spanned the predictably horrible to questioning misogyny and sexism in America/the world to talking about the difficulties transgender women of color face to a response from Laverne Cox pointing out that beauty isn’t the marker of womanity.

These reactions have also led to people–friends and family–calling and hitting up my various inboxes with questions about my wife’s transition, how we’re doing, whether supporting MtF transition upholds patriarchal/kyriarchal standards of beauty/power/oppression over women overall, asking about my wife’s genitalia, wanting to discuss Caitlyn’s transition and interviews and photo spreads, wanting to talk about/sympathize about people being rude about transgender individuals, and so on.

Amongst my seminary pals, I’m a known gender theorist. Amongst all my friends and family, my wife and I are out about her transition and our orientations. We’re open books, and generally we don’t mind being asked questions. In ‘peace times’–when there’s a ‘lull’ in transgender news reporting (when there’s not been a famous person to recently come out as transgender), I might get one or two people across a few months’ time who talk with me about transgender issues. But when someone famous comes out as transgender, everyone wants to light up my world.

It can be a little overwhelming for this introvert.

I have to wonder, from my perspective, how Caitlyn’s friends and family are doing. My wife and I–we have an interesting dynamic. There aren’t a whole lot of people who experience gender transition during marriage, and of those, there aren’t a whole lot who wind up staying together throughout the whole thing (for a variety of reasons).

Wife and I are obviously together. E and I love one another very much. Sometimes it’s weird, though.

We’re in our 30s, but she’s going through puberty again. I don’t mean the physical kind–although of course with her hormones, there’s that, too–but there’s an emotional puberty/adolescence. She gets to experience life as a girl in a way she couldn’t when she was younger. She’s having some of the experiences she should’ve been having when she was 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. I support her through it, but sometimes there’s a little bit of oddness to it. Sometimes I find myself thinking, I’m married to a 30-something teen-aged girl. How did that happen again? 

She’s experimenting with clothing, flirting, doing her hair. Her body is changing, and she’s surveying those changes, mapping herself anew all the time. She’s excited by those changes, bounding up to me to show me, eyes lit up, her voice calling out, “Look! Look!”

I’m so glad for her. I’m so proud of her, for sticking it out, for going through the tough stuff she’s had to go through–facing her fears about coming out to family and friends, about coming out to me, about her own awkwardness with her body. I’m happy to be able to provide a safe space for her, to be her confidante, to hold her hand through this all and to push and guide where appropriate.

This has been years in the making, just as it has been for Caitlyn Jenner. The journey continues, the process continues. I hope that the Jenners/Kardashians are prepared for ‘teen girl mode,’ too. I hope that all who transition can find a safe, supportive environment in which to do so.