Blogging about it….

I started this blog because I wanted to help people in a similar situation to me. I was younger and never proclaimed to have all the answers. Sometimes the wordings in this blog are clumsy. Sometimes I don’t have the answers. Sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to keep this up….
I check this blog sporadically now as I don’t want to continually invest myself and be in this part of my past. But I recognise that other people are just starting their journey and most of the feedback I get is quite positive. I don’t really know where to take this blog now and so often just come on to approve comments and check to see how it is going.

As readers, are there topics you want more blog pieces or discussions on?

I make no promises- I am only human. I still struggle. I am not inherently wise with all of the answers. I am happy to put down my thoughts and experiences and facilitate discussions and support.

 

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Strange Meetings

Before my partner transitioned I had never really new anyone who was transgender. I am sure I would have met someone, but I didn’t know. Now being transgender is in the media often with positive stories, sensationalized stories, stories from famous people and stories about not so famous people. Also, I meet a lot more people who are transgender or who has a partner who is transgender.
I feel akin with these people but I can’t “out” my partner. I want to say “hey! I’m like you- my partner is trans too! We have some thing in common, how are you coping? Are you OK? What is your story?” But I can never say these things and I feel weird and voyeuristic.

Yesterday I went to collect a bookshelf from a random stranger whose partner was obviously just beginning to transition. I live in Australia where people are “generally accepting” towards transgender people. I wonder how it is for this couple? It is none of my business though, and I know that. I suppose underlying the “wanting to know” is actually “how can I help? Do you need info? Do you have support?” etc…..
Being secret is weird, but it is also respecting privacy….

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The Hero

Many relationships will suffer from changing dynamics. We want our relationships to be at an equilibrium but really it is constant dance, pendulum or weight and pulley system working with and against us. It is a fine balance and when one partner depends too much on the other the balance is broken.

No truer do we find this than living in a relationship with someone who has major illness or psychological issues. Person “A” is sick and needy, Person “B” wants to help and ‘fix’ person “A”.  Person “B” (you- the transgender partner) pours endless energy and time into person “A” hoping for the best. You want to save your partner.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

The drive and desire to help your partner is born of love. However a classic trap of a relationship is feeling like love can conquer all. It doesn’t. Love is not a panacea, it is not a cure all, and yes, it can be a losing game.

Love can soon become a duty and a chore. Frustration, anger and resentment.

This sets up a power dynamic in the relationship that places your partner as “the victim” and you “the rescuer”. Then a fight ensures and someone becomes “the persecuted”. This is known as the The Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor Triangle.

Michael Bradford describes these relationships https://holisticworld.co.uk/your_say.php?article_id=77

The Victim – Victims honestly believe they have no power and that nothing positive will ever happen for them. Their focus is on the past and negativity. They spend endless hours talking about their problems, their bad luck and how they have been hurt. They are depressed and wallow in self-pity. Their suffering is their identity. Things are never right and there is never enough. They feel helpless, hopeless, reacting rather than responding in a healthy way to the world. They always need something more before they are willing to take responsibility for their life, to take any action, to change or to heal – more love, more attention, more time or more information. They tend to be confused, living in constant fear of making a mistake or looking foolish. They always have an excuse for inaction. Apathy, depression and anger are typical symptoms. Even when something good starts to happen, they will tell you “I know it won’t last” and, as they predicted, it soon ends in failure. After spending time with a victim you feel worn out, depleted and depressed from their negativity. You may feel as if your energy has been drained from you. Regardless of how much time, information, energy or support you provide Victims with, they seldom change. It is important to remember that people only change when they are ready to take full responsibility for all of their thoughts, words, actions and creations – till then, there is little positive momentum!

The Rescuer – Rescuers believe they have all the answers and know the right solutions for others. Although their own lives are often in shambles, they spend hours, days, weeks or even years attempting to change, control and to get love from others. Rescuers frequently wear a false cloak of power and superiority, always appearing to be confident and in control. Rescuers love to take care of and direct the lives of other people. Through controlling and changing others, Rescuers attempt to gain a sense of identity as well as to gain love, attention and respect. They pretend to know more than other people and frequently have an answer for everything, even though they have little, if any, actual knowledge or experience regarding the subject. A Rescuer, on the surface, looks like the “good guy/woman” and is often depicted in movies as the “hero” wearing a white hat and riding a white horse. Rescuers are personified and glorified as saviours or white knights saving others from distress and evil. Without someone, something or a cause to Rescue, these people are lost and jobless! They don’t realise they need to rescue themselves!

The Persecutor – Persecutors blame others for their upsets. Here both Victims and Rescuers, become Persecutors, venting their frustration, anger and resentment at others, blaming others for their negative feelings. Rather than taking personal responsibility and walking away from the person who they accuse of irritating them, they stay locked into the destructive patterns, antagonising and attacking the “source of their frustration.” The Victim is angry with the Rescuer, claiming they push too hard, demand too much, bring up pain, pressure them to change, etc.” The Rescuer is angry with the Victim for not appreciating, not understanding or not changing fast enough, making comments such as “if only you had taken my advice, if only you would listen, change and do what I say … etc.” Persecutors punish others through destructive actions such as dominating, controlling, nagging, belittling, shaming, blaming and humiliating. A Persecutor needs to disengage, to focus on taking care of themselves and getting their own life in order!

manipulation,manipulating,manipulated,manipulator,manipulates

Original Source © 1968 by the Transactional Analysis Bulletin.

If you recognise that this dynamic is happening in your relationship or has the potential to happen you can (try to) fix it. The above link (  https://holisticworld.co.uk/your_say.php?article_id=77    )  has an excellent ways to help you work on this. But a word of caution: You can not literally save anybody. When someone is “a victim” they must recognise their own personal behaviour and take responsibility for it. If your partner cannot see that she is being a victim and will not change you have very little hope of changing the power dynamic. Your partner is not a petulant child to be placated.

So lets let look at some examples of how this victim/ rescuer dynamic can play out in a relationship with someone who is transgender. These are simple and not meant to be complex or solve the problem but are just a guide to thinking about this stuff.
Person A= the transgender person
Person B= you- the transgender partner

Example 1.
Person A is very depressed about being transgender. Going to the doctor/ making an appointment to help with transition would be beneficial but has a fear of seeing the doctor/ making appointments. Person B agrees to organising things for Person A but Person A is un-appreciative/ won’t go/ or argumentative. Person A says “you don’t know how hard it is for me- it’s not my fault”. Perhaps Person A will say “the appointment was at the wrong time, is too far  etc”. Person B gets frustrated at the resistance of Person A. An argument ensures and Person A feels persecuted by Person B and Person B feels like a victim of Person A’s reluctance to help herself.
Unless Person A- (the TG person) can see what’s happening and takes responsibility you will be stuck fighting. Seeing a counsellor and mapping out a transition plan can help get your partner to see what’s going on.

Example 2.
Person A has a fight with her parents/ family etc and is angry and upset. Person B placates Person A and helps to soothe the hurt through talking about it (or some other way). Time passes and Person A has forgotten the hurt and upset or thinks it won’t be so bad. The situation is repeated (once or twice or maybe more) but Person B is always there to mop up the pieces. Eventually Person B gets frustrated and says or does something (or is dismissive) to Person A and Person A feels persecuted. Person B feels upset and tries to placate Person A once again for being hurtful. Nothing changes and the cycle is on constant repeat.
Talking about the situation after it has happened can be really helpful. Person B can remind Person A of the hurt and Person A might be more responsive to making an action plan for example not seeing the particular family or friend.

Example 3.
Person A uses being transgender as an excuse not to do something, for example go out with friends (perhaps Person B is going out). Person A then finds herself upset at the results and feels jealous and left out. She feels like a victim and takes it out on Person B who then becomes ‘the persecuted’. Person A then apologies and becomes the rescuer OR doesn’t apologise and it is left to Person B to apologise and make good and become the rescuer.

Example 4.
Person B (the trans partner) feels like a victim and feels lied to about her partner being transgender. She stays in the relationship taking it out on Person A who feels persecuted. Person B feels a desire/ sense of duty to stay together in the relationship but retains the victim status. Person A becomes the rescuer of Person B and tries to placate her, perhaps saying “I’m still the same person” “Nothing is certain” etc.
The reality is that your partner can’t rescue you from her transgenderism. Nothing will change the fact she is transgender.

Recognising all of this doesn’t make you morally superior. If your partner is being a victim then it doesn’t give you the right to be mean or emotionally abusive either (and vice versa).

The point of this is to highlight how important communication is and also how imperative it is to analyse your own actions and the impact they have on others. Being honest and reflection and what’s going on the relationship dynamics is super important.

 

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Heading into surgery

I’ve written a few bits and pieces here and there about surgery. There is LOTS of information out there for trans people to read up on. Websites and forums such as those on Susans Place and TG forums are invaluable. If you are a partner, or family member, it is somewhat different though because although you are not actually going through with the surgery physically, you are going through it mentally and emotionally.

I’ve met a lot of people who have had various surgeries from different places and in different countries all over the world. Everyone goes about their surgery differently. Some people are super independent and don’t take a support person with them (i.e. you) and others really need that reassurance.

I’ve seen and heard some touching stories. Like the father who said he would never support his daughter’s transition then drove 1000miles overnight to be with her the day of her SRS surgery. Or the FFS surgery and subsequent clothes shopping that helped to bring together a worried mother and new adult (newly divorced!) daughter. I’ve also heard some unhappy stories like the parents who’ve said you can live with us, but you are on your own and we won’t help with the practicalities and after care of surgery, not even picking you up at the airport.

Here are some of my tips for coping with surgery and travel.

1. Make sure you budget and have enough funds! This includes having an extra $100 or $200 on hand for an unexpected cab/ taxi ride or missed items. Don’t scrimp if you can help it. That being said, most facilities treat their patients and guests with very good care. They will offer pick up and drop off too and from the airport, to and from the hospital and other little things like this.

2. Pack stuff for you to do. I know it sounds obvious but take books, music, walking shoes, your computer, anything, even some gym clothes with you as most hotels have a gym to use. I took my guitar with me so I would never be bored. Even if you are staying together during post-op care she may just sleep. A lot.

3. Understand that the hospital and recovery centres have their own rules and visiting hours. They can be a little bit flexible sometimes but you won’t necessarily be able to be with your partner 24/7. This can feel mean and you can feel unwelcome, but don’t take it personally. For example at the Chonburi hospital visiting hours can be quite flexible but at Montreal it is very strict. Be prepared to pop out for food and other items that she might want.

4. I failed at this one first time round but try to be prepared for your emotions and have someone to talk to who isn’t dealing directly with the situation. Your partner is doing something scary and doesn’t need your “OMG look at your face/ boobs” moments.

5. Learn about the after care routines your partner needs to do. If she is expecting help, know the routines inside out. Learn about possible complications, signs of infection (sometimes it can just be a bad smell and there is no usual sign like heat and redness) and have an understanding of her limitations.

6. Be aware that although the surgeon generally won’t approach every patient in a “cookie cutter” way and will tailor match breasts to body size, lip size etc  the surgeon will approach every patient in the same manner. The surgeon has learned a particular technique and will only vary the details to match the body. The surgeon will not change the technique to suit your expectations. You and your partner can talk all you want about the finer details but the surgeon can only do what they can do. Also don’t let the surgeon railroad your partner into work she doesn’t want done.

7. International travel can be tricky. Request a wheelchair service with the airline. It will save time and help deal with luggage issues as staff will be on hand to help.

8. I hope this is at least a little bit helpful!

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Speak Out!

Speaking out about transgender issues is both extremely easy and hard. It is easy because you can see first hand what damage negative opinions and oppression and transphobia have. It might even be part of your reality. It is something that you as a partner may be passionate about and have experience of and want to talk about.

But it is also hard. It is a double edge sword. Can you breakdown people’s negative perceptions and reach them? Can they even see/ hear what you are saying? How can you say what you want to say without getting to emotional? Will it end in violence? Will you lose friends?

Not only that, saying something may inadvertantly “out” your partner if she is stealth, or very close to it.

Navigating all of this is very hard. So when do you say something? Should you say something?  The further along in partners transition the more comfortable I have felt about speaking out. But I have to be careful because my partner is stealth.

My rules for speaking out are: Unless comments are made in partners’ presence I never bring up trans stuff. If I see something, I will say something as long as it safe to do so. I try to advocate online as much as possible. Protesting about derogatory headlines in newspapers, misleading articles and websites. Writing to the editors of pages or posting in the comments section. I back it up with evidence and use sound non-emotive language. Don’t get personal! It’s not about you! Be specific to the topic but don’t claim to represent transgender people.

It is harder when the people being insensitive or derogatory are your own family or friends. Saying something can cause a riff and not saying anything is hurtful. I am inclined to say something these days no matter how much “trouble” it makes for me.

 

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The new normal

Six months post SRS/ GRS and things are getting back to normal. The new normal. My partner and I go out and have fun, she only has to dilate once per day and life is just continuing.

It was very hard after she had SRS to manage certain life things. She got a serious infection (it was really stinky…!!!!!) I had to drive her to work, shop, cook, clean, we moved house and then the day after we moved I had a serious accident. All of this took the fun out of the day to day ease of living. It was a culmination of events that has led me to appreciate our relationship and her functional transition.

To reach the point of funcationality is an achievement that some partners will get to and others will not. It is not a failing either way. But it is possible.

For someone who is a passable trans person life does just ‘go on’ and that’s it. It is a blessing and a privilege for my partner and I to experience this. I can not emphasize enough that the idea of the trans woman who will never pass is just not true. A lot of people don’t pass because they do not that the right support, finances and self-awareness but this doesn’t have to be the same for your partner.

The ‘new normal’ for us as a couple is kind of the same as the ‘old normal’ because in reality lots of things are still the same. One kind of reaches a point of resolution and all that water that flowed under bridge is passing out into the ocean. You can look out at it but you don’t have to cross it again.

Having a trans partner can be deeply challenging and disrupting for the psyche and soul. How it all ‘plays out’ depends on a multitude of factors and only some of these are in your control. It is important for that neither partner becomes beholden nor a victim to the other so that depressive or blaming cycles can not be broken. Perhaps this is true of every relationship.

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Forum/ Email link up

Hello Readers,

                 we are all here from far and wide across the globe with one thing that unites us: our partners are transgender MtF. When I started this blog I didn’t really think many people would be interested in it. I have been proved wrong and several years later there is more interest than ever. I am not the best blog host; I realise there are bad posts, spelling mistakes etc.. but I feel that my heart is in the right place.

Most people who come to this blog read the page My partner/ boyfriend is transgender (Mtf). So what now?” There are lots of comments and it seems that a lot of people want support and advice. 

So readers, do you think that the current form works? 

Would you prefer a “comments page” that is dedicated to questions and answers?

Would you like to have a forum (email list or something?) outside this blog?

Is there something you would like from this blog that you are not getting?

Would you like the opportunity to PM or email other readers?

 

You can reach me on transgenderpartner@gmail.com

TG partner

 

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