FAQ

What is this blog?

This is the story of how my very loving, seemingly stable 15-year relationship unraveled when my husband came out as transgender.

Are you a TERF?

There is no hate group known as “TERFs.” The acronym stands for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” It’s an attempt to link feminism to hate, very similar to Rush Limbaugh’s coining of the term “feminazi.” It follows an old and rich tradition of calling feminists “fat and ugly,” man-haters, and all the rest.

The “radical” in “radical feminism” does not mean “revolutionary” or “extreme.” It means “root” and refers to the study of the root cause of women’s oppression, which is biological. That women’s oppression is based on biology is an uncontroversial view among modern sociologists and feminists, but it is an inconvenient one for certain transgender activists who are uncomfortable with the implication that transphobia is different in nature than misogyny.

If your everyday vernacular has come to include a term that vilifies women/feminists specifically, I suggest revisiting your priorities. See also: bitch, harpy, nag, battle axe, whore.

Did your marriage fall apart because you were mean to your spouse?

No. Absolutely no one on the planet dedicated more time, tears, late nights and emotional labor to supporting my spouse through gender dysphoria than I did.

I led the charge on getting friends to use preferred pronouns. I bought him his first article of women’s clothing and shopped with him regularly. I wrote a blog post on his blog supporting transgender people (that he has since taken down). I went to couples and individual counseling and fought tooth and nail to hold my marriage together, even as it became clear that it was going to fall apart. I wrote long love letters and sent them to him as late as the very month of our divorce.

And most importantly, I held my ex night after night while he cried, kicked and screamed about his gender identity into the wee hours of the morning, getting less than four hours of sleep a night almost every night for close to a year. I did this at a time when I had to be at work the next morning and he didn’t. I talked him through innumerable meltdowns and spent an incredible amount of time trying to convince him that he was pretty, that people liked him, that he didn’t need to feel ashamed.

I was patient when he began to drop out of life and then our marriage, systematically refusing to work or contribute financially, to help arrange our move, to do housework of any kind, to work on maintaining sexual intimacy with me, and most importantly, to keep the lines of communication open with me, which he slowly and by turns refused to do until he was no longer talking to me at all.

I still didn’t give up trying until he texted me and said “I have no choice but to move on. I can’t see a situation in which we get back together.”

He now says I abused him, probably for a couple of reasons: that I no longer use his preferred pronouns in private conversations, though I do in public (more on that another time), and that during the demise of our marriage I was inconveniently also a human who hurt and cried and needed love and communication and help instead of being a disinterested unwavering personal case worker dedicated solely to furthering his every cause.

Did your marriage fall apart because you were gender-critical?

No. I became more “gender critical” as I watched my spouse’s transition make him more and more miserable, isolated, and suicidal, steamrolling everything in its path, including our marriage and his ties to his very loving, very accepting family.

If expressing an inner “gender identity” makes people freer and happier and more authentically themselves, my spouse was not evidence of that.

Did your marriage fall apart because you didn’t want to be with a woman?

No, I am lesbian-leaning bi, and my last long-term relationship was with a woman whom I intended to marry.

Then why did your marriage fall apart?

A few months after coming out, my spouse became unavailable to me in every possible way: emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually, and most importantly, in terms of communication.

The short answer is that his inner crisis completely subsumed his ability to concentrate on anything else, including marriage, much as it continues to do today.

Why do you still care?

Because this was a mind-fuck.

Because I loved this person more than anything, and the destruction that I experienced seemed inevitable — I couldn’t figure out how to stop it, no matter what I did.

Because I meant it when I said “I do” and I dedicated a third of my life to building that relationship and the other relationships which were a part of that life, many of which are now in danger. It isn’t so easy to casually cast off that kind of love and investment without any residual damage to the psyche.

Because when you’re thinking of the things that might wreck a relationship (cheating, disagreements about money/kids, illness), this isn’t even on your radar. There are women whose experiences are similar to mine, and it’s good to find them and talk with them online.

Because I need to process my feelings, yes, even now, and I choose to do it anonymously and in private, with this blog, instead of publicly.

 

 

Moral Corruption

After about six months of me and my ex not breathing a word to each other, and acquiring some sort of equilibrium (I thought), he went out of his way to somehow do the sort of obsessive research required to track down my completely anonymous blog that I’ve shared with no one, and get himself into enough of a froth hate-reading it to go on a viscous campaign of publicly trashing me in front of all our mutual friends. One viscous enough to get me threats.

He used things from my blog that he would have otherwise not known about as a sort of verisimilitude to “prove” to our friends that I was stalking and contacting him. A completely premeditated lie.

I guess I should have known that a completely calculated, ruthless lie was possible for him, because of the way he once managed to convince his ex-wife that he didn’t give his male friend a blow job while he was married to her, even after the friend confessed to the wife. That takes an exceptionally clever liar.

He’s actually cyberstalking me and pretending that I am cyberstalking him, and somehow it isn’t causing him any cognitive dissonance whatsoever to know that the thing that he’s getting his friends to call utterly disgusting and unacceptable, is a thing that actually he is doing to me and I am not doing to him. A thing that he knows they’d be justified in hating him for if he didn’t happen to be a successful liar.

I’ve done a lot of difficult processing over the last six months.

I processed the fact that he has lost his ability to even see me across the room at some random-ass party, ever again, even though I think that’s bullshit.

I processed the fact that we’ll never be friends, even after he begged and promised that nothing could ever prevent us from being friends after the divorce.

I processed the fact that his politics don’t align with mine, and that he’s perfectly ok with being a jerk about them.

But I’m having trouble processing the incredible amount of moral corruption that this unprovoked and dishonest campaign of hate requires.

That he’s smearing lies about me even as I’m withholding far more damning truths about him because I am too respectful to do what he’s doing. That he can rest assured that while he’s saying “it’s not sexual!” a dozen times in a thread I won’t chime in and say, “actually, as his sex partner when this all went down, I beg to differ.”

I honestly thought, from 15 years of experience, that he had a level of compassion and self-awareness that would have precluded him from suddenly sabotaging me for no reason.

But it’s not true that there’s no reason. Here’s the reason: I exist, and I have opinions, and I’m saying them on the internet.

That’s what I’m getting punished for.

He wouldn’t give up activism even for our marriage. At one point I asked him if he’d give it up if it would save our marriage and he said no.

And yet, he actually thinks that I’m not allowed to state my political opinions even after the divorce. That I just need to be stopped. Just run-of-the-mill, bare-bones, infantilizing patriarchal bullshit. I’m not allowed to disagree with him. I’m not allowed to be heard.

There’s not another reason for this rampage. It certainly isn’t going to make him feel better. It isn’t going to fix anything. It isn’t even designed to get me to do anything different, since he knows darn well I’m not doing anything to him. It’s just lashing out at me for having a voice.

So I’ve stopped worrying about damage control. I suppose if he’s willing to invest the time and energy into crafting clever lies that our mutual friends are unlikely to see through, he’s going to do it. Let him sacrifice his self-respect on that altar.

 

 

Aaaand… here come the threats.

I’m being stalked by my ex-husband, and now I’m being threatened by his friends.

“I would not, despite what you think, purposefully expose you to threats,” my ex said eight days ago. I guess he changed his mind about that. Or vastly underestimated the hatred and vitriol of his people.

It’s almost as if a group of men are bullying a woman. It’s almost as if, despite their fashion choices, they are no different from the mess of other stalker ex-boyfriends and violent men I’ve known.

A Reality and a Fantasy

Even though I haven’t breathed a word to my ex in three to six months, he has cyberstalked me, located my blog, and begun a public smear campaign about me on FaceBook. He says I’m an abuser, and that I have “weaponized” his friends against him. Whatever that means. Sounds like something from the Transgender Compliance Manual that they hand you right after you cross-dress for the requisite six months. He took information that he knows only by reading my blog and lied to his friends about it, pretending it was reported to him by his friends or relayed directly by me.

I’m sure his making me aware of that fact is meant to intimidate me. Make me wonder who else he’s sending here. Make me think twice or censor myself or shut down or move my blog because he’s here. Make me think about how much seeing posts about himself feeds his narcissism and gets him his jollies.

But here’s the thing. This blog is not for him, and it never was. If it was, I would have given him the URL (and I didn’t). And I probably would have said some things differently. Because despite his recent irrational seething hate-fest, I am in fact allowed to vent anonymously with internet strangers about the bullshit train wreck that was my divorce. He’s doing it in public. I’m doing it in private. But somehow I’m the abusive one.

This blog is for me, first of all. It’s not my fault or my problem that he invested the time and research into finding it. And it’s also for other people. People who are hearing stories from transgender people that they suspect aren’t true (i.e. I’ve known since I was four, it’s not sexual). People who are curious. People who are going through the same thing I am. Other sorts of people.

So with that business dispensed of, I will not be changing my blog URL or my posting habits.

Here’s something that recent events have gotten me thinking about.

Here’s a reality and a fantasy.

Reality:

    • I’m a guy. I have XY chromosomes, a penis, testicles, and the kind of body and face structure that comes from going through puberty as a male. Despite philosophical musings on physical and neurological anomalies I might have, I probably don’t have them.
    •  

    • It’s ok to be a male. It’s ok to be a male who dresses and behaves unconventionally. It’s ok to be a male who likes men. If someone thinks otherwise, that’s a problem with society. Male privilege is uncomfortable, but I can own it and just do the best I can by the women in my life.
    •  

    • Though I feel strongly about living as a female, other people don’t always think of me as one. People who care about me, even. They use an established, scientific definition of male and female, and they kind of have the right to do that. Or maybe they’ve just known me for decades, and I don’t read female to them.

    Fantasy:

    • I’m a woman. I look like a woman, if you look at me at the right angle with the right amount of makeup on in the right light and throw away all the selfies that suggest otherwise. After all, sometimes women are tall or large or have big hands or adam’s apples or broad shoulders or narrow hips or penises or testicles or all of those things. If I don’t look like a woman, I’ll use hormones and surgery to get as close as possible. Then I’ll just hope that for the rest of my life neither I nor anyone else ever notices, photographs or mentions any of the parts of me that still look male.
    •  

    • It’s not ok to be male. Nothing could be worse than being a male who has dysphoria, dresses unconventionally, or likes men. Society’s gender-role policing and homophobia is all well and good. I must change everything to try and avoid the fate of having a male body and a different personality than the one society expects.
    •  

    • Everyone I know unequivocally thinks everything about me that I want them to think about me. They think I’m a woman and that I’m beautiful and brave and they agree with every word of my ideology. If they don’t agree, they hate me. Disagreeing with me is unacceptable, so if I suspect anyone doesn’t agree, I’ll emotionally blackmail them by telling them to unfriend me or else. If someone doesn’t think I’m a woman or is uncomfortable with my pronouns, I’ll repeat the mantras “trans women are women” and “misgendering is bigotry” and bully them into participating. Then I’ll pretend they’re all participating willingly.

    One of these paths just seems like so much more work than the other.

    It must be exhausting. No wonder they are cranky.

     

     

     

     

     

     

Woman as “Marked” Category and the Threat of Sexuality to Trans Ideology

There’s a concept in linguistics of “marked” categories. Someone might say “female doctor” but they’re unlikely to say “male doctor” because that sounds redundant — people are assumed to be male unless otherwise noted. “Male” is the default or unmarked category. “Female” is the marked one.

If you find a t-shirt shop that sells women’s t-shirts and unisex t-shirts, guess what? The unisex t-shirts aren’t made of a magical fabric that stretches or shrinks to fit the wearer. The unisex t-shirts are men’s sizes. “Unisex” in this context means nothing but “these t-shirts are sized for men, but we’ll still take your money if you’re not a man.” Since male is default and unmarked, unisex and male are the same thing. Men are the people who matter. Women are the other people.

It’s no coincidence that words and phrases like “mankind,” “manpower,” “man-hours,” “man the booth,” and “all men are created equal” contain the word “man,” the default sex, instead of “woman,” the other sex. Can you imagine a world in which men are asked to “woman a booth” or “put in some woman-hours on the project this weekend”?

The restroom sign for men is a stick figure. The restroom sign for women is a stick figure in a dress. Can you imagine a world in which a featureless stick figure stands for woman, and only the stick figure with the bow tie stands for man?

It’s no coincidence that the Green Party labeled women (and “nonbinary” people) “non-men” instead of naming men (and “nonbinary” people) “non-women.” Only in a world where women are considered significant members of society, default members, can other people be defined in relation to us.

In language and in popular conception, man equals human and human equals man. But woman equals human (or synonym: man) plus or minus something else. A marked man/human. An other man/human.

It’s an idea with a rich and long history. Eve was made from Adam’s rib. She is male, with modifications.

Heat is a positive, cold is a negative (the absence of heat). Light is a positive, dark is a negative (the absence of light). Theism is a positive, atheism a negative (the absence of theism).

But despite societal attitudes, women are a positive, not a mere negative quantity of maleness.

Women are people who have vaginas and labia, not Freud’s people-who-lack-penises. Women have XX chromosomes, not XY chromosomes awash in estrogen or differently clothed. Women have ovaries, which produce ova, not modified or missing testicles that have been prevented from producing sperm.

To be explicit: the idea that women are marked men is incorrect.

It is against this backdrop of woman conceived as man/human altered in which so many find the idea “trans women are women” familiar and compelling.

If societal attitudes are correct, you should be able to make a woman by altering a man. Remove his beard. Remove his penis and testicles. Add estrogen. Add clothing. Make him marked. Make him woman.

But in reality, a man who removes his beard or even his penis becomes less manly, not more womanly — because womanly is a thing, not an absence of a thing.

And that means that men and women who are attracted to women aren’t equally attracted to emasculated men. Because they’re attracted to a positive, not a negative.

Those who know me know that I am very much not a straight woman. My only other long term relationship was with a woman and I have had sex with more women than men. I am not an experimenter or a pillow princess, and my interest in women does not amount to a desire to run from men. I love women. Women are ultra hot.

So this post is inspired by the (all transgender, as far as I can tell) commenters, here and on other social media, who in their discussion of me reveal that they cannot wrap their heads around the fact that I am not straight. Those who have called me “het,” “heterosexual,” “heteroromantic,” and “straight.” Those who have said that I only date women to “piss off my ex,” that I “forget” about bisexuality, and that am “only attracted to male characteristics.”

I thought they simply weren’t reading carefully. I have only recently started to understand where they’re coming from.

My existence challenges two myths of the transgender narrative:

  1. That most marriages to trans women fail because the female partner is straight.
     
    This myth is easy to rely on and hard to argue with, and works because most women are straight. Of course straight women can’t stay married to trans women, because straight women only want men.
     
    Without this myth, we’re forced to consider the possibility that trans women bring other problems into their marriages, besides a simple challenge to their straight partners’ sexuality — big, insurmountable problems. Perhaps that their personalities change to the point of unrecognizability. That their obsessed self-focus precludes their ability to care for a partner. That their beliefs and habits and interests are hostile to marriage.
     
    Relatedly, and more importantly:
  2.  

  3. That trans women are women.
     
    Though many aren’t at all surprised, I can (and do) say with certainty that being with a trans woman is in no way similar to being with a woman. For me, somewhat uniquely, this is a lived experience and not a guess or supposition or political claim.
     
    My desire for women is not tantamount to an interest in reduced manliness, or lipstick, or clothing. A lesbian acquaintance said it well: “I can no more control who arouses me than I can control sneezing or my startle response.”
     
    Sexual orientation is real and physical, not ideological. The desire for woman is not satisfied by a marked man. That fact forces us to reevaluate, again, the claim that trans women are women. What is the nature of this womanhood, exactly, if it is irrelevant to sexuality, in addition to the many other ways in which it is seemingly irrelevant?

Welcome New Visitors Referred by my Ex-Husband: Guilty as Charged

First, know this. This blog is anonymous and I never use my name, my ex’s name, or anyone else’s. I started this blog to vent about my difficulties, in private, anonymously, with internet strangers. I’m of the belief that I have the right to process my feelings through anonymous writing.

I did not share the URL with my ex nor with any other human I know in real life. My ex found this blog by cyberstalking me, and there isn’t much I can do about that. It was never meant to be seen by people I know. Now, on to the business at hand.

My ex may have told you some things about me and my worldview. I’ll go ahead and confirm them:

    1. I want people to love themselves. That’s all the more true when they are important to me. If the people I love tell me they hate themselves, I will not join them in agreeing that they are loathsome. I will tell them, as I did my ex, that they are lovable and perfect the way they are.

 

    1. As a corollary to the above, I believe it is healthier for people to love and accept their bodies than for people to hate and reject their bodies. I know not everyone has a healthy relationship with their body, and I totally get that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t preferable if they can.

 

  1. I do not believe that my ex is “literally” a woman.

    I, like you, don’t want transgender people to be discriminated against in jobs or housing. I, like you, don’t want them to meet with violence. I want everyone, transgender or not, to wear whatever they want to wear. I totally get affirming the “womanhood” of people like my ex in service to those goals.

    Once upon a time, not so very long ago, the transgender community held that sex was different from gender. Sex is your reproductive organs (you’re female if you produce ova, male if you produce sperm), and gender is the way you express yourself (wearing a dress, liking pink, preferring knitting to working on cars, and so forth). That was a very sensible view.

    Recently, probably in service to promoting the bathroom bill for non-op people, the community abandoned that distinction. They now promote the view that there is no difference between natal women and trans women. That sex categories are so fuzzy in humans that no one can ever definitively tell one from the other. That a trans woman is “literally” a woman and not just someone who identifies as one. These are views that my ex holds that I do not share.

    My ex is angry with me because I have admitted as much, out loud in private conversations between the two of us in our bedroom. And I have done that because I was busy trying to maintain an honest and fearless and intimate relationship with someone I loved more than anything. And in my worldview, that relationship isn’t possible with dishonesty and half-truths and evasiveness. Gender-conforming clothing choices are optional in a healthy marriage, but communication is not.

    Blessed are you who have not been asked to reveal your innermost thoughts on the matter, and have thus evaded the anger that has been reserved for me.

Guess What’s Not Revolutionary?

  • Hating feminists. Yep, that one’s age old, and very, very status quo.
  • Calling yourself a feminist while making sure you qualify that profusely with how much feminism loves/concerns/includes men.
  • Having no appetite for reading or understanding the pioneering work of feminism. Second-wave feminism is not a “different” feminism. It’s the basis of feminism. A feminist who ignores or rejects it is like a biologist who doesn’t care for the theory of evolution.
  • Appropriation. Hint: The concept of intersectionality was coined by and for black women, doesn’t mean what you think it means, and was never meant to concern, for example, middle-class white guys. Just in case anyone didn’t “get the memo.”

Bonus factoid: The “radical” in “radical” feminism does not mean “extreme,” so bellyaching about how you don’t find radical feminism to be very revolutionary or cutting-edge only reveals your ignorance. The word means “root” (think square root, or the Rancid song). As in the root of women’s oppression, which is reproductive function.