Well here we are. You got everything you wanted. You didn’t make a single compromise, ever, in the year and a half since your “gender identity” suddenly appeared and became the focus of your world. You didn’t give me anything.
When you were a crossdresser, you once blogged that I was allowed to set boundaries on when and where you dressed. Your relationship with me was the most important thing in your life, you wrote. The control I supposedly had was never exercised, and it quickly faded.
When you made the appointment to have your beard removed via laser treatment, you did it without my knowledge and you signed away a couple thousand dollars just to ensure that no one could do anything about it. I didn’t want you to do it, but you didn’t care. It was clear I’d never stop it. So I asked you to do me a small favor and grow out your beard for two weeks and let me say goodbye to it, because you were getting your way forever, and I was only asking for two weeks. You pouted about this request. You stomped and cried. You refused.
When one of your best friends asked you to spend her birthday with her because she was lonely, and the date of her birthday happened to clash with your first laser appointment, you threw a veritable tantrum. You ranted wild-eyed for hours, days, about how everyone was trying to stop you. But you got your appointments. Your beard is gone forever. There was never any need for you to trample over the feelings of your wife or your friend, because by golly, nothing was going to keep you out of that laser salon for even a week.
When you spent a year lying on the sofa, crying, not working, not doing any housework, and after several big fights about housework, and after I gave up even expecting you to do housework, I asked you to do a tiny thing for me. I asked you to clean the bathtub. I asked this because I didn’t have time to do it, as I was going to work, then we were going to a party that evening. And I wanted to take a nice warm bath in between, because it was cold out, and the bathtub was actually unusable because a contractor had been working in there and it was filled with dust and debris.
But you didn’t do it.
And that same thing happened several other times. “If you don’t do anything else today,” I would say, “could you please do me one little favor and cut up the honeydew and put it in a container for me?” Because I was running all the time, because I was doing everything. All the working, all the housework, all the errands, all the everything always. And I wanted a healthy snack for work to keep me from grabbing vending machine snacks which cost too much and were putting weight on me. And I just couldn’t get to that damn honeydew. Because of all the other shit I was doing for me, for you, for us. And you weren’t doing anything, at all, so maybe you could find time to do it.
But you didn’t do it.
When I asked you to avoid hormones, you said you could not take it off the table. I passed along the stories I’d heard in the spouse’s support group: erectile dysfunction, extreme pain and sensitivity in the genitals, repeated but failed attempts to maintain a sex life with Viagra and cock rings, loss of libido, and the eventual, inevitable marital bed death. I had pledged to you my sexual exclusivity, I argued. I needed to have a sex life.
But you said no. You weren’t sure now, but what if you wanted hormones someday? That would clearly be more important than our commitment to each other.
Then later, you actually used this as an example of a time that you compromised. Because you considered it. And then said no. In your mind, considering it before refusing me was so painful that it registered as a compromise to you.
When our marriage really started to suffer, I asked you if you’d consider giving up transgender activism if I told you it would save our marriage. Because it’s my life too, and it’s my safety, and it’s my image. And because I’m not publishing and signing my name on an opinion piece about how I support Germaine Greer speaking at Cardiff, because it would embarrass you, and I care about that, and I’d like you to care about how I feel in turn. And anyway, if we could slow down on the relentless pursuit of transgender activism long enough to have a frank, honest discussion at home, to talk about our needs, to compromise, it would help me, and maybe you could return to it later.
First you said yes. But you were lying to my face. Because you had just been featured in an article in the local newspaper to be published that weekend, without telling me of course. You intended to hide that article from me while pretending to acquiesce to my request. But someone showed it to me.
Then you said no. You can’t compromise on who you are, you said.
But while you can’t help being transgender, you can help whether or not you go to the papers about it. It isn’t really about getting what you need, is it? It’s about getting all of everything that sneaks into your little head, without a single compromise. It’s about getting all the publicity you can muster, all the social media praise you can extort.
It’s about getting a room full of men, and they are men, regardless of how much Max Factor Miracle Touch they’ve spackled on, to tell you that you’re brave, that you’re pretty, and to tell you over and over every day, because they want to hear it too. How can a compliment, a plea or a lifelong commitment from a stupid girl compete? You didn’t stand for my petitions for your sympathy. You rejected them wholesale.
When I proposed that you live as a woman, but not say you’re a woman — especially to say you are literally a woman, and expect me to agree, as if I don’t know what a woman is, and to expect me to lie to myself and to you and to everyone we meet about it forever — you refused.
When I told you that the only thing left that could possibly save us was honest and open communication, and the consideration of all my concerns, and a fearless and charitable response to those concerns, you shut down those conversations with all that was within you. You cried. You screamed. You declared some questions unanswerable and some topics off-limits. You spoke of suicide. You spouted rhetoric. You imagined persecution where there was none. You used the words “I will not hear this.”
Eventually, you told me that you would no longer talk.
You got away with it all. You couldn’t be bothered with any compromise whatsoever. I was never even a consideration; I was a means of support and a roadblock that you have now removed. You can choke yourself to death with hormones now if you like, without the inconvenience of someone who loves you looking on, worrying about you, trying to maintain intimacy with you.
You will surely tell everyone that I rejected you for being a transwoman. You will surely omit that you fell on your sword not for being transgender, which I fervently labored to accept, but for publicity, for praise, for compliments, for the use of certain words and phrases, for release from uncomfortable conversations, for unfettered access to anything and everything you might ever want.
Update, 2 years later: I must be psychic. Yes, he did just that, and more. He accused me of abuse and name-calling and hatred that I never did. Because telling people the truth, which was that I thought gender was a social construct and sex was a reality of consequence, just didn’t arouse in others the hatred for me that he was hoping for. Because as it turns out, that’s a mundane view that most people agree with.