I was disappointed to read in Helen Boyd’s blog that people have been attacking Christine Benvenuto for writing about the destruction of her marriage.
I was also very disappointed that Helen’s main solution was “People need to transition younger so that some of this can be prevented.”
That’s it? Transition younger?
I was glad that Helen posted (in comment number 3 on her post) a poignant anonymous reply from a closeted, non-transitioning trans person, that included a call for better counseling:
Treatment has at least gotten to the point that no one seems to believe that you can reroute our brains back to our genetically assigned sex. But the truth is, I simply don’t see anything in “treatment” that is helping us to find a path in the binary world that we don’t feel like we belong to. I love my wife and I love my family. There has to be some type of counseling to help the “responsible” TG family person and their families move to a place of less discomfort, less of the all or nothing options that seem are there for us today. Solid and consistent counseling to help us is desperately needed. It seems as though so few of us ever find peace with who we are, and to be pushed to choices that are also quite binary (closet or transitioned) seems ludicrous to me.
Sure, some people could avoid this particular class of tragedy by transitioning younger. But others, including people who missed their chance to transition younger, have chosen not to transition. They – we – can honor that choice, that commitment that we made to ourselves and our loved ones, and do what it takes to keep that commitment while still honoring, loving and respecting ourselves.
We can learn that transgender feelings are not static, but rather change with circumstances. We can learn about gender fog and the slippery slope, and how they affect our feelings and actions. We can structure our lives so that we enjoy them the way we chose to enjoy them, with the people that we love.
This is not repression. It’s not self-denial. It doesn’t mean being in the closet, hating yourself, living a lie. You can be out, trans and proud without transitioning. You can be true to your self. You can have the authentic life that the Transgender Law Center promises us.
And just like gay marriage doesn’t “destroy” heterosexual marriage, choosing to live as an out trans person without transitioning will not destroy other people’s transitions.
Is it disappointing? Of course. Is it frustrating? You bet. But it’s not depressing, and it’s not a life full of fear and despair. Show me the transgender life that doesn’t have its frustrations and disappointments. Show me the human life that doesn’t.
People can do this. It’s not for everyone. But for a lot of trans people it’s the best option. And the anonymous commenter is right that we need expert counseling. I’m not talking about reparative therapy or any of that self-denial shit. We need people who can help us navigate a path between repression and family disintegration, to avoid the slippery slope and identity fatigue, and to cope with gender fog. We need this to be included in the menu of “transgender health” options offered by clinics and covered by insurance.
Before we can do this, though, we need one very important thing. We need to smash transgender essentialism. We need to get rid of the idea that every transgender person has to transition. Transition helps a lot of people, but it’s not the only choice, and it’s not the best choice for some of us.
If you agree, please comment, link and reblog this, and post your own thoughts. And then, every time you see something that implies or assumes that all transgender people transition, please question it. Nothing will change if we perpetuate that fiction. If you do, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll have your back.