Saturday, March 17, 2007

Background -- Part Five (The Wife Letter)

This will be the last of the background elements for a while.

One of the most difficult aspects of transitioning for me has been dealing with Wife. I have gone between intense happiness and utmost despair in my dealings with her alone.

At one point, I literally had a compulsion to run into the street and get hit by a car. The only thing that stopped me was I couldn't find my shoes.

In truth, I think that she and I will eventually be friends. But I am not expecting it, and I'm basically on the defensive, and she is on the defensive, and thanks to a promise I made, we haven't discussed this for a long while.

She released me from that promise.

The single point of contention we have is Son. Both of us are, well, fiercely dedicated to him. However, I cannot provide, personally, the thing she wants for him: a strong male role model.

Or, actually, I can, but if things go well, I'll look like a girl, so it'll be somewhat difficult, lol.

As I write this preface, my plan right now is to present androgynously around my Son, and retain that Role, should I succeed in my quest to achieve visitation, and he is willing.

Son is aware. I handled it very poorly, however, and he's essentially joined my step children, thus far.  If he ceases that by the time I get back home, I will be ecstatic -- but if I am cut off, utterly, then I shall be so.

What follows is the letter of explanation that I gave to my wife.  It didn't work.




In a couple hours I'll see you again in order to finish a task we started last week.

When we started this task, we went to breakfast and I started talking and said some things that were poorly timed and hurt you and were unexpected.

Later in the week, you said that you felt as if you had been dumped. I Told you were not, and tried, perhaps poorly, to express some of the things I wanted you to know.

Even later, we spoke again, and I told you I wouldn't bring up the "weird" stuff any more.

I'm sorry, but this is a letter about the weird stuff. I won't bring it up myself outside of this letter, but I will, as always, answer anything you ask and talk about it otherwise on your terms.

I love you, Wife. That's not false, that's not a lie.  That's true down to the deepest core of my being.

I love you enough to give you up, utterly. Despite the pain it will cause me. I love you enough to want to hold on to you with all my strength and by any means possible.

I don't want to lose you. But With knowing this, I don't know what to do.

I know you are scared, and hurt, and angry, and frustrated, and dealing with way too much other crap right now to have the ability to deal with this.

I have to write this letter. There are things that I need to see in front of me and things I need to express and a lot of things I need to explain ahead of time because there are things involved here that I have never told anyone about, ever, period, until now.

I am going to tell you things about me that are going to be weird. Remember, however, that the same things you think are weird are the same things I have thought of as weird.

Remember, please, that I am still me. I am doing something very uncharacteristic of me, as well: I am letting someone peek into my head.

I don't often do that. You know that. Now you will know why.

I suffer from something called Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria. I prefer Gender Dysphoria.

It is presently listed as a medical condition, but due to the nature of this particular problem, it is not one that society has the ability to deal with at present.

Gender Dysphoria has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. Nothing. Indeed, it has nothing to do with sex. I reiterate again, I am not gay. Indeed, I am somewhat homophobic (that is, I have a dislike for gay people in general that has no real reason or basis in truth).

The cause of this medical condition is not known. The current theory for it is based, from what I have learned of late, on examination of what goes into the creation of the various kinds of people who are called "intersexed" - those people they once called hermaphrodites.  IT deals with the fact that our sense of being a male or a female is not entirely determined by the XY chromosomes, and that there are a great many other factors beside that which determine our maleness and our femaleness.

There are women all over the world who are born every day who are not XX chromosome women. Their chromosomes are XY.  These people often do not find out about their not being XX until they are adults.

These women suffer from something called androgen insensitivity syndrome. While in the womb, something happens and what is supposed to be a boy baby basically develops out as a girl, because the hormones which change the physical body don't work properly -- the baby is, for lack of a better term, allergic to testosterone.

They grow up with a wide variety of issues, but, basically, they are generally sterile but always female.

That's not me, but I tell you because in finding out about these things, that's the best example of just how strange things can get when it comes to gender development.

In the case of someone with Gender Dysphoria, it is presently believed that since there are different times when things occur in the brain, that something went wrong or didn't fully complete in the brain in terms of developing one's gender identity -- your personal sense of your gender.

For the overwhelming majority of people in the world, this isn't an issue, and is so fundamentally ingrained in them that they never sense it or realize it.

And yet, for as long as there have been written records, there have been people who didn't quite fit in.

In some societies (the Navajo, for example) these people are allowed to be what they are, and are considered a sort of "third gender". In all cases, this isn't something new, and it is not considered a psychological problem.

That is, this isn't something like depression or schizophrenia of some sort. It isn't caused by a chemical imbalance that can be corrected with drugs, it isn't something that can changed or avoided.

There is a cure, though. And, like most cures, it doesn't change a person in and of itself, and it is up to the individual as to whether or not they take the cure.

So why now?

Well, hon, it isn't now. Its been all my life.

Its been with me for as long as I can remember back, and although I bury it and I hide it, it is there every day and every night.

I had an idea about it being "fixable" when I was very young -- 10 or 12 or something.  There was a story on the news.  It talked about someone who had done something about it in Europe.

I paid attention, though. I've always paid attention. I just never realized that there was anything that *I* could do about it for myself.

Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of this, and the best way I can explain it to you is to use the thing that has given me the most grief in my life.

This has made every single day for me start sad.

When I was very little, I saw Pinocchio and I read fairy tales and I always remember the ones where the hero of the story gets a chance to make a wish. And if they wish hard enough and long enough and never give up faith (--hmm, faith, sound familiar?), that that wish would come true.

I am 41 years old, Wife. An adult. Reasonably mature, fairly well educated.

And I Still wish every night that tomorrow I will wake up as a girl.

I have done this for as long as I can remember.

That includes while I've been with you. But, in an interesting twist, I've always added you into my wish. Because I love you. You are the person with whom I have the greatest bond I can ever have.

In the wish I have with you, you wake up as a man. With me. And, since its a wish, of course everything is just fine and dandy and life goes on.

The only reason I ever wish that, is because I never want to lose you. I can understand a lot of things, and you know I'm pretty damned reasonable when I want to be, and that I can often foresee things by thinking them through.

So I know that should I chose to go for this cure, in the end, things can't be like they are between us now.  Neither of our personal histories and the way we were raised basically would affect our ability to deal with it effectively, and that's not even thinking about how the world around us would react, let alone the other concerns.

We have talked about many things over the years. I mean, lets face it: for all my highly touted intelligence, I'm a total freaking basket case. We've always said I'm just "eccentric" and let it go.

One of the things we can't let go, however, is my anger issue.

Do you remember when I told you about my mother telling me about when I first started having my anger issues?  About how she had to "take Brother away from me" and I didn't speak to her for a year?

Remember how I told you that felt when she said that?  How it was a truth that reached in and touched me and I knew that was the source of my anger?

Well, it went a bit deeper.

Because there was more to it.

And when I finally realized that I couldn't keep it buried any longer and had to accept it for what it was, The tight knot of my anger unraveled in my chest and went away.

For 20 utterly wonderful, totally beautiful, amazingly wonderful days, I lost the ability to lose my temper. In fact, I had no temper. No rage, no underlying fury that had me thinking bad thoughts about random people in the street.

In those last 20 days, I have learned a great deal about this problem.  And it has helped me even more in identifying some of the things that are underlying a lot of my other issues - the stuff that has made me a mess.

Like my sense of not being worthy. My sense of not deserving success. My sense of using my clothing as a shield. My lack of interest in my personal appearance. My use of films and television as an example of how men should act.  My discomfort around groups of men. My ability to function reasonably well in a traditionally female environment (retail).

People have always thought I was gay.

My own mother looked at me one day and asked me, point blank, if I was gay. Even telling me it was ok if I was.

You did.

Mike did.

Most of the people we know have thought I was gay at some point or other. My own family has long suspected I'm gay. Even my gay Uncle Troy.


I've always known I wasn't gay.

I've also always known, but wasn't always able to express that I was something else.

The reason is that despite the fact I have a fairly underdeveloped male body (my hands and feet are small for my size, I'm pretty hairless, and a few other things) and I've always thought I was behaving in accordance with what was expected of me as a male, I'm still somewhat "female" in a lot of things I do and in the way that I act. My interests aren't "male" interests -- even for an eccentric.

You saw it -- or at least, that's how I interpreted it when you said so. I should have stopped and asked for more clarification on what you meant.

You accepted me, however, for who I am. And you know that I accept you, unconditionally, for who you are. That's a sort of requirement for me. We talked about that a lot. Not directly, but indirectly.

For me, love is utter and total. There can be no middle ground. I accept a person into my heart for the sum total of all that they are, and the only way they can get out of it is to shut me out and away.

You know I never felt loved by my mom.  I knew she loved me, but I never felt it.

And the reason is that She never accepted me for who I was inside when I was a very little kid. IT was a long time ago, but the scars from it remain.

She did, of course. I know that, as an adult, on a rational level. But that old rage wasn't rational, and it wasn't started in an adult who can read and understand what they are facing.

But that was what sat there for so long, and was always there between my mother and I.

That was why they didn't think the marriage would last, btw. They thought I was gay, doing it for them to cover something up.

I don't love easily, Wife. The people I love have special qualities about them. Rare ones. Compassion. Understanding. Intelligence. Wit.

And, usually, some deep pain that they are feeling.

I've felt this pain all my life, and never let anyone know about it.

Often not even myself.

Although these days most people with Gender Dysphoria have figured it out by the time they are 25 (or at least that's how it seems to me now, lol), that's not always the case.

I can show you a site by a computer engineer that establishes that the incidence of this among males is rare, but not all that rare.

What I can also show you is something that hurts me so deeply I'm having serious issues in dealing with it.

When people don't come to terms with it -- especially people who were raised in the 70's and 80's, such as myself, when anything that even *seemed* like this was basically utterly shocking and immediately laughed and scorned and humiliated in public ways that even today give me such a sense of fear that even I have a hard time considering it -- they creating coping mechanisms and denial tools to deal with it.

They hide it, they bury it, they don't think about it. They do things to their bodies. Many commit suicide, without anyone ever knowing why. Some think they are gay and get lost in that horror.

Some reach a sort of half way acceptance. They are males, they like it, but they have a very strong sense of the female in  them and cross dress. I've read some people think that they might be suffering from a less strong sense of Dysphoria. They are categorized in much the same way.

Then there are some like me. Conservative. They react to it in much the same way that someone born with a birth defect reacts to it. They withdraw into their heads. since the body is beyond them, they develop their minds.

I live in my head.  You've said it enough, you know it, lol.  I say it a lot, too. My body is pretty much the vessel. For the most part, I hide it. I avoid looking at it. I cover it up and then use my clothing as a shield, as a sort of armor.

I never look at myself full on. I focus on small areas.

I grow my nails out from time to time longer than is "common" for men. I have always supported women's issues.

I exist, online, as a woman.

Let me explain something about that, as well.

You know I do that. I told you so.

What I've never told you, although I think you suspect, is that I'm much more "at home" there, in that role. It has been my escape, and while it was great, it isn't the same. And for you to have allowed it to me, and accepted it, well, I love you all the more for that.

I don't cross dress. I have, mind you, but nothing within any sense of the term of recent. With one exception, I've not cross dressed since I was in my early 20's. In each case, I was left with strong feeling s of shame, humiliation, and fear.

My mother walked in on me one morning wearing one of her dresses. Shawn saw and sniggered. I will never forget his laugh.

My mother was shocked, went and found some books, had no idea what to do.

I was mortified. Utterly humiliated.

I have more fingers than I have times I've crossdressed.

And yet, with the exception of shoes, I know my sizes.

Why is it I can say without any problem that I will never chat on you? I can not only say it, I can mean it.

My body is my body. It suffers from the usual male urges and issues and needs. It works pretty well for a male body. I find it ugly.

When I lost my hair, I lost a lot of hope. I surrendered to what I felt was, basically, an utter impossibility, and tried to bury that wish as deeply as I possibly could.

I did consider treatments. I've long been tempted to get minoxidil and all that.

But I knew that if I did, it might prompt me to go "farther".

When we got married, I had a strong "tell" -- that is, I had something that let me feel my femaleness while still presenting myself to the world as a male.

My tail.

That was a significant thing, letting you cut it off. It had to be you, as well. I love you. I trust you. No one else on the planet would have been allowed.

I wanted to be what you wanted of me.

I'm sorry, love.

It made me miserable, and it dragged you with me, and now I've ruined your life and I have no way of ever changing it.

And from it came one thing I wouldn't trade for all the world: Son.

Parenting means a lot to me. We share so much in common, and this is one of those things.

Something I never really expressed is how utterly and unimaginably envious I was of you. And still am.

You carried him. You birthed him in blood and sweat and tears. I almost missed him arrive, off in a different place trying not to sob my heart out in envy and an utter sense of loss that I could never have expressed and be understood over.

When he was born, Every inch of my being was focused on him. And there in the back of my head was a fear that he would be like me.

He is. But not in this way. And for that I am immeasurably thankful. He is all boy. He might be gay, of course, but he's not got my issue. And I wouldn't wish this on anyone but my absolute worst enemies.

It has destroyed my life, Wife. Everything I have ever done has been touched by either my denial of it or my inability to come to terms with it.

Including you.

I'm 41 now. In a few short months, I will be 42. On or about that time, I will need to make a decision.

When I first realized that this is my issue, and that I've finally managed to accept it, I need to tell you, flat out.

I was certain -- and I still am, to be frank -- that you would, and will, take Jacob away from me. Refuse to let him see me. Refuse to have anything to do with me, yourself.

I knew this.

Every story you ever read about this says the same thing.  Its not possible. Yes, there are some who stay together and figure it out and whatever. Even a couple of books about it.

But, really?


I knew it. I had to accept it.

It was part of the whole deal.  In order for me to just exist, based on what I knew at that time, I basically have to give up everything I love and care about, and there goes the last of anything that means anything to me.

There goes you. There goes Son.

There goes the only remnant of a family I have.

The girls would be revolted. A* would be stunned. Your parents would be outraged.

The people I love most. The ones that were everything I had left of value in the world, and I sat there for two days and typed and cried and typed and cried.

To be able to simply accept myself, with all my problems and faults and issues, I had to be willing to give up everything, Wife. Or else continue to screw myself and those around me up with my rage and my hurt and my sadness and my depressions.

Where does my sharpness of focus come from? My ability to shut out everything but what it is I'm working on?

From my need to deny and ignore what is going on inside me.

There were days when it was overwhelming.

You called them "bad thoughts".

That stung. After finally realizing that I wasn't having bad thoughts -- that this isn't something I can just wish away, that it is something that I have had forever, that it is a source of shame and rage and fear and silence and dishonesty.

And you called them bad thoughts.

So I had to find out if I could let you go.

I can.

Its rather interesting. In my life, I have had my children and loved ones taken from me pretty consistently.

Brother was taken from me.

My cats were taken from me.

J1 was taken from me.

My daughter was taken from me.

Now I have you and Son taken from me. Only this time, and by now, the losses are so great and so heavy and so damned always there in my mind that what the hell, more pain might as well come, get it over with and maybe I can just start all over again before I die like my mom at 59.

Resignation does that. I resigned myself to the fact that you would/will hate me. That The few moments I have left with Jacob are probably all I'll ever have, and so each one is ever so much more precious to me.

The love I feel for you will never leave me. And I will always carry you in my heart.

That's what I expect. To some extent, given that I trapped you in a lie I wanted to make true -- that I was a boy inside and out -- I deserve it. Had I known before I met you that this was my problem and been able to face it and accept it, I never would have done this to you.

But I didn't.

So that's what I expect.

What do I hope for?

I hope that this is not the case. I hope that you will continue to love me as much as I love you. I hope that you will be with me as I go through this and that you will talk to me and help me and if I do choose to take the cure -- which is hard and terrible and wicked and makes what we've gone through look like a walk in the park -- that even though we will probably not be able to go forward in some ways, in others we can.

I hope that Jacob will still be a part of my life.

I hope that I can find a little bit of happiness of a sort of never felt.

I hope that I can squeeze these lemons fast enough and add enough sugar.

I hope I can stop screwing my life and the lives of those around me up. Have a nice normal life. despite the abnormal part about getting there.

There is still a lot I don't understand, and a lot I don't know, and I'm going to be learning about it for a while.

I don't want to be Son's mommy, though.

You are momma. I'm dada.

I'm told there is grieving for loss involved in this process. And I can see and understand why. To some extent, I'm grieving for the same things.

I told you that God doesn't make mistakes. And I meant that. It's even noted in the bible in several places (both old and new testaments).  There are also tales about how Jesus was asked about why there are people born blind and others born without limbs, and how God could allow such things.

And the answers are usually along the lines of to teach us acceptance in adversity. To show us what to be thankful for. To build character or set us on a path.

To test us -- in our faith, in our ability to persevere, in our willingness to learn and adapt.

God's pretty good about that.

So what is the cure? Why is this decision so utterly serious?

The cure is called "transition".  From what I've read so far, it is basically a series of steps governed by a document called the Standards Of Care originally published in 1969.

The first step is initial therapy. 3 Months of it at the least to determine and identify the degree of the problem and any other issues related to it (such as anger management, depression, stuff like that).

After that, the therapist, if its felt the proper course and the individual consents, sends the person off to an endocrinologist, who will prescribe a regimen of hormones.

During this time, the individual takes various steps to deal with what is generally considered the most traumatic part of the process: learning to adapt to a new gender role.

Workplace issues, family issues, and personal issues all collide. There are also some optional surgeries and things like hair removal done during this time.

Once the individual is ready, something called the Real Life Experience is undertaken. Note that this is done before surgery of any sort. The absolute soonest it can happen is probably about a year after starting, but that requires a lot of money upfront.

The RLE is basically the person stepping entirely into their new role and living for a period of one year as their "new" gender. 100% of the time. Doing everything. They change their name, they change their records, they do all those things -- basically converting their life over to the new gender and living it.

After that year, they have to see a second therapist, with different credentials, and from both of the get letters saying that its ok to do the surgery.

Then that final surgery is performed.

They remain on hormones for the rest of their life.

The number of people who "change their minds" is less than 2% of the known people, and there are many, many, many more people who are unknown.

The unknown ones live in what is called "stealth". They want a life that is normal. Many never tell anyone. In fact, most are that way. After losing their families and friends to it being too weird, they just move to a new place and start from scratch and never have anything to do with their old lives ever again.

They cannot have children.

If they are not stealth, they often cannot legally marry. Interestingly enough, they can't marry period - they get an unfair treatment in the courts that says since they were born one sex, they cannot marry someone of that same sex, but despite having changed their sex, they cannot marry someone who matches their current sex, either.

Adoption is even more difficult for them than it is for homosexual people.

And yet, most of them are successful and happy.

There are some, however, that get trapped. They go to see a therapist or doctor who doesn't know about the SoC, or who has issues with the idea (too weird).

They end up in bad places. Sex work. Porn. Jerry Springer.

They end up losing their fight for a sense of self because they have no one to help them.

Often, they end up beaten, or raped, or killed.

They are the ones on the news.

There are a lot of wonderful stories by many of them out there trying to make a life for themselves right now.

And they are everywhere.

Odds are we've met some and never known. Part of the reason for this is that one of the best doctors in the world for the final surgery is located here.

The average cost for everything for someone my age (everything including living expenses) is about 75,000 over 4 years.  None of it is covered by insurance.

I have written a great deal of my thoughts and worries and fears and angers and hopes and many other things about this down.

Through all of them runs a constant and ongoing thought:

Will Wife love me, or hate me?

Among the things I've researched as well are the impact of such a thing on the children.

There's even been serious medical studies done.

There is no chance of this "infecting" the children. It is not something one decides to do. That includes teenagers, younger children, and adult children.

Children are affected by the behavior of the parents.  If one parent is very negative, then the children are mixed. It pretty much the same as it would be in a divorce in any case, unless the couple stays close (or together in some cases).

One thing the doctors noted was that in the case of FTMs (which is what I would be if I choose to transition), there is no discernable impact on the social masculinization of the child. That is, even though the men became women, the children still developed with standard male responses (or female in the case of daughters).

So the role model remains.

The downside is that if it became "public" -- that is, if the child's peers were made aware of the issue -- then the children faced the typical ridicule.

I got a lot of that growing up. It sucks.

So what else is there for options besides "the cure"?

1 - I can remain as I am. Aware of the issue.

2 - I can partially transition. Crossdressing is an example of partial transition.

3 - I can transition a bit more, taking hormones.

4 - I can transition most of the way, yet not have the surgery.

This never goes away. It cannot be medicated out of me. It is there. Always.

I don't know what I'll do.

All I know is that I'm deathly afraid of dying at 59 like my mom. And that I expect I will die about then.

Especially unhappily.

I have one last chance here, as I see it. Less than 20 years. If I transition, it will take up probably 5 to 8 of them unless I were to win the lottery.

I love you, Wife. That's not false, that's not a lie.  That's true down to the deepest core of my being.

I love you enough to give you up, utterly. Despite the pain it will cause me. I love you enough to want to hold on to you with all my strength and by any means possible.

I don't want to lose you. But With knowing this, I don't know what to do.

I know you are scared, and hurt, and angry, and frustrated, and dealing with way too much other crap right now to have the ability to deal with this.

And I won't bring it up again, this weird stuff, unless you ask about it.



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