You are currently browsing the archives for 10 November 2012.
Displaying 1 entry.


  • Posted on November 10, 2012 at 8:26 am

How much can you know how another person is feeling? ‘I’ve been there’ is reassuring, if you believe the person really has, or has been close enough. Sometimes, in a deep, spiritual way, you know you are very close to being understood or to understanding, but as I’ve written elsewhere here, sometimes the best you can do is sit close enough to another person and allow yourself to resonate, and see how it feels.

Resonance is a funny thing. It is reported that when Nicholas Tesla discovered the power of resonance he almost brought a whole building down with a tiny device. Too much resonance can be destructive: the wine glass and the opera singer; or it can be rather fun: singing in the bath, or finding that note in a tunnel. It can be peculiar too: I remember talking to a colleague in a stair well, and his voice simply hit the resonant frequency of the space and boomed, so we had to move to speak normally.

That’s why I have suggested that no-one can understand gender dysphoria who doesn’t have it. But I think more importantly, others don’t know how to understand their own reactions. We are confusing, and we undermine many things others have held to be true. Sit next to us too long, and our natural tone might shake your self-understanding to bits. So what does it take to stick around long enough to know you won’t lose your own integrity? What does it take, to see the person, with the dysphoria, know their pain, and know your love for them still reaches through all that, and find them unthreatening to self? What does it take, to know that love is attached to something very different than the outer layers, and that staying vulnerable to them will allow them to love you without destroying your integrity, self-belief and credibility?

All the time, partnerships and marriages are falling apart, with anger, accusations, a lot of fear, distrust, as a result of gender dysphoria. In the fallout it is the ‘normal’ people who return to ‘normal’ relationships, shake off the weird episode, leave it behind and find what they think of as abiding love. Those who transition so often simply lose. They learn to live without partnership, without intimacy, without that one most trusted, most vulnerable person to love, without the daily reassurance and comfort, and grow strong, singular. It isn’t about loneliness, and it isn’t about becoming hardened. It’s about knowing that you may never again be desired, wanted, reached for, given to, taken. You stand on your own two feet, and trust yourself, protecting your vulnerabilities and try not to remember too vividly what it was to be loved completely. You rationalise that love was not what you thought it was, that it was attached to the wrong part; rope glued onto the paintwork rather than tied securely.

Who understands what it feels like to find the most precious, authentic expression of the best of yourself, the source of all the most profound feelings, hope and love you have ever had and shared, and be excluded because of it? To know that another would rather have no loving, no intimacy, no partnership or companionship, no shared memories – than ever have that with you again, if you are going to be like this.

This is not a recriminatory blog, though it is how things are. No, it is because – having read all the books of how trans* people have pulled through, leaving the wreckage of marriages and partnerships behind, all the stories of how impossible it is to hang onto love when your bud opens and the flower is wrong – it has felt that it is simply a tough fact that being trans* means losing those you love most. People don’t want to be changed by us – something I wrote on a long way back now. If I love you, you will make me gay/lesbian/bi (whatever I most fear imagining). Or: If I accept you, I shall be seen to be too liberal/tolerant of this … behaviour.

And then, too late, two books turn up in quick succession. I promise reviews of both, because I’d like you to read them.

The first to be published is Emma Canton’s If you Really Loved me. The second is Laura Newman’s A Love Less Ordinary: Sharing Life, Laughter and Handbags with My Transgender Partner.

Each is a deep personal exploration of that primary issue: what is the trans* partner doing to me by saying they must change? Yes; transition in a partnership is about two people transitioning. What will it make me, and what right do they have to expect me to be different? In sum, each is an exploration of what it really means to love another person, how that love is attached, what it is attached to, and whether it is, in the end, that important to you.