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Ex-communication and divorce

  • Posted on February 1, 2014 at 8:38 am

This week, nearly three weeks after the fact, I received a letter. I was already divorced and hadn’t known it. I had even written of it prospectively when it had already happened. What a strange thing. Everyone talks about divorce, some with bitter thankfulness, including those with several to their name, but this one is ‘mine’. And yet I still don’t want to own it. It was handed to me, and at the time of initiation it was a requirement, without which I could not be fully documented with a gender recognition certificate.

It wasn’t so much a door closing as standing in front of an already closed door and hearing the footsteps die away on the other side. Is there any reason any more to communicate? My ex (no longer just my PSO – previously significant other), had always said there was no reason not to be friends again, but so far has remained cold and distant. I don’t yet fully appreciate that I was never truly loved simply for myself, despite countless thousands of moments of intimacy and expressions of love. I was not my body, nor am I now. She does not yet fully appreciate that the person she loved was always a woman, and that my body was everything, my soul nothing. It’s not a criticism; it’s normal. I perceive coldness; love-amnesia. She perceives anger and resentment, not grief and profound disappointment.

Excommunication has happened. Ex-communication has not.


It is three years ago that I was preparing to leave my last job under redundancy terms. If I had known then how things would be now, I might have been less able to make this change. I am glad I did not know. I’ve got some things right and some things wrong. I’ve been a difficult friend to some and a novelty or curiosity to many. Of the people I’ve encountered in these three years, most will never have knowingly met a transsexual woman until me. I have learned, they have learned. Those unwilling to communicate or get close, those who have excommunicated me (or themselves) have been afraid that knowing me, being associated with me, or loving me, would change them, making them as socially anomalous as they perceive me to be. But just as I have written several times here, whilst our appearance and attitudes can change, we all remain the same people throughout life events. Some of us face this and dismiss our fears, others face the fear and close the door on opportunities to grow or embrace new life.

I regret ‘my’ divorce enormously. I thought love and commitment were forever and I was wrong (yes, W H Auden’s Stop all the clocks is very resonant for me). I am still adjusting my understanding of love, and realising how terribly lonely this life is if souls don’t meet.

And so I have often wondered why gender has to be everything in a love relationship. I am in the very vast majority in losing my marriage, and happy as I am for every one that holds together, it hurts that mine didn’t. Would better counseling for families and partners make any difference? There is even less support for them than there is for us, but I’m not sure whether it would help anyway. We both read the books, life stories, academic research, and all the rest. My ex was a trained counselor, and we spent a fortune and many hours in deep therapy together. None of this made any difference. Was I just hoping it would ‘change her mind’? Maybe I was, but above all I wanted her simply to see that I was just me, and that as a person I was just the same, and just as worth being close to, committed to and supported by. As being loved by.

I guess that is the hurt. You are a woman? I cannot love a woman. You always were a woman? I never really loved you at all, then, only what I thought you were. You will find someone else, just don’t expect it to be me. Yes, that hurts.


Divorce in this context is annulment. It is finding your heavily-insured Rembrandt is a worthless copy. It isn’t ‘I don’t love you anymore’ so much as ‘If I’d known, I never would.’ I feel that my love and my love-worthiness has been completely devalued and become worthless, empty. I still have my love for her, but it is like coinage for Samarkand in my pocket.

As I run my fingers through my now lovely hair, and feel how thin it is on top, I wonder how it could have been if I had grown up in a world that had acknowledged transsexuality when I needed it. I feel caught in the nick of time in several ways.

And then I recall one of my psychiatrists ending the session with: ‘And are you happy?’ My spontaneous response was: ‘If I’d known I was allowed to be this happy, I would have done this a long time ago.’ So do I regret loving someone as I have, and raising a family, and being ‘father’ in my own way? No, I don’t. What I really wish is that all of us had been aware of transsexuality and understood that it doesn’t make the person, it just makes them a different configuration from cissexuality. I wish that we had all understood that what makes a family, that what makes for loving, committed relationships is not perceived gender but a wealth of much deeper things.

This, then, is a turning point for me. There is no longer any need to communicate with my ex. We may, we may not, but it isn’t up to me any more. A final statement on her love has been made, underlined, and presented with an official red stamp in the corner. This is the reality of being born transsexual.