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  • Posted on June 28, 2014 at 9:00 am

Because you were the one with whom I knew the need
to scream, and cry, unfathomable, come to you to feed.

Like the one who had been there, when rich, in health—
and now such sickness of this heart, diminished wealth

because yours were the breasts I held, loved, blessed
and envied, reliably, faithfully, each night at rest

because you were the one whose girls’ nights out
meant anything but me—at home alone in doubt

changing, glamorous, unnoticed, pearl in shell,
waiting to be pierced, for the wand, the spell.


Because I wanted you to be the one to say
that I look lovely in my dress and pearls

because I wanted you to see the change in me
that makes me wholly one of all the girls

because I wanted you to be the one to hold
my breasts, admiring how they’ve grown

because I wanted you to be the one just there
bonded, welcoming, to this my home.

Like our babies you bore, whose unnerving screams
and unfathomable nights destroyed our dreams.


2013 © Andie Davidson

Who does she think I am?

  • Posted on April 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Nearly two years ago, just before I decided I had to leave my home and walk away from my marriage, I tried to write from my wife’s perspective. I wrote Who does she think she is? It was an honest attempt to see what it was like for a husband to be replaced by an intruder, a woman, uninvited. At the time we were in therapy, and she objected to this post, despite its caveat, and asked that I remove it. One of our therapists said no, it was my valid experience and expression. I still feel that I captured something, even if it wasn’t my wife’s voice as she would have written it herself.

This question: ‘Who does she think I am?’ is again my imagined question, as if from my ex, in response to my protestations over the past few years. Again, I cannot claim to speak for her, I’m only trying to see the other side.

This week was bruising. I am a writer, and I can’t resist the urge to write. In my work I am meticulous in removing ambiguity, in my poetry I ‘show not tell’, deliberately introducing ambiguity. In my emails, at least with my ex, I am a terrible writer. I write when I should not, and I write in a way that is easily misunderstood, and probably show misunderstanding. I can hardly write dispassionately and objectively though, so I constantly make mistakes. Every time I attempt dialogue, she feels I’m invalidating her feelings, every time I try to stretch her imagination, I remind myself that it’s all over and that it is not my place to know her life as I used to. It is factually immaterial that I lost all family life, along with all we’d built together. It is not for me to claim that I lost more than she did, and there is no point speaking about the responsibility each of us shares. Everything has gone and we both lost. No-one won in this one.

And then an exchange on Facebook about trans suicide rates came up. Add to the ‘at least attempted’ all those who considered it, and the score is horrifically high. Fundamentally it is because being transsexual robs you of your place in society, among friends, in your family, and wrecks a large slice of your personal life. Faced with the choice of being wanted or loved for what you are not, and being authentic whilst losing it all, sometimes the only way out is down.

Then an entry in the thread, by a wife, pulled me up short. Suicide can be for spouses and partners too.

It really is that big. Why should you have to change your world view? It’s an earthquake in your life; it is traumatic, unexpected and unwanted. ‘What have I done, for my very macho, strong, secure, masculine husband to be removing all his body hair and transforming into something that looks a bit like a woman, whilst claiming that’s what they are?’ How can you live with that? This person who used to love you as a man is willfully undermining everything you hold dear, every reason you loved them, becoming a stranger and negotiating very little. How can that be OK? You do not have to go along with it, and maybe your survival means detaching from it. No, I was not the macho husband-man, nor was my ex suicidal. But I still perceive the reaction:

It’s obvious, isn’t it?! Who does she think I am?

From the inside, from the other side

Never ask a transsexual person to understand what it is like to be ‘cis’. We honestly don’t know. We can only imagine from the other side of transition, when memories fade. And don’t ask us to remember like you do. We can’t. Every single one of us can only remember our past experience in terms of what it meant or felt like to be ‘me’, from the inside. I wrote to my ex: ‘In a land without mirrors, my face has become ugly, and everyone can see it except me.’ What I meant was not that I am completely unattractive, but that (a) from the inside I cannot really understand why no-one wants to get physically close to me any more, and that (b) all my memories are from the inside of me, whilst everyone else’s memories of me are of the outside.

But I do still try to understand the impact of my transition, and I don’t take it lightly. Grief, rather than belligerence, mars my understanding. I do know that my wife had a man as a husband, and that this was the deal. Had I known at the time that I was born with gender dysphoria, I hope I would have been honest and dealt with it then. I would not have enjoyed 30 years living with my wife; we would never have married, because she was not looking for a woman. She would not have looked twice at me, and today, perhaps we would simply be writing occasional letters as friends from university days.

I am responsible for dissolving the husband/man façade in front of her eyes, pleading, yes, to be seen as a person not as a strictly gendered accessory. From my perspective, I can’t see why sex is so confined, and why people aren’t more attractive than their bodies. I can’t see why intimacy has to be hetero-binary. I can’t, because this is not the land I live in. But I do know that in her land, the ‘normal’ land, this is exactly how it is. Adam and Eve, Tarzan and Jane, and that is the way that most of us are made. It isn’t about the intellectual explanation, or the analysis I’ve been at pains to work through on this blog. It isn’t open to persuasion. My land is not her land, and she’s gone home. We went to the border, and she waved me off. If I was writing an apologetic for my country, then as a writer I failed, I was unpersuasive. That pen must now finally be put down.

If I have anything to say to you dear reader, if you have a transsexual spouse, or know someone who has, we may be unable to escape our gender dysphoria, but it does not mean we don’t try to understand how it is for you. It is just that authenticity comes first, and we have been forced finally to face inescapable realities that we have no choice than to embrace. You have that choice, and we cannot presume to make it for you. I hope your love is of a kind that prevails, but sadly it is rare, and you would not be unusual.

I argued a long time back to my then wife, that in the land of the blind, my hands would still feel the same, and love would not be turned away. I just see things differently, and as much as I cannot describe the colour blue to you, other than by attaching it to things, so I must accept that I could never describe my world to her. Her land is her land, and I no longer have a passport, but she has a life to lead, and maybe I’d just better not try to meet through the wire.

Which reminds me of a poem some while ago: Losing my touch (I counted on you).

Come promise; compromise

  • Posted on March 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm

‘The government has vowed …’ It’s what? I hear and notice it a lot and wonder what it means. A vow is, depending on your dictionary, a solemn promise, and earnest promise, a serious one, a personal one. It seems in origin to have religious overtones, in other words a promise that your god hears and will hold you to. It’s really about your best intent. Of course for many of us the first and only vows we are asked to make are marriage vows. How lovely that in modern ceremonies you can devise your own, word them as you…


  • Posted on February 23, 2014 at 8:57 am

This poem is from my book Realisations, which I still feel is an important chapter for my life and those involved with coming to terms with being trans*, or a partner emerging as trans*. I’ve added it now because it’s an elegant expression in context of my thoughts on relationships, more than ten years on from this event.

The accusing angle of her finger
suspends distaste – and a stocking.
No relief wrapped in a reply
can change this gift,
this poison present.

Her fear.
Two answers hang
neither the better truth
she doesn’t want to know
the other woman
whose lace-edged discovery
invades her home.

His delight
slips from her finger
curls foetal on the floor
its elegance as lost as words.
Its lie even worse.
He wills it to rise and run,
be unfound before she speaks
or fear to anger springs tears.

His faithfulness
so complete, so safe,
worthless as any words.
‘It’s mine.’


2011 © Andie Davidson

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.