Tag Archive: relationships


chickenlifeIt’s Mother’s Day again,
But my hopes are very low
For a present or a card
Or a call to say hello.

For I am not a standard Mum
And you’ve decided not to know me.
All those adverts on the telly
Aren’t aimed at male Mummies.

So I’m visiting MY Mum instead,
Who will offer me her shoulder,
Say it’s nothing I’ve done wrong,
And you’ll come round when you’re older.

Til then I’m stuck without you,
Forced to smile when people say
“You don’t have children, do you?”
I make it seem like it’s ok.

 

So here we are on Mother’s Day.
I’m feeling rather shitty.
But I’m not writing this to say ‘poor me’,
Or fish for anyone’s pity.

More to say that three years on
I’m still the same old Mum.
Ok, I’ve got hair in funny places
And a considerably smaller bum.

Male or female, I’m still the one
Who kissed away your tears.
Gender doesn’t dictate the warmth of a hug
Or whether someone cares.

But now I’m sent to Coventry, frozen out.
You act like I have died.
I just hope love will span the distance
And you’ll come back to my side.

In the meantime, here’s to all those Mums
Who won’t be getting a card
Or flowers, choccies, breakfast in bed.
Mother’s Day is hard.

Rainbow FishIt’s been a long time since I last blogged. I’ve been trying to think of things to write about that aren’t a) me bleating about how lonely I feel as a singleton or b) an obvious attempt to write about something other than a).

I have now been officially single for 7 weeks. I have spent much of that time purchasing household goods, drinking rather a lot and thinking of things to do to fill the hours. It’s funny that, thinking back, my partner and I rarely ‘did’ things together to fill the evenings, but somehow having someone else in the house makes the hours go by faster. So I am now reading more, trying to force myself to sit down and watch TV and films (I’m not good at settling in one place for too long), colouring and accepting any invitations that come my way for social interaction.

I’m not a big ‘go-er out-er’ but even in my current state I recognise that talking to people is probably Rather A Good Thing. It would be easy to become a hermit, but I’m quite sensible really, and try to get out of the cave when I can. I’m not even quite such a Facebook Fiend as I was. I’ve not really had the get-up-and-go to engage even with social media with any sort of sparkle. Plus, of course, the temptation to stalk is high, so I’m best keeping my typing fingers to myself for now.

I am fortunate in having very good friends, and my family have rallied round in true family style. With the best will in the world, though, I really wish people wouldn’t say things like ‘There’s plenty more fish in the sea’. You see, I don’t really want another fish. I was quite happy with the Rainbow Fish I had, and I can’t imagine finding another sea creature quite like her. You don’t live with someone for over 8 years without becoming used to the way their scales glint in the sunlight, the way their fins move, the way they react when they’re dancing with the shoal, or when a shark approaches.

That’s not to say that I can’t imagine that at some point in the future a passing haddock with a glint in their eye may tempt me. But at the moment I cannot imagine trusting a new fish, and more immediately, I cannot face the prospect of having to explain myself, my gender identity, my sexuality, my physical peculiarities, my head space and my habits to anyone else. I’d got too comfortable, perhaps, and starting again is terrifying.

I am assured by the very lovely people in my life, both ‘real’ and online, that given a few months I’ll start to feel better and want to peer out of my patch of sea-weed and check out the passing traffic. In the meantime I shall be concentrating on keeping well and keeping on swimming.

Conversation with doctor:
“So, is your partner bisexual?”
“No, she’s a lesbian”
“Oh, not even a little bit attracted to men?”
“No, definitely not”
*long pause*
“That’s going to present big problems for your relationship as you transition.”

Well, that doctor wasn’t the first to suggest that me transitioning would signal the end of my loving relationship of (at that point) six years, and certainly won’t be the last. I’m not so naive that I don’t realise that historically not that many relationships make it after one half of the couple goes through transition. I do realise that as we change emotionally and physically, our relationships change too, sometimes just moving too much away from the core that held the couple together in the first place for the relationship to stay viable.

I know this. But as it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, I want to make a plea…don’t write us off. Don’t assume the worst. Don’t sit by the phone waiting for the bad news. Because it doesn’t happen to everybody.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs (fnar) of my sexuality, and that of my partner. I think we covered that in my earlier post So, does that make you both straight now? Suffice it to say that I identify as queer, and my partner identifies as a queer lesbian. For a definition of what the word ‘queer’ means to us (and won’t necessarily for everybody), please see the Glossary I posted a while back. Sexually, yes, we’ve had a steep hill to climb in terms of my physical changes, and also the changes in the way I relate to my own body. But that hill hasn’t necessarily been a bad one to climb, and we’ve quite enjoyed some of the views to be had along the way, if I can stretch that metaphor a little further!

Emotionally, I have changed, and that has led to a lot of renegotiating (and me being b*tchslapped by Willemina pretty regularly). But all in all, I am still the same person I have always been, only happier, more relaxed, more comfortable, more confident than ever. I am finally feeling like the person I always wanted to be, and that’s actually done our relationship a whole lot of good. Let’s face it, would you rather your partner was uptight, depressed, stressed and uncomfortable, or the opposite? Some of the changes we have faced really have been a good thing for both of us.

We’re an odd couple, I know, a transman and a lesbian. But for us, it works. We don’t do anything special, we’re just very, very lucky. Relationships either work or they don’t. Some do break down because of transition, some because of other stuff. If you have friends in a relationship, and one is just starting out on their transition journey, please don’t assume the relationship will crash and burn. Of course, it might, but my point is that it’s horrible to assume, and unfair to say to anyone that’s embarking on their transition that what they are doing will lose them their partner. Just support them if that does happen, and please, avoid “I told you so’s”, because these things are NOT inevitable.

It’s been about 7 years since Willemina and I first met, nearly 18 months since we had our Civil Partnership ceremony (more of that, and the legal issues around it, at a later date. Not now – I’m feeling romantic). We are still together, and strongly so. I can’t guarantee we’ll be together, forever, until the end of our days. Who can? But we have pledged to be together until the point where we stop being happy with one another.

So Willemina Velvetina Pelicina, I love you with all my heart. You are my strength and the arms that hold me when I worry. You are warmth and giggles and craziness. Your smile makes my brain explode, and your farts are the stuff of legend. I’m yours.
***stop press***
New video up on YouTube – interview, romance, and me failing the latest manliness test in spectacular fashion! Just click on MrHerbertTurtle up on the right hand side of this post.

Do we look unhappy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those of you who know Peter Kay (the best thing to come out of Bolton since Reebok shoes and spun cotton) may remember his sketch, that goes something like this:

Concerned person: How ARE you?

Other person: I’m fine.

Concerned person: (Looking meaningful) Yes, but how are you IN YOURSELF?

This sketch continues when talking about someone else:

Mr Curious: So how’s your son? IN HIMSELF?

With the latter part of that query accompanied by a screwed-up face showing concern, tenderness, and not a little meddling nosiness.

“In yourself” (or “him/her/themself”) implies ‘inside’, ’emotionally’, and generally on a level not adequately covered by the answer “fine”. It is a way of implying that there are Deeper Things to be uncovered and discussed, whether or not the person being asked really wants to spill their guts. I find it’s also often a way for people to be dead nosey, hidden under a veneer of concern. But then, I’ve always been a bit cynical, and transitioning hasn’t made me any less so.

My partner and I get this kind of thing quite a lot. People no doubt have the best of intentions, asking me, perhaps, how my transition is going, or how my partner is dealing with my changes, but if they’re told “fine”, or a longer equivalent, things sometimes get a little too personal.

With me, it sometimes doesn’t seem to be enough for things to be going ok. Which they pretty much are. 46 blog posts later, I don’t think I can be accused of holding back on how I feel, but, you know, sometimes things really are just fine. Sometimes they’re not, but can anybody honestly say that they don’t have their downs as well as their ups? You may just catch me on a day when I don’t feel like explaining something that’s troubling me in detail, particularly when 9 times out of 10 people assume that anything that’s wrong must be because of My Big Decision.

(Quick note to any other trans people reading this – how often do you hear “Wow, that must have been a Really Big Decision”. No sh*t!!)

As for Willemina, people assume that she must be going through emotional hell and is just hiding it because she is brave, and doesn’t want to upset me. Now, she has assured me that’s not the case, and we have sufficient love and mutual respect going on that there’s enough honesty between us for me to believe her. But other people sometimes seem to find it hard to do the same. We’re not Super Couple, but we’re plodding along through life just the same as we always did, and whilst it’d be stupid to assume there’s been no impact by my transition on our relationship, it’s a shame to assume that either Willemina or our life together are about to fall apart. You know what? We’re fine.

Which brings me to another, more personal area. When was the last time you enquired about the sex-life of a couple you know? If a couple you are friends with have had a lot of things going on in their life, did you ask them if they are still sleeping together? If that couple went through life changes of whatever sort, did you ask one of them if their sex-life was still satisfying?

There can be an assumption that because my transition is based around gender, that somehow it is also connected to sexuality (via genitalia, I’m guessing?). This leads to the further assumption that because I have chosen to transition very openly, sharing areas of my life that you don’t often learn about, that I don’t have boundaries. Of course I am open about my gender identity, but that really does not make it “fine” to ask us about sex, or our relationship, or to assume that these might be under attack by my transition. Or that if we say things are “fine” we must be hiding something. Just as I have maintained in the past, and still maintain, what is in my pants is my business. In the same way, what my partner and I do in each others’ pants is not up for discussion.

To quote Hillary Clinton, hopelessly out of context:
“I believe in a zone of privacy”.

 

A year ago today I entered into a Civil Partnership with Willemina, who agreed to sign the dotted line with me despite my being what I optimistically term “an interesting person”. Or as an ex put it, “you’ve got so much baggage you need a Pickford’s van”. For those of you not living in sunny Britshire, a Civil Partnership is a legally recognised union between two people of the same sex. It affords same-sex couples the same legal rights as a heterosexual marriage. Weirdly, nobody’s thought up a good verb to describe this act. There’s no equivalent to “I married Willemina a year ago”. After all “I partnered Willemina a year ago” sounds a bit silly, and just a touch smutty.

Amyway, semantics aside, that’s what we did. A terrific day was had by all, with skulls and roses, vegan deliciousness, balloon twisting, a bit of crying (me) and 5 inch stillettoes (Willemina and my daughter). After entering the ceremony room to the tune of “I Am The One And Only”, we solemnly promised to love each other whatever life might throw at us.

And boy, has life done some throwing. I knew in my heart that I was transgender long before this ceremony, and Willemina and I both knew, when we promised to love each other, that I would soon start to formally transition. It actually didn’t occur to us once to call things off, because we saw what we were doing as our way to tell the world how we felt about one another. And if I’m honest, we just wanted to be that little bit closer to one another, by sealing it in ink, swapping rings, combining our names, and having a damn good party.

When we felt the time had come to tell family and friends about the changes I was planning to make, we sent out lots of letters, emails and messages. We wanted people to hear from us, not through the grapevine. We were very, very shocked when an old friend wrote back to us and said the following:

“I think you are making a mockery of the fight for equal marriage rights by having a Civil Partnership, then deciding to go ahead and have a sex change [sic] anyway”.

My initial reaction to this was write a two page missive making it perfectly clear what I thought of this person and her ideas. Fortunately, my second reaction was to save that missive, and leave it for a few days. We actually never replied to her. There were just so many things to be said that ultimately silence was the safest response.

For a start, this misguided notion that I might “decide to go ahead with a sex change” is kind of laughable, until it hits home that a lot of people really do think that’s how it works. Maybe life over the last few years would have been easier, if it were simply a case of waking up one morning and deciding “Today, I am going to be a man”. Ha! I am a big fan of Family Guy, but was shocked speechless by the programme’s portrayal of a man walking into the operating theatre, and coming out a statuesque blonde. Who then goes on to revolt all in her acquaintance. All in the one day. As you do. The issue of how long, both emotionally and physically it takes to transition, and the naivete of the idea that identifying as trans is simply a one way street with ‘woman’ at one end, and ‘man’ at the other, deserve more space on this blog than I feel I can give today, but please, if you ever hear anyone referring to someone “deciding to have a sex change”, do me a favour, and do a little educating. Or punch them.

But on to whether we made a mockery of the fight for equal marriage. Willemina and I are both legally female. At some point in the dim and distant future, I may (or may not) choose to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. This, amongst other things, would make me legally male, and therefore able to marry Willemina in a heterosexual marriage. This all assumes a lot of things. It assumes I will ever decide I wish to apply for a GRC. It assumes that Willemina and I actually want to be seen as a heterosexual couple. It’s a really complicated issue, and not one that is likely to be resolved in the near future.

We entered into a Civil Partnership because that’s the only option available to make our partnership legally recognised. We also did so because we wished to validate same-sex unions, and make our friends and family aware of the commitment equal to marriage such a partnership brings. Being trans doesn’t suddenly make me immune to feeling passionate about the rights of same-sex couples, and whilst I acknowledge that I did not actually identify as female when we became Civil Partners, we made the most of what we had, and tried to fly the flag for what is still a fairly new institution. Is that us making a mockery? I hope not.

A year on, our passion for each other burns strong. Our tolerance for each other’s farts, bad jokes and general stubbornness is just as strong as it ever was. Our Civil Partnership has made a definite, but hard to quantify, difference. Our year since the ceremony has been peppered with change, some hardship and having to deal with the prejudices of others. We’re not perfect, but I can say with hand on heart that without Willemina, this year would have been impossible.

One year on, we are being truer to ourselves than ever, and if a loving, ever-blossoming relationship between a staunch lesbian and a queer transman is really making a mockery of anything, it’s making a mockery of other people’s perceptions of how relationships should be. And in many cases those perceptions deserve all the mockery they get.