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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Social Media and Transitioning Genders

It occurred to me since the beginning of my spouse's transition from male to female how hard this must have been before the internet and social media.  Not just for the person who is transitioning, but for the spouse or significant other of someone going through a transition.

Where in the world would people find information about this subject before the internet?  Where would spouses find support from others going through the same thing?  It would be nearly impossible.  What did people do before the internet?  I'm of the era where I didn't grow up with any internet access.  There just wasn't such a thing until I was pretty much an adult.  (As much as an 18 year old is an adult :) )

I'm so incredibly thankful that there is a network now where people can share information and be a part of social media groups with people from all over the country, or even other parts of the world.  What we spouses are going through is such a unique and lonely feeling sometimes.  As much as friends and family try and understand, there is nothing that compares to sharing these feelings and experiences with others who actually have experienced the same thing.

Yes, our transitioning partners also need their own groups.  There are many more of those out there on the internet than support groups or blogs from the other perspective of a significant other or spouse.  (I'm going to use "spouse" from here on out so I don't have to continue to write Spouse or Significant Other / Partner)

I'm not sure if the lack of support or writing from our perspective as spouses is because we don't reach out with social media, or if there are just so few of us out there that are supportive of our spouses.  Are we that unique?  Are so many of us too afraid to reach out or write about it?  Are there so few of these type of relationships that last?  I'd be very interested to learn more about that.

If it is the case that most spouses are too afraid to communicate about it for fear of being "found out," how can we engange them to talk about their own issues?  Everything that's put out there on the internet is able to be "found out" in some way, right?  How can they feel safe?  If you Facebook someone as a friend, who might question you on who that person is?  If you post on a blog, who can find out?  It's definetly scary.

For me, I was very afraid at first to put anything about my real self out there.  I didn't want anyone to accidentally find out who my spouse was before she was ready to reveal it.  So I made up a fake name and email account, mainly to protect her identity.  That worked for me to feel free enough to speak my mind and only tell specific people what my alternate identity was on social media.  Now, I really don't care so much.  This blog is still fairly anonymous, but those who have accepted me in Facebook groups now have my real identity.

What's my point?  If you are a spouse / partner, or even the person going through a transition, don't be afraid to reach out.  If you aren't comfortable at first putting your own information out there, you can always create an alternate version of yourself that doesn't necessarily identify you to people you might not want to know about you quite yet.  Just reach out.  It could be helpful and you might find support and friends you never would have found otherwise.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Update on progress

I realize that my posts are about me and my feelings, but I think sometimes other people in this type of situation want to hear about my spouse's progress and how we're handling each step.  Out of respect for my spouse, I don't want to try and speak on her behalf on how she feels.  That is her journey, not mine.  I can, however, talk about how I feel about the changes.

The transition is progressing nicely.  It's only been about 8 months since the decision to transition, but she has come a log way.  We're "out" to pretty much everyone, including some people at each of our jobs.  She has spoken to HR about the transition and they are more than willing to accommodate any needs she has and are accepting of the situation.  She has a few co-workers who know as well as supervisors.  Everyone has been tremendously supportive.  Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) started about 6 weeks ago.  For the first month, she was given testosterone blockers, then estrogen was introduced about 2 weeks ago.  She still isn't going to work as "herself" or going in public, but I feel like that will be happening fairly soon.  She would like to do work on the facial hair first.  Once she is comfortable enough, it is recommended that she lives full time as a woman before they will consider surgery.

So, how do I feel?  I feel surprisingly calm right now about everything.  I really believe the work I have been doing on myself and writing has helped me tremendously with coping with the changes.  If I didn't take a hard look at myself and my own issues, I think things would not be going so smoothly.  I haven't gone back to counseling yet, but I will if I feel it's necessary.  I have had a lot of support through friends, family and Facebook groups.  I know not everyone is so lucky and I am extremely grateful for everyone who is there for us.

I feel myself at times getting a bit impatient with her choice not to go full time yet.  I have to remind myself how hard that would be to just jump in and change how everyone sees you all the time.  She could face some real challenges and I do get nervous about her getting her feelings hurt.  I think I also am just anxious for her to start her full-time life as a woman because that means the surgery is that much closer.  I understand that it is a gradual process, but I am just really looking forward to seeing her fully engage with all areas of her life as she was meant to be.  Flip-flopping between identities has to be difficult and confusing.

I thought I would feel more sad, or nervous, or something when she started the HRT.  I was a bit nervous in the beginning that her feelings about me would change, or that she might start resenting me as a reminder of who she was before.  We had a few conversations about that and worked through it.  I'm still waiting for the hormones to cause the wild mood swings us women have to endure, but so far it doesn't appear to have that effect on her.  I'm not sure how long it takes for the emotional part to kick in, but I just keep bracing myself for it.  As long as we keep communicating about it, I'm sure we'll get through that just fine too.

I find myself more and more excited about seeing the changes that are yet to come.  What I see is someone who is becoming more comfortable and confident about herself.  She has seemed much calmer and appears far more content right now.  I find myself more in love and appreciative of my marriage every day.  I know the road ahead isn't going to be all sunshine and roses, but I feel very good about the path we are both on with ourselves, and as a couple.