When Your Values Are at Odds with Transition

One thing that happens when you write a memoir is that your values become abundantly clear.

A memoir, even when it’s about the author’s encounter with a difficult person, is about the author herself. It won’t resonate with readers if it’s a just list of complaints about someone else.

If you’re doing your job while you’re composing a memoir, you’re asking yourself:

  • Why did that one incident, in particular, bother me?
  • What was it I found odd about the other person’s stance that I couldn’t quite put my finger on?
  • What was I trying to say in that argument we had?
  • What couldn’t I abide, in the end, and why?
  • What final straw broke the camel’s back?

What’s become clear is that my values were at odds with my ex’s. Specifically, my values were at odds with the values he acquired as he became involved in transgender activism.

My ex likes to twist any value difference between us into “transphobia” on my part. For him, it simply isn’t possible to hold legitimate values at odds with his own. There are only illegitimate ones, namely, conservatism and aversion to difference. Thus, if I’m not on board I must be a conservative and a person who was “disgusted” with his presentation.

It’s a bald-faced lie. I vote democrat. I’m 100% pro-choice (unlike my ex, who once said pregnant minors should have to consult their parents before getting an abortion). I recognize and sympathize with the oppression of minorities. I’m in a same-sex relationship. I support the right of everyone to love who they love and wear what they want. I’ve dated “girly” boys and “manly” women (for lack of better terms). I supported my ex’s identity in many ways, before he lost his mind, from buying him clothes and manicures to role-playing in bed.

So no.

I am not a conservative and never have been. My ex’s values changed, not mine. The values I hold, which I’m about to share, were once his, too. Or at least he said they were.

These are the values I hold that interfered with our relationship after he began to pursue transition:

  • Honesty. I couldn’t keep lying to someone and for someone. I couldn’t keep moving my mouth in the service of dishonesty without feeling dirty and compromising my soul. I couldn’t keep biting my tongue and censoring myself to keep from blowing over someone else’s house of cards. I intend to live and speak the truth, however inconvenient for others.
  • Body-positivity. It’s kind of a dumb modern phrase, but the concept is sound. It’s better to love your body than to hate it. It’s better to treat it kindly than to harm it.  It’s better to age gracefully than to pursue youth and beauty. A person’s value comes from his mind and his ethics, not in the conformity of his body to some standard. Physicality is superficial. A failure to come to terms with one’s physicality is a failure of mental health because it’s unsustainable: our bodies deteriorate and forever move toward an undesirable state. There is no a way to “support” a transitioning person without encouraging or condoning his bodily hatred. And because I’m not religious, bodily hatred is self-hatred. There aren’t “good” reasons to hate your body, and I can’t, in good conscience, support someone’s idea that there are and watch him injure himself in the service of that self-hatred.
  • Emotional intimacy. You aren’t being emotionally intimate when you’re lying or being lied to. You can’t become close when you’re evading topics because you don’t want to hurt feelings or you fear increasingly frequent outbursts of temper. When calm and rational discussions must end because of thought-terminating phrases about “triggering” and “feeling safe,” real communication has been lost.
  • Physical intimacy. This is threatened when one partner’s addiction to role-playing supersedes normal sex. It’s threatened when one partner removes and suppresses the sex characteristics that turn the other partner on. It’s threatened when one partner’s self-centeredness precludes his interest in pleasing his partner.  It’s threatened by the decreased sexual response that are a side-effect of hormones. It’s threatened by surgery.
  • A tremendous respect for female people. It is simply not possible to value women in all our uniqueness while defending or accepting the idea that we are nothing but a collection of indistinct traits, indistinguishable from kangaroos, smoke and mirrors, and men who play Grand Theft Auto and jack off to tranny porn. Women are people who are shaped by intense shared experiences from childhood sexualization to the need to subdue rivers of blood to the knowledge that a new human being can emerge from our bodies if we’re not careful. This is not trivial.  One cannot respect women while subordinating women to whichever men utter the right incantations.

I won’t apologize for valuing honesty, body-positivity, intimacy and a respect for female people.

Instead, opponents need to explain why dishonesty, self-hatred, a compromised ability to participate intimately with a partner and a hatred of women must become a necessary consequence of gender dysphoria.

7 Replies to “When Your Values Are at Odds with Transition”

    1. I have refrained from responding to this comment because it contains so many assumptions that there’s no good place to begin.

      First, I never actually said transition is a “bad solution.” I said transition, as practiced by my ex-husband at least, was at odds with certain defensible values such as honesty. Do you think dishonesty is bad? If so, you are inferring the problem with transition yourself— no need to pin it on me.

      Second, if it is in fact a bad solution, then the availability or not of other solutions is irrelevant. Anorexia is known to be intractable. Do we give liposuction to anorexics because we don’t have a perfect alternative?

      Third, I’ve named a number of alternatives to transition in this post. Coming to peace with one’s body, for example.

      Fourth, the very culminating point of this article is that the onus is on those who defend transition to explain why it is used to justify abhorrent behavior such as dishonesty. I personally know a fully transitioned male-to-female person who does not feel the need to claim that he’s “literally” female. Thus, honesty is a perfectly attainable value for the transitioned, even as so many transgender people reject it.

      Even more difficult to defend for the pro-transition side is the self-hatred that it represents. If self-hatred is such a good solution, I’d hate to see a bad one.

  1. If research established that transition was an effective treatment for gender dysphoria and your proposed alternatives like body-positivity were, on average, actively harmful (for example, one decreased the probably of suicide and the other increased), would you still be against transition?

    I am also wondering what the connection is between transition and dishonesty. The activist opinion that transwomen they are literally female or the same as biological women is new and peculiarly American. Transwomen in other countries transition without saying or being told anything like this.

    1. Let me ask you this. If the research showed that giving liposuction to anorexics alleviated their feelings of discomfort about their weight, would you be for it? (It probably would, by the way).

      Body positivity being harmful is a contradiction in terms, on its face. If harm is occurring, positivity is not occurring.

      What other “proposed alternatives” are you referencing? Honesty? Are you asking me what to do if honesty turns out to be harmful?

      I think you’ve also misread this post. I haven’t said I’m against transition, though to be fair I *have* been waiting patiently for someone to show me that it’s anything other than the hot mess I witnessed in my ex and the other hundred trans people I’ve come to know during and after that experience.

      What I’ve said in this post is that I am against lying. I am in favor of self-acceptance. I value emotional and physical intimacy. I respect female people.

      What’s remarkable is that because I failed to make a relationship work with someone who lied and wanted to be lied to, hated himself and his body, disrespected women, and sacrificed our emotional and physical intimacy on the altar of trying to look good to himself, *I’m* the bad guy. That’s what this post is about. It’s possible you haven’t read enough of my backstory to catch that. My ex and his friends disowned and sabotaged me because in the modern political climate, knowing the difference between men and women and not being into lies makes one a “transphobe.”

      So what this article is about is how, exactly, all this makes me the bad guy. What am I expected to sacrifice? My honesty? My respect for the human body? Shall I become a misogynist? Shall I concede that individualism trumps all, and stop valuing real connection in my relationships?

      Since you’ve commented on my other post about lies, I’ll assume you understand the connection between lying and transition. Yes, it’s an American phenomenon, but I’m American, and so was my ex. Tell him, and his transgender friends, that he isn’t literally female and see what happens.

  2. Just wanted to say I am so so glad I found this blog . After being in this game for 20+ years I am so glad to see someone else that shares my same thoughts and opinions on this . I was blessed ( cursed) with two of these people in my life . My ex husband and my longtime companion . I met my companion through my ex when I still thought I was grossly bigoted if I did not accept this 100% and that surely my ex husband was just ” one of the bad ones” . My companion died from the effects of the pursuit of this delusion life , living a miserable existence with his mother as a “woman ” while my ex husband lives a life that sounds very much like your ex husband . My politics and lifestyle are hard left but I can no longer go along with the trans movement . Personally standing back from it , I notice this big explosion of trans women rise along with the advent of internet porn .. but thats just me . I can see both in my life had AGP .

    1. Sorry you went through this, especially since one of these ended in death. Yikes.
      My ex’s journey began with “tranny porn.” I once had a link to a Google analytics page that showed that searches on that topic have risen extremely sharply in recent years, too.

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