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.

The Wrong Side of History

No, it’s not when women want private spaces of their own.

It’s when straight white males support a movement that sterilizes lesbian and gay children and promises to convert them into straight people.

Important to note: straight white males have always felt justified and honorable and righteous when they’ve done such things.

Shout Out to the Asexuals

There’s an “asexual” in my class and one in the Pride group where I work.

It’s easy to be snarky. There are so many snarky things to say about asexuals:

  • Asexuality isn’t a sexual orientation. There are gay men who don’t want sex, lesbians who don’t want sex, bi people who don’t want sex and straight people who don’t want sex. Asexuals know they have an orientation apart from “asexual;” that’s why they invented the words heteroromantic, homoromantic et al. It isn’t necessary to create a new identity every time someone wants or doesn’t want something.
  • Asexuals aren’t an oppressed minority. No one who might hire you or rent you an apartment can tell whether you like sex or not. It isn’t stamped on your face. Maybe your asexuality manifests in your being perpetually single (though it needn’t), but being single is something everyone, gay, straight or bi, is at some point (and often over and over again).
  • Because of all this, asexuals who join the LGBTQ+ movement look a lot like just another flavor of straight person who inexplicably seems to crave queer cred.
  • Almost every “asexual” I’ve ever met has changed their mind within a few months to a couple of years. It’s almost as if they were going through the perfectly normal experience of not being tortured with constant arousal and/or finding other things in life to prioritize.

But goddess love ’em, in the end I believe asexuals are reacting to a toxic sexual culture.

They are mostly young, mostly female, and mostly heterosexual. The messages they’re receiving from society in the age of social media and “sex-positive” wokeness are absolutely nauseating to anyone with a shred of decency at their core. The males in their age range are completely unsuitable for having sex with. It’s always been a challenge for women to find caring and reciprocal partners, but female pleasure doesn’t even seem to be on the collective radar anymore.

Not having sex under these circumstances is the most rational response a woman can have.

Here’s what a sexual culture that’s toxic to women looks like:

  • This video of a bunch of inexcusably clueless and selfish men tee-heeing about how they can’t be bothered to make their partners orgasm.
  • Porn that’s more violent than ever and more ubiquitous than ever.
  • A cultural stigmatization of “kink-shaming” that has bafflingly come to mean that committing cruel and unusual sex practices is preferable to questioning cruel and unusual sex practices.
  • An atmosphere where a high school teacher friend of mine found a girl crouching under and chained to a boy’s desk, surrounded by a number of other boys, in the middle of class. When questioned, the boys insisted they were all having a consensual BDSM relationship.
  • A world where Teen Vogue advises teenage girls (who have probably never even had decent “regular” sex, see point one) on how to take a dick up the butt. It was bad enough when boys, patriarchy, movies, music and porn were doing that, but now trusted adults posing as sex educators are doing it too.
  • A world where a teen magazine wouldn’t be caught dead teaching boys (much less girls) to perform cunnilingus well. Where’s all that sex-positivity now? Oh, right. It was only ever male-orgasm-positivity after all.

Who can blame a young woman for feeling turned off in a world like this?

The problem is that “asexuality” is a short-term and individualistic solution to a systemic problem. My classmate writes poetry on her “mixed-orientation” relationships, whereby men pressure her for sex and she resists it, and the whole thing is presented as some interesting journey of divergent souls finding a middle ground in a complicated world.

My classmate believes that unenjoyable, coerced sex is normal, and that she’s the unusual one. The “other.” The one whose “identity” requires naming. The one whose quirk requires working around.

It would be better for her soul, and for the soul of society, if she could embrace and thereby spread the absolute normalcy of not wanting to make oneself available for abuse.

But that’s too much to ask of a young woman. It’s easier to take on a quirky identity than to understand that almost every male around you is broken.