“If I only knew then what I know now about what women need, I would have been a much better husband,” TBB says (By the way, she now says that her moniker means “The Bi-Babe.”) “I mean, I might have understood why my wife was so upset when she found a picture of me with a man. I just told her I never had sex with him, which I now know wasn’t really a useful comment.”
“Yes,” I said, “but to know what you know now, you had to be willing to think like a woman.”
TBB sighed, knowing I was right.
All those year spent clinging to thinking like a guy, or at least clinging to the simulated guy we developed to walk in the world, well, those were days we resisted thinking ike a woman. That just seemed to dangerous, too risky. If we let go of the performance, of the defense, how could we ever hope to find partners who wanted straight men, gay men, butch lesbians or whatever we were pretending to be?
“You have to remember that lesson, you know,” TBB said to me. “When someone isn’t ready, someone isn’t ready. You move them forward just on your own will.”
Having dropped back in to the local crossdresser scene, I knew what she meant. Until Linda understands that her third Saturday social club held in the old gay bar is as much a closet as TBB’s beloved SCC, I can’ help her get that. It’s not that closets are bad or evil — they do much good as first steps for transpeople, especially transpeople born male in relationship with heterosexual identified women. But they are closets, even if that is OK.
I remember the first moments when I dropped the walls enough to think like a woman. One was watching a made-for-TV movie after a ETVC (now TGSF) Cotillion. I was watching along and realized that I was identifying with the wife.
It takes a leap to drop the gender defenses and do what feels natural instead of what feels like the “right” thing to do, keeping up the pretense. And as TBB reminds me, until we can do that, we can’t do that, and no one can make us. In fact, people who try to open that window often feel like fair game for attack.
Once we start opening up, though, it can get hard. These are feelings and passions that we never learned to handle as an adolescent, so feeling emotional, open and vulnerable can feel raw, risky and extremely dangerous. Women are in charge of processing emotions (should I put the Audre Lorde quote about aphids here?) to help babies find their own understanding and words, to help men with that side, but that processing takes as much training as learning to master the external world, even if the training is different.
It might have been good if TBB had understood what women need better when she was married, but the only real way for her to understand that was to be a woman, and the minute that happened, she couldn’t really have stayed married to a heterosexual identified woman anyway.
It might be great if we knew then what we know now, but to do that, we would have had to be who we are now.
And if we were then who we were now, we wouldn’t have gotten into the same jam, would we?